Maintaining residual sweetness

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monkeymath

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Hey guys,

my first sour, in the style of a Flanders Red, has been fermenting for roughly 8 months now and I just tasted it for the first time (as I was topping off the fermentor with some young beer). Based on numerous forum posts I had read, I was sort of afraid it wouldn't be sufficiently sour, but BAM! - there was a strong acidity up front. There's also a bit of acetic acid in the finish, I think, but not much. Guess the pedios really went to town on that one.

Anyway, the beer seemed really dry and very sour and now I'm worried it might end up a bit flat and one-dimensional. To me, Flanders Red is all about that sweet-and-sour harmony, fruity acidity coupled with malt character. I haven't had a ton of these beers yet, so I'm mainly taking Rodenbach as a reference here.
I started with an OG of 1.065 and it went down to 1.010, so judging solely by the numbers it's perfectly in line with my expectations. Could it be that the beer being warm and flat just messes with my perception? I remember tasting straight lambic in Belgium and finding it relatively dull and lifeless - just plain sour - compared to the final geuze.

Is there anything I can do at this point to increase the (perception of) residual sweetness in the end? Blending with a young beer and keeping it cold to avoid refermentation is not an option, since I will be bottling. Mixing in unfermentable sugars or sweeteners is not up my alley. Any ideas?

EDIT: In case it's relevant, the fermentation was/is as follows:
- primary fermentation with Imperial Yeast B48 Triple Double (supposedly the same as WY3787)
- transfered to secondary after about two weeks (SG 1.016) and pitched the following microbes:
-- Wyeast Pediococcus damnosus,
-- The Yeast Bay Beersel Brettanomyces Blend,
-- bottle dregs from Timmerman's Oude Kriek and Schneeeule Berliner Weisse Marlene.

Thanks in advance,
~ Daniel
 
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When you tasted it, did it seem like it really coated your mouth? Or was it just dry, sour, done? How is the nose on it? If it coated your mouth and has a strong and pleasant nose, that will give you a sweet perception when it’s carbed.

You can do a test bottle to see how it comes across when it’s carbed. If you want it sweeter, you could add some spices such as vanilla, sarsaparilla, star anise, etc to give you the perception or add some very unfermentable wort (sorry, I know you said you didn’t really want to do that) and hope your microbes wimp out.
 
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monkeymath

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When you tasted it, did it seem like it really coated your mouth? Or was it just dry, sour, done? How is the nose on it? If it coated your mouth and has a strong and pleasant nose, that will give you a sweet perception when it’s carbed.

You can do a test bottle to see how it comes across when it’s carbed. If you want it sweeter, you could add some spices such as vanilla, sarsaparilla, star anise, etc to give you the perception or add some very unfermentable wort (sorry, I know you said you didn’t really want to do that) and hope your microbes wimp out.
Thanks, Frank! I appreciate your response!

I'm not sure if I understand the sensation you are referring to with "coating the mouth", but I'm feeling inclined to say that I did get that, in that it was like a "normal" ale (with body), but just really dry and sour. From the nose, I didn't expect that acidity at all, it was mostly malty and slightly fruity (a bit of the kind of cherry notes that brett produces, but not as much as I would have liked).

I like the idea of adding spices! I hadn't thought of it, but I think some vanilla might do nicely. Just have to be really careful here: I recently spiked a couple of bottles of porter with some homemade tonka extract (2ml of extract per 500ml bottle), and it is absolutely overpowering.

I wouldn't object to adding "very unfermentable wort", but I'm actually not entirely sure how I would go about that. The original wort was mashed at 70C and contained lots of specialty malts, so as to make it less fermentable for the sacch and leave more for the other microbes. (That does seem to have worked.) To make it actually unfermentable for the microbes would be hard, no? And could possibly lead to bottle bombs down the road... ?

I'm thinking I might try and blend it with some young sacch-only beer with a very low final gravity, so that the microbes don't get a chance to create a whole lot of acidity any more. Maybe WY 3711 - which I otherwise don't care fore - would be fitting here, since it produces beers with a crazy low FG that come off as rather sweet (probably due to glycerol levels). That way the body would be left intact and the acidity would be diluted.

But first I should make sure that it really is too dry.
Or I bottle half as-is, then add some young beer to the fermentor.

So many options!!
 

goodolarchie

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Sweet cherries or purple plums are another option to add the perception of sweetness despite a lower fg, they both pair wonderfully with a Flanders red. I agree my favorite examples balance some malt character and sweetness with the intense and acetic acidity. But 1.010 sounds like a great fg given the cultures you fed it.
 
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