I want to start brewing sours

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Craig
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I want to start brewing sours

Postby Craig » Mon May 05, 2014 3:41 pm

Is there a good way to ease into making sour beers? I want to give it a shot, but jumping right in blindly sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Am I better off trying a traditional sour style first, or just adding a Brett/Pedio blend to something amenable like a saison? Where did those of you who have gone down this road start out?
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Re: I want to start brewing sours

Postby atomeyes » Mon May 05, 2014 4:59 pm

squeaky wrote:Is there a good way to ease into making sour beers? I want to give it a shot, but jumping right in blindly sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Am I better off trying a traditional sour style first, or just adding a Brett/Pedio blend to something amenable like a saison? Where did those of you who have gone down this road start out?


the only time it becomes a disaster is if your FG is not a true FG and you bottle it.

did you want to read about things? want help on a recipe? blogs to read?

there are at least 4 of us that make sours, if i recall correctly. me, grub, markberrant and jeremy. and another just started.

saisons are a great start because the FG will be where you want them to be after 3 months, and you can buy a funky blend.
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Craig
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Re: I want to start brewing sours

Postby Craig » Mon May 05, 2014 5:27 pm

atomeyes wrote:
squeaky wrote:Is there a good way to ease into making sour beers? I want to give it a shot, but jumping right in blindly sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.

Am I better off trying a traditional sour style first, or just adding a Brett/Pedio blend to something amenable like a saison? Where did those of you who have gone down this road start out?


the only time it becomes a disaster is if your FG is not a true FG and you bottle it.

did you want to read about things? want help on a recipe? blogs to read?

there are at least 4 of us that make sours, if i recall correctly. me, grub, markberrant and jeremy. and another just started.

saisons are a great start because the FG will be where you want them to be after 3 months, and you can buy a funky blend.


Sure, I'd love to read things. I'm mostly just looking for a point in right direction so I can go do some research.

Like I'm guessing starting off with blending lambics or Flanders Browns might not be the way to go.
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Re: I want to start brewing sours

Postby atomeyes » Mon May 05, 2014 5:52 pm

squeaky wrote:
Like I'm guessing starting off with blending lambics or Flanders Browns might not be the way to go.


heh. exactly.
lambics are fun and neat, but it will take over a year to see if you didn't fuck something up.
doing an all-brett beer or a secondary sour is the way to go. 1-3 months until you're ready to drink.

good references:

The Mad Fermentationist
Embrace the Funk (a little less good lately, to be honest)

so the best way to brew funk?
1. decide what funk means to you. goaty and barnyardy? that's b brux. cherry pie? lambicus.
2. decide how much brett control you want. you can buy mixes from wyeast or white. you pitch and walk away. or you can buy the brett separately. or you can use dregs from Jolly Pumpkin, Cantillon or others to add to secondary

i don't love the level of funk i've had from the farmhouse saison yeast mix. i'd just use a regular saison, make it nice and dry, and pitch brett dregs either with the initial yeast pitch or after initial fermentation. ppl argue that there's a difference. debatable, IMO.
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Postby ritzkiss » Mon May 05, 2014 6:34 pm

My first sour is nearing the one year mark so I don't know if I have any pearls of wisdom to share but The Mad Fermentationist was one of my research starting points, as well as some of the boards on HomeBrew Talk.
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grub
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Postby grub » Tue May 06, 2014 7:49 am

get a copy of Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow, then American Sour Beers by Michael Tonsmeire (the mad fermentationist) when it comes out this summer. In the mean time, you can get a ton of info from his blog.

as for jumping in with lambics, I don't think there's anything wrong with it if you know your process, ingredients, and you're confident in your general brewing skills. They're not really "intro" beers, but I'd argue nothing sour really is due to the bazillion variables involved. When we decided to go funky, we went whole hog and aimed for a gueuze. We started brewing lambic batches in 2009, and the first blend has now been in the bottle a year, with the second blend scheduled any day now. If you've got space and patience and feel like that's something you want to eventually get to, you may as well start.

if you're a little less sure of all that, the suggestions to try something like a mixed fermentation (adding bugs to a clean brew) or even a 100% brett fermentation (which behaves more like sacc and isn't quite as funky) are also good ways to go.

one suggestion I'll make as it just makes life easier: from the start, be rigorous about having a second set of equipment for funk. i'm talking the soft stuff mostly - siphons, hoses, thiefs. i even have separate glassware and stir bars. If you can, it also doesn't hurt to have dedicated fermenters. some of that is overly cautious, but better safe than sorry. before I started being careful about this, we had a period of a year where most of our "small" beers went funky and the big ones sometimes had unexplained insane attenuation.

and as always, feel free to post questions here and we'll do our best to help steer you in the right direction.
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Craig
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Postby Craig » Tue May 06, 2014 8:46 am

I think I might start with a simple saison. Is there any particular worry about splitting batches down to smaller sizes? I have three and 1.5 gallon carboys, so I think I might split it into two threes for primary, one with a yeast blend to be determined right with the primary, the other I'll let go through primary as usual. Then I can split that second one into a couple of 1.5 gallons and try lambicus in one and maybe a Brett/Pedio blend. Or maybe dregs from something. Or...
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Postby grub » Tue May 06, 2014 9:00 am

squeaky wrote:I think I might start with a simple saison. Is there any particular worry about splitting batches down to smaller sizes? I have three and 1.5 gallon carboys, so I think I might split it into two threes for primary, one with a yeast blend to be determined right with the primary, the other I'll let go through primary as usual. Then I can split that second one into a couple of 1.5 gallons and try lambicus in one and maybe a Brett/Pedio blend. Or maybe dregs from something. Or...


no problem at all. it obviously alters your pitching rate, which can influence what you get in the end, but it's a great way to experiment.
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Postby Craig » Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:50 pm

I finally got around to doing this. Home renos cut into my brewing time significantly last year.

I ended up getting some stuff from Escarpment Yeast who are a local yeast company that's in the process of starting up (full disclosure: I'm friends with the owners. Very biased.) I brewed a basic saison:

12 lbs 2-Row Pale Malt
1 lb Rye Malt
0.5 lb Flaked Wheat
0.5 lb Flaked Oats

Hops

1 oz. Amarillo 8%a, 60 minutes
1 oz. German Tettnang 4%a, 20 minutes

This is a recipe I've done before, and liked the results fine. I added an extra 0.1 lbs each Wheat and Oats and mashed a little warm (~156) to try to give the beasties a little more to chew on. I pitched a saison yeast they provided me, let it ride for a couple of days and it was down from 1.065 (my efficiency is a little low, I'm still figuring out the all-grain thing on my setup a little) to 1.01. Tastes about like I would expect, if I were just brewing a saison I'd say it's not quite dry enough yet, but otherwise right in the wheelhouse.

Then I split the batch in three. 1.5 gallons got Brett, 1.5 gallons got nothing, and the rest got Lacto. I'm going to ferment at about 21 degrees for maybe a week (aka, upstairs) then move them down to about 16 (aka, basement) for a few months.

I'm excited to see how it turns out.
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Postby mahcinesquad » Sun Mar 22, 2015 8:13 am

How was the yeast?

In the past I've used Wyeast's French Saison. I just got a sample of Escarpment's Old World Saison. I'm assuming that's what they gave you. How did it stack up in flavour?
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Postby Craig » Sun Mar 22, 2015 3:19 pm

They're still in secondary, but I don't think they'd settled on their saison blend yet when I got my yeast.
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Re: I want to start brewing sours

Postby DeMarco » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:57 pm

how did it turn out?
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Craig
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Re: I want to start brewing sours

Postby Craig » Tue Aug 25, 2015 2:19 pm

Pretty well actually. I sampled them a couple of times through the process and wasn't that pleased with the results. But after 8 or so months in secondary they were both pretty tasty. When I bottled I brewed up another batch of the same saison recipe and pitched it on top of the old yeast cakes, then repitched the saison yeast when they were about half done fermenting. I think that should produce similar results on a faster time frame, but we'll see. They're just sitting around waiting for me to taste them + bottle, but alas more home renos are getting in the way again.

My "control" batch, which sat around in a carboy that was 2/3rds empty for like 8 months, ended up getting infected too. It had a real nice pellicle going by the time I got around to bottling. However, it turned out really nice as well. I repitched it too, just for fun. Whatever's growing in my basement is tasty!
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Re:

Postby admviolin » Tue Aug 25, 2015 5:04 pm

mahcinesquad wrote:How was the yeast?

In the past I've used Wyeast's French Saison. I just got a sample of Escarpment's Old World Saison. I'm assuming that's what they gave you. How did it stack up in flavour?


Earlier this year I made a Dupont clone with Escarpment's Old World Saison. Aside from not enough carbonation (no champagne bottles so it was on purpose) it turned out fantastic.

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