Saturday, April 21, 2012

Brewday: Local lambic

As I venture deeper into the rabbit hole that is sour beer, I find myself wanting to brew more-and-more challenging styles. I have had limited success souring beers I had brewed, but haven't brewed many beers that were made for souring. I decided after a recent Cantillon tasting that my next beer would be a fruit lambic.

On Saturday, I finally got around to brewing my psuedo-lambic. Even though it's my first attempt at the style, I tried to stay as on-style as possible - I used a very simple recipe of flaked wheat, pilsen malt, and a touch of munich to give the bugs more food to chew on. I also lucked out, as the homebrew shop was clearancing out some 1.5% AA hops, perfect for a sour beer. Aged hops would have been better, but they don't sell any. Thankfully I bought a few extra packs that I plan on leaving out in the open to age for the next sour beer I brew.
Never heard of 'hopsteiner select' but hey, 1.5% AA.
The entire brewday took well over seven hours, as not only did I do an extended boil to really drive up the dextrins in the wort, but I also performed a turbid mash to leave a lot of extra unfermentables in the wort as well.

Mashing In

Half-way through the boil.


After a 2.5 hour boil, I cooled the wort down - I didn't use whirlfloc or whirlpool the wort since it will be aging for so long, plus the brett and bacteria can eat the trub and hot break so I wasn't too worried. I actually overshot my gravity by about 10 points, but I also was a gallon short on volume so I topped off with chilled RO water in the carboy.

Rather than risk an entire 5 gallons of beer on a hunch, I am being a bit more controlled with this first batch of lambic. I played it safe and pitched a smack pack of Wyeast lambic blend.

However, I have had a lot of beers that used only the cultured yeast/bacteria blends and it's a very one-dimensional final result, so I also filled up a sanitized jar with some of the wort during transfer. I covered the jar with a mesh bag and set it out overnight in the hopes of capturing some wild yeast and bacteria. If I'm lucky, I will catch some bugs in the jar, and I plan on smelling and tasting whatever ends up in there to make sure it isn't anything nasty. If it seems up to snuff, I plan on pitching that into the beer to add some additional complexity. If not, I'll probably culture up some dregs from a Drie Fontainen or a Cantillon.

In 8-12 months, I plan on adding about 3 pounds of fresh boysenberries and letting that ferment for a few more months before bottling.

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