Sunday, April 8, 2012

Review: Black&Blue

Last year, I brewed a Belgian stout, "Midnight Train". The recipe was a modified RIS recipe I'd found online, which I modified by adding dark candi syrup and special B, and using White Labs 575 Belgian blend yeast. The beer ended up at just a hair over 10.7%, and was bulk conditioned with a Hungarian oak stave for nearly 6 months before bottling.

I bottled 4 gallons of "Midnight Train" last March, transferring the last gallon to a tertiary container, where I then pitched a vial of White Labs Brett. B., a vial of lactobaccillus, and dregs from several commercial sours.

I left the beer to sour for 4 months, then I siphoned out one 22 ounce bottle's worth of beer to make room for 2 pounds of frozen blueberries. I primed and bottled the one bottle as "Crazy Train", while I left the remainder to sour an additional 3 months before bottling it all. I tried some at bottling, and while it had a bit of funk to it, it mostly just smelled and tasted like an infected Quadrupel.

Well, I finally cracked a bottle open last night. The beer is over a year old at this point, and has been bottle conditioning for almost 7 months:

Appearance: Dark brown with ruby highlights and a thin tan head.

Smell: Berries, lemons, barnyard funk, lactic sourness, lemon pledge.

Taste: Lactic sourness, berries, lemons, leather, earthy, vinous, tobacco, burnt chocolate.

Mouthfeel: Slippery, effervescent carbonation, with a thin body.

Overall: Wow! This tastes a lot better as it has continued to sour in the bottle. I'll have to brew another batch immediately and sour the whole 5 gallons. I have a few tweaks in mind, mostly tweaking the amount of specialty malts. I'm also thinking that I'd like to soak the oak stave in wine (likely Merlot) before adding it to secondary this time.

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