Flanders-style Red Ale – 1/24/18

Belgian sour beers are a thing of beauty. I’ve found their complexity surpasses most American sour beers. They do have hundreds of years of prior wild yeast capturing and process on us, so they should be better. All of us in other parts of the word can hope to get close to replicating their process.

Beer originating from the Flanders region of Belgium differ from Lambics, which are made in Southwest Brussels. Where as Lambic brewers inoculate there wort in koelschips, Flemish sour ales are inoculated with sour bacteria first, then after some fermentation, goes either into very large wooden barrels called foudres (also spelled foeders) where Brettanomyces is waiting to finish the job, or stainless-steel tanks depending on the style. Flanders red traditionally are aged in foeders, and the brown ales (aka, oud bruins) are aged in stainless-steel tanks. The browns are a little more sweet and less wine-like than their red counterparts. The reds are more sour cherries, tart Pinot Noir, and currants.

For my Flanders-style red ale, the only similarity is the color and the use of bacteria and Brettanomyces. I am using no hops and I most likely won’t oak this. I also didn’t add any raw grain into this, yet it’s very common for most Belgian brewers to add some. The raw grains have longer dextrins and proteins, which helps the beer from getting too thin (pediococcus and Brett in particular can attenuate a beer way down). I regret not adding a little to this to be honest, but I at least added a fair amount of flaked oats, which should help a little with their beta-glucans—even though there have been studies done that may not provide a link between beta-gluans and body. Either way, it does have proteins that could help a little. I also whiffed on my mash temp. I was going for 155-156F to help extract some more dextrins, but I only got to 153F. It’s ok though, no one panic.

The yeast and bacteria for this originated from my sour black, that then was used on my sour blonde #5. I also added fresh yeast to help with initial fermentation.

Brew day video if one feels so inclined:

Recipe:

Batch Size: 3 Gallons
OG: 1.054
SRM: 15
Est ABV: 5%-ish
IBU: 0
Boil Time: 60 Min

Malt:
4.5 lbs (72%) – 2-Row
1 lb (16%) – Flaked Oats
4.0 oz (4%) – Carared
3.0 oz (3%) – Crystal 80L
2.5 oz (2.5%) – Acid Malt
2.0 oz (2%) – Special B
1.0 oz (1%) – Chocolate Malt

Mash:
60 Min @ 153F

Hops:
None

Yeast:
Slurry from my Sour Blond #5

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 1/20/18

Took a portion (about 250 mil worth) of the slurry from my sour blonde #5 and put it into this.

1/21/18: No activity.

1/23/18: No activity.

1/24/18: Panic setting in. I realized that this probably needed a fresh kick of yeast as the old yeast slurry was too old and worn out. I added a fresh dose of Wyeast 1318.

1/25/18: Activity!

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