I have used nearly every method for a quick sour, or a kettle sour if you will. I’ve used non-fat greek yogurt, probiotics, commercial pitches, and now finally the last method I can think of, using unmilled grains.
Now onto the Lichtenhainer style. This is a smoked sour, which is very light in color and low in alcohol. It’s often considered very similar to a Gose and/or Berliner Weisse, yet isn’t made very often commercially, if at all. I personally could only find very few that were made commercially. Aside from it being a historical style not really made, I think it could be hard to sell. As much as I do like smoked beers and sour beers, I can see it being possible that smoke and sour together might be clashing…but I’m a sucker for punishment and failure.
Now onto the smoke addition to the recipe. Being a sucker for punishment, I decided to smoke my grains (just under 1/3 of the entire grist) on the grill again. I recently made a Rauchbier (smoke German beer) where I smoked my own grains, but the grill I thought got a little too hot for that, so I dialed back the amount of charcoal I used for this one. but I overcompensated and ended up using too little charcoal and never really got a good smoke going. So I’m not sure how smokey this will be. That and I should be using beech wood to smoke with, and I used mesquite…so it’s shoddy work all around.
Now onto the kettle sour. The Sour Beer Blog has a great article for doing this, along with Milk the Funk. They essentially say the same thing: Get the wort to a pH of 4.5 using lactic acid or acid malt, pasteurize it by a quick boil or keeping at 180F for a few minutes, use C02 to prevent oxygen from getting in, have a good seal on the kettle (or fermentation chamber), pitch a commercial Lacto strain, non-fat greek yogurt, probiotics, or unmilled grain, keep it around 90F-110F, and in 1-4 days you’ll have a wort that should be nice and tart (about a pH range of 3.4 is the level I’m going for).
I was going to transfer the wort after I ran it off (from the mash) to a 1 gallon jug to sour in, but I got too nervous about oxygen pick up in the transfer, so I just threw in some unmilled grain into the kettle (after getting the pH to 4.5, pasteurizing it, and cooling it to 100F) then bubbled CO2 through the wort and the headspace. To keep it in the 90F-110F range, I put it on a floor heater wrapped in towels where heat leaks out at around 90F (I also turned the heater on occasionally for short periods of time to get it to 100F).
There were a lot of steps to this, but the main change I’d consider is getting the smoke right. I recommend buying smoke malt or if you smoke it, use a proper smoker using beech wood.
Here is a video of my attempt at this:
Batch Size: .75 Gallons
Est ABV: 3.7%
Boil Time: 15 Min
1.0 lb oz (58.5%) – German Wheat
8 oz (29.8%) – Belgian Pale
1.8 oz (6.5%) – Acid Malt
1.0 oz (4.2%) – 2-row (unmilled to sour with)
70 Min @ 154F
1.0 oz of 2-row (unmilled to sour with)
WLP644 Saccharomyces “Bruxellensis” Trois
Somewhat smoked 7 oz of grain for about 30 minutes. The pH was at 5.25 (still trying to dial this in) during the mash (my Alkalinity is at 126 ppm). Collected 1.25 gallons of wort with a gravity of 1.031 “pre-boil”. Got the pH to 4.5 using lactic acid (1 mil of lactic acid drops the pH by .1). I then heated the wort to 180F for 10 minutes, cooled it to 100F, “pitched” almost all the 1 oz of unmilled 2-row, bubbled C02 into the wort, purged the head space with more C02, duct taped the lid shut, and put it on the floor heater wrapped in towels where heat leaks out at around 90F (I turn the heater on occasionally for short periods of time to get it to 100F).
2/6/17: The pH is at 3.9. It doesn’t taste very tart yet.
2/7/17: The pH is at 3.6. Some weird puffy white substance has grown on top. Mold?
2/8/17: The pH is at 3.25. The weird substance is still there, but it doesn’t smell odd or bad. Boiled for 15 minutes, added some yeast nutrient to help the WLP644 battle the low pH (and whatever nutrients might not be there), cooled to 80F, and pitched some slurry of WLP644. Keeping this about 75F for fermentation.
2/11/17: Haven’t seen activity yet, but the gravity is at 1.012.
2/18/17: Gravity at 1.011. Added .75 oz of Galaxy hops and a little unmeasured oak-soaked tequila.
3/25/17 Tasting notes: