Quick sours are definitely the common sour beer at most breweries, mainly with the Berliner Weisse and Gose. They can be done in weeks, rather than months or years, and require only a little extra effort on the brewing side. I myself have done a lot of them using a variety of souring methods (I’ve used non-fat greek yogurt, probiotics, commercial pitches, and grain.
While I don’t mind the quick sour, I know some who rather just have the long-aged stuff. I will say for some reason a dark quick sour always falls short for me, despite my best efforts. I think maybe the added tannins in the dark grains cause a harshness that the Lacto alone can’t balance enough? I don’t have the same issues as much with the lighter colored quick sours, but there is something irreplaceable aging either color beer for a long time.
For this quick sour I was inspired by a recent article written by Mike Tonsmeire. He had three different methods for making hoppy sour beers, and this one was the second of three methods he listed (I did the first one as well a few weeks later). His second method was the classic quick sour method to keep it warm for a few days (90-100F) to sour. As Lacto generally does not perform well in the presence of hops, there are no hops during the souring phase. After the pH has dropped to the desired range (I personally like 3.5), then the temp is raised to 180F, the hops are added, and then steeped for 20 minutes. The idea here is you are extracting flavor and aroma, rather than bitterness (though some IBUs will still be extracted at 180F). It is then cooled to about 75F and Brett is added. The reason for Brett is that most Sacc strains have a hard time fermenting a beer that’s below 4 in pH. I have heard that some English strains can do get through it, but I think Brett is more hearty as whole for the job (you can use a Sacc strain by White Labs called WLP644 Saccharomyces “bruxellensis” Trois as well).
If you are using a commercial strain of Lacto (rather than probiotics or yogurt, etc.) you should make a starter, and the same goes from Brett (3 Liter starter for Brett, and 1 Liter for Lacto should be enough for a 5 gallon batch). Milk the Funk is a good reference to use for making these with Lacto and Brett.
Video of the brew day:
Total Batch Size: 1 Gallon
Est ABV: 5%-ish
Boil Time: 60 Min
(77.6%) – 2-Row
(15.5%) – Flaked Wheat
(6.8%) – Acid Malt
Hops (Steeped at 180F):
.20 oz (15 IBUs) Simcoe (13% AA) @ 20 Minutes
.20 oz (14 IBUs) Citra (12% AA) @ 20 Minutes
.20 oz (13 IBUs) Mosaic (11% AA) @ 20 Minutes
WLP672 Lactobacillus Brevis
WLP648 Brettanomyces Bruxellensis Trois Vrai
Made a .25L starter for both 3 days before with very old crusted DME. Got the pH to 4.5 before pitching the Lacto starter on the brew day. Added 2 grams of calcium chloride to the mash to help with body (sour beers can get thin). Kept it at around 90F near a floor heater.
5/10/17: The pH is at 4. Going for 3.5.
5/13/17: The pH is still at 4. Very annoying. Added half a milliliter of lactic acid to get the pH to 3.8. I hate to do that, but 4 is too high for what I want (so is 3.8 for that matter). In hindsight I’m not sure Brevis was the right choice, even though Mike Tonsmeire did recommend that strain to me via email. However on MTF they say that it isn’t ideal for 100% fermentations.
5/14/17: Transfered to a pot and steeped the hops for 20 minutes at 180F. Cooled to 80F and pitched the Brett (used half of this starter for a Dunkelweizen I did with Brett). Keeping around 75F for this phase of the fermentation. I will note that I did not plan for enough volume for this. Taking pH readings along the way, and adding the hops has shrunk this batch to less than half a gallon. I may only get 2-3 bottles all set and done.
5/21/17: A light pellicle has formed. The amount of headspace in this isn’t ideal.
6/4/17: Gravity at 1.007.