Sour Red #1 (So Much of the Yeast) – 12/19/15

It was time for a proper sour. I had waited long enough. As is per my usual fare I couldn’t just “make a sour” with the sour starter pack, aka, just using the Roselare Blend. Leading up to this I had read every single post from The Mad Fermentationist Mike Tonsmeire, chunks of his American Sour Beers book, and every podcast of the Sour Hour on The Brewing Network.

Mike Tonsmeire recommends (along with others) for your first sour, pitch some Sacc with the Roselare Blend, maybe throw some bottle dregs in as well, and call it a day…or a year or more. Wait, bottle dregs you say? This is a thing? I like it. I like it a lot. This sounded just like the kind of thing I should try for my first sour. So I whipped up a grain profile of a Flanders Red, with the idea of it not fully being a Flanders Red, but just a reddish-hued sour.

From the research I had done, it’s very evident that oxygen is the enemy of enemies with sour beers. Of course that also goes for all finished beer, but only a month or less of time and money wasted if a beer gets oxidized is far more tolerable than waiting a year or longer to only get a solvent or vinegar bomb, which are off flavors that can develop due to oxygen ingress. I had also heard that commercial breweries will sometimes dump up to 5%-10% or more of their barrel aged sours, so I wanted to prep for known proven beer losses. Also also also, a lot of great commercial breweries blend, and I’ve read and heard that not doing this is a mistake home brewers can make when attempting to make sour beers. It makes sense that trusting only one fermentation vessel to knock it out of the park may not be enough.

I broke this sour up into three different fermentation vessels, each getting different treatments. The reason being this is not wasting months and months for one sour to finish in the off chance something goes wrong, which can happen very easily with me and with sours in particular.

Recipe:

Batch Size: 5 Gallons
Target OG: 1.057
SRM: 14.6
Est ABV: 4.8%
IBU: 13
Boil Time: 60

Malt:
34% – 2-Row
34% – Vienna Malt
10.6% – Caramunich
6.4% – Wheat
4.3% – Flaked Corn
4.3% – Melanoiden Malt 20L
4.3% – Flaked Oats
2% – Special B

Hops:
1.30 oz Tettnang (2.6% AA) @ 60 Min

Yeast:
A lot of stuff

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 12/19/15

Cut the water in half with distilled water. I didn’t take a pH reading nor treat the water with salts.

The mash valve got clogged. I had to take off the mash, clean the valve, and put the mash back in (this was after conversion). I still hit all the numbers. I then boiled, chilled and split it into three different fermentation vessels. Each one got separately:

3 gallons: About 1/4 cup each from the Brett Saisons (WLP650 and WLP653) from the bottom of the buckets with a wine thief, Lacto (Brevis?) that’s in the fridge (no starter), dregs from 2 bottles (Uncultured and Slow Moves from Highland Park Brewery), and nearly 1/4 packet of US-05 non-rehydrated.

1 gallon: Dregs from a Ladyface Flamberge bottle, nearly 1/8 packet of US-05, and some Sacc of shit that was unlabeled in the fridge. You can read the updates here.

1 gallon: Harvested wild yeast (cold crashed two days before) from the Wild Harvest #1. Half of the cake I harvested and saved before pitching. You can read the updates here.

Took in the three fermenters and put a blanket around them in kitchen in case of blow off.

3 gallons:

12/20/15: No activity. Moved to my closet.

12/21/15: Activity (1/2 inch krausen or so).

IMG_6833

12/27/15: It still has some krausen. The temp is in the high-50s at night (mid-60s during the day) currently in the apartment.

1/2/16: Activity has stopped.

2/27/16: A light pellicle as formed.

5/20/16: A large white pellicle film has formed.

12/10/16: It’s kind of on the wrong side of phenols. It’s a bit rubbery and band-aid like. This might be a lost cause. I’m going to let this go a bit longer. I forgot to mark down the gravity like a tool, but it’s not ready or it’s a dumper anyway.

6/24/17: This being in a closet got lost to me a little and I kept forgetting about it. I should have tasted this sooner, but here I am. It’s not that great. It’s a bit too much on the Band-Aid side of things, and after that not much else. It’s pretty sour though and thankfully there isn’t any ethyl acetate. This I can blend I think, where others are iffy. The rubbery thing is a bit of an issue though (which is a wild yeast contamination from what I’ve gathered).

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