Faux Sidra Sour – 4/10/16

I had mentioned in a previous post that I recently discovered cider from Spain known as sidra. These ciders are mostly produced in the northern part of Spain in the Basque and Asturias regions. The fermentation process occurs naturally due to the native yeast that is already present on the skins of apples, which must be a lot of Brett as the ones I’ve had are super horse tainty and smoky.

I have had two sidras from Asturias, and both were indeed funky and delicious (in my opinion). Seeing as these are not pasturized…and native fermented…what if one were to harvest said dregs from said bottle and brew a non-apple beer with it?

The grain profile I figured could really be anything as long as it had sugars. Fructose is the most prevalent sugar found in fruit, 65% of it in apples. It is a simple monosaccharide (one simple sugar), but when bonded to glucose it forms the disaccharide (two simple sugars bonded) sucrose, which is also found in apples. Conveniently, beer yeast break down brewing sugars by first working on the sucrose structure. The yeast will break down the sucrose into its glucose and fructose components. It will then consume the glucose, followed by fructose then maltose (disaccharide with two glucose sugars) and finally maltotriose (trisaccharide consisting of three glucose molecules) in that order. Brett however is hardy and can break down even more complex sugars. Shit is getting weird!

The levels of phenols can actually be somewhat controlled, or at least attempted to be controlled. If one were to want less Brett induced phenols, then the pre-curser known as ferulic acid (found in grain, largely in wheat) would need to be lessened as yeast converts the ferulic acid into 4-vinylguaiacol, which Brett then takes and converts into horse taint, aka, funk/smoke phenols.

Insterestingly enough, ferulic acid can also be found in apple seeds, which is I’m guessing where the large amount of phenols are coming from in sidras and other funky ciders? Stab in the dark with that one. I don’t actually know, but according to Mike Tonsmeire (and other fine scholars) “access to additional carbohydrates causes Brett to produce more esters (making 100% Brett beers fruitier), additional phenols are not generated in the same way.”

Obviously apples and grains are different, even if some of the same carbohydrates can be found in both. I’m curious to see what sort of phenol levels I can get using sugars from grain rather than only apples, or if anything happens at all.

I didn’t necessarily need to really accentuate the funk with my grain recipe, but the grain profile I used for this had a fair amount of wheat to it regardless, and seeing as it’s 100% fermented with the bottle dregs, I have no idea what will happen. Pumped.


Batch Size: 1 Gallon
Target OG: 1.040
SRM: 3.9
Est ABV: 4%
IBU: 24
Boil Time: 30

52% – 2-Row
28.4% – German Wheat
9% – Flaked Barley
5.7% – Acid Malt
4.9% – Light DME

.32 oz Crystal (4.10 % AA) @ 30 Min

Sidra dregs grown up from a bottle of Riestra

Here’s what went down:

4/5/16: Made a 1/4 gallon starter with the dregs. The bottle was was in the fridge for a bit open with tinfoil over the top, so I wasn’t sure how good this still was bacteria wise. No activity after two days.

4/7/16: Still no signs of activity. This might need a taste test, but I’d prefer to see activity before tasting it as certain harmful bacteria could be in it, yet anything harmful gets killed off with a pH of 4.5 or lower or alcohol. I would imagine it’s very possible that something got in (bad or good) if the sidra bugs never grabbed a hold of any of the sugars.

4/8/16: Activity. Not sure if the bottle dregs are eating or if something else got in. It smells kind estery, banana in particular.

4/9/16: Put it in the fridge to cold crash.

Brewed 4/10/16

Collected 1.5 gallons from the Session IPA #3, boiled it separately, ended up with 1 gallon post-boil at 1.038. Decanted off the top of the starter and poured the rest into the 1 gallon jug.

4/12/16: Activity.

4/23/16: Gravity at 1.002…seems really low this early. It also does not taste at all like what the sidra did thus far. It’s very banana. I’m going to let it sit longer.


9/5/16: Still at 1.002…yet this has changed drastically in flavor…for the good.

9/20/16: Bottled with .6 oz of corn sugar and some rehydrated champagne yeast.

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