Sour Black – 10 Months Aged

God I love sour beers. I think it has something to do with my love for wine as well. The best sours out there are the closest thing in the beer world that brings the complexity wine has, especially those with fruit added or aged in wine barrels.

This 3 gallon sour black is the third in a “line” of sour beers I have been trying to somewhat stagger, the first being the Sour Red (All the Yeast), then the Sour Blonde #1, and now this. I like the idea of having different sours, and better yet, like the idea of possibly blending if something goes wrong or if some don’t turn out as good as the others.

The real danger of aging sours is oxygen exposure, which if not carefully monitored and taken care of, can result in some seriously bad off flavors…or so I’ve heard. Incidentally, the Sour Red is not filled to the neck of the carboy and it’s still in the primary, where as the Sour Blonde is filled to the neck and in secondaries.

I have only tried one of them (the 1 gallon Ladyface Sour Red), but the rest I’m going to let sit. I think I will only try the rest of them after they’ve all sat about 8 months to avoid oxygen and purge the head space with CO2 when I do, and then do a prayer to the CO2 gods to work their magic.

Recipe:

Batch Size: 2.75 Gallons
Target OG: 1.064
SRM: 34
Est ABV: 6%
IBU: 13
Boil Time: 60

Malt:
48.5% – Maris Otter
29.7% – American Wheat
8.2% – Crystal 80L
8.2% – Flaked Oats
5.5% – Carafa III

Hops:
.75 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrüh (2.4% AA) @ 60 Min

Yeast, dregs from:
Beachwood Propagation Series #128
Ladyface Vallis Aurea
Libertine Wild IPA
My Brett Claussenii IPA
Growler with Lacto in it

Here’s what went down:

Brewed 6/25/16:

2 grams of Calcium Chloride to the main mash water (3 gallons), which was not cut with distilled water. Mashed in at 160F initially, but brought it down with some cold water to 156F. The pH was close to 5.6. I added a little lactic acid to bring it down. Collected 3.5 gallons at 1.067 post-boil.

Pulled off a gallon for the Black Lager with Brett.

Left with almost 3 gallons. Pitched the dregs listed above in the recipe and pictured below.

IMG_8142

6/26/16: There are some bubbles on top, but it doesn’t look like activity though, rather it looks like bubbles lingering still from the initial transfer.

6/27/16: Actual activity. It’s been in the mid-90s in the garage during the day, which now makes me a bit nervous reading this on the Sour Beer Blog: “Acetone on the other hand tends to be produced by an overactive fermentation by either Saccharomyces or Brettanomyces in which the yeast is too hot. To avoid acetone, keep your fermentation’s temperature controlled and in general under 75º F”.

I know Highland Park Brewery in hot summer L.A. has aged some of their barrel-aged sours in their parking lot outside, and every sour beer they have released has been wonderful. So let the prayers begin.

6/29/16: Activity is complete, and by complete, I mean the krausen has fallen. Transferred to a 3 gallon carboy for extended aging. I was shy on my volume so I was not able to fill it entirely to the neck.

12/10/16: This tastes amazing. I actually think it’s done, but I’m going to wait to see about blending it. I might just use it as is though. The gravity is at 1.006.

2/26/17: This still tastes great. Really fruity with soft acidity. Gravity seemed to be at 1.010, but I must have a slight misreading as I doubt it rose in gravity.

5/2/17: Kegged!

5/17/17 Tasting notes:

This is really good. It has a nice dark plum oak thing going on, yet no oak was put into this. It might be better with some raspberries or something like that, but it’s hard to say. It’s great as is. The body is good and full and the head retention actually holds pretty well, which is hard to do with sours. Happy all around!

Tasting it on video:

I took the slurry and used it for another sour.

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