Making a good sour beer takes time. The bugs that create the complex funky and sour flavors work slower, and, to get a decently tart beer is going to take at least a few months to make using a traditional method of pitching bacteria into a low-hopped wort with ale yeast and Brett. This is an experiment to get those results a little quicker – 1 month at most. Recently I tried souring a batch after the boil by only adding lactobacillus (no yeast up front). In theory, this should allow the bacteria to create lactic acid quicker and more freely – there’s no yeast or alcohol to inhibit its activity (along with very little hops). So far, after about 2 months, it has very little sourness. Then, I heard about a method of souring the wort right after the mash.
- 5 lb Avengard Pils
- 1 lb Dark Munich
- 0.25 lb Caramunich 24L
- 0.3 oz Magnum 60 min
- 0.5 oz Mosaic 5 min
- 1 oz Mosaic 0 min
- 2 vials WLP 650 Brett Brux
// Mash-in 1.6 qt/lb at 152 for 50 minutes, raise to 160 for 5 minutes, sparge to collect around 3.25 gallons of 1.064 wort. Wait till wort dropped to 120F, then add 1/2 lb pils malt (uncrushed) to the wort in a mesh bag, stir it around until the bag saturates and stars to sink (it should eventually sink to the bottom). Cover the top of the wort with plastic wrap trying to keep out any bubbles. Put a lit on the pot and let sit for 3 days. After that, remove plastic wrap. It smelled pretty nasty at this point. Kinda musty, corny, stale funky bread. Maybe this was DMS that formed. Proceed with boil, hop additions, chill to around 85F with ice, oxygenate with 30s pure O2. Collect around 2.5 gallons of 1060 wort. Brewed 11/26/15. //
12/7/15 Airlock activity slowed down significantly. Gravity at 1018. Wonderful ripe peach, mango aroma. Taste follows, with a decent amount of lactic sourness. It’s acidic, but not face puckering. Maybe this will enhance as time goes on. The fruit flavors compliment it well. No funk yet. It’s still a little sweet, so I think two more weeks will probably be necessary to let it dry out.
12/30/15: Kegged with FG at 1012. Same great tropical fruit flavors. Some brett funk has developed (there were a few small pellicles on the surface of the beer) which is a nice touch. Looking forward to seeing how some carbonation adds to the experience with this beer!
This was a great experiment that, for me, shed some light on what can be done using grain to sour a beer. I didn’t even maintain a warmer (110F) environment for the lacto and still got a decent level of sourness after three days in the kettle. The tropical hops were a nice touch (the final beer really tasted like it had mango and apricot added to it!) but I’d be curious to see what noble hops might do to create a more traditional sour. There was a small amount of Brett funk, which definitely contributed to the overall impression of the beer but wasn’t overly barnyard. Since brewing this batch, I’ve read about a few more methods for quick souring which I plan to try out very soon. Until this, I would call this batch a success!