This was my first journey into the realm of longterm souring. In a weird way I feel like I’ve gained access to some club – the 1-year-aging-club? The overly-patient club? The I-have-ample-storage-space club? Anyway. It’s been nice to watch this beer “grow up” over the past year. I wasn’t super enthralled with the final results, but I definitely learned a lot along the way.
- 7 lb Pils (Dingemans)
- 0.5 oz Czech Saaz hops, whole leaf (2.4% aa)
- WYeast Lambic Blend
- 12 lb Sweet Cherries (frozen, Wegmans brand)
// Mash at 154 for 60 minutes (Brew-In-A-Bag style), sparge with about a gallon of water to collect around 3 gallons of wort. Boil 60 minutes, collect around 2.5 gallons of wort. Add all the frozen cherries into the hot wort, use an immersion blender to puree the cherries while they’re in the wort. Didn’t quite cool it down enough (100F) but went ahead and transferred the fruited wort to a carboy and pitched the yeast blend. Sat it outside until it felt room-temp, then brought back inside. Good fermentation 12 hrs later. //
UPDATE (1/7/15): Fermentation has slowed down significantly. Beautiful deep burgundy color. Took a taste sample – very interesting. The aroma is sweet and fruity – almost like a fruit wine – with a little bit of barnyard funk. To taste, it’s not very sour at all, but it has a slight funkiness/Brett character which makes be think it is likely on its way there. The sweetness of the cherries is really beautiful, which may be masking some of the sourness… regardless, it works pretty well together. It tastes a bit syrupy, so i wonder if it’s fermented fully, too. I don’t have that much of this beer, so i don’t really want to take a full hydrometer reading – going to wait until my refractometer comes in the mail. I’m hoping that it sours up a bit more!
UPDATE (1/13/15): Starting to get a little sour! The first sip was very enjoyable. Sweet up front with a little acidic bite towards the end. Going to let this go for maybe two more weeks and then take another sample.
UPDATE (1/26/15): Brilliant clarity. Excellent nose – dark fruit, cherries, roses, slight funk. The mouthfeel is ultra velvety and smooth with an initial sweetness from the cherries and slightly tart and sour finish. I wish the sourness were a little more upfront, but it is quite nice where it is. I’m nervous about kegging because there’s about a 5 inch layer of cherry sludge at the bottom of the carboy, so I doubt I’ll get much yield from this batch. Maybe i’ll give it another week and see how it tastes then.
UPDATE (2/11/15): Flavors are still pretty similar. It smells much more sour than it tastes. Not much sourness at all going on. Decided to pitch a vial of White Labs Lactobacillus Debrukiii to see if that will sour it up a little more. Gave the carboy a little shake.
UPDATE (3/11/15): Sourness has increased slightly, but not drastically. Clarity is incredible. Probably not going to taste this again for a few months because this seems like a sloooow and very marginal change, so we’ll see how things progress after while.
UPDATE (3/21/16): I really forgot about this beer, and it just so happens that it’s about 1 year since my last tasting so I decided to taste it and see if it was ready for consumption. The complex sour flavors have really developed, although it’s still just not super sour. There is a modest level of cherry sweetness left, given how long it this was sitting on bacteria. I thought this would have been much drier at this point. It was an ordeal trying to keep the beer separate from the massive layer of cherry slurry at the base of the carboy, but after some finicking with a racking cane into a BIAB nylon sack directly into the keg, i managed to keep back 99% of the cherry stuff. The beer was a little cloudy the first few days but cleared up nicely.
UPDATE (4/25/16): The beer has been on tap for about a month, and has gotten some pretty good reviews from local tasters. Tasting notes to come soon.