Category Archives: Funky / Sour

Session Brett IPA

Lately I’ve been making other people’s recipes rather than designing my own from scratch. My intuition has been a little off with recent beers. I’m still learning, of course, but I’ve not been impressed with some of my recent recipes. Every once in a while I’ll make a beer and afterwards go “what the hell was I thinking?” once it’s done fermenting. So I started looking to other brewers for inspiration, filtering their recipes through my brewing intuition. The past few recipes I’ve brewed from Brulosopher have been great, so I think I’ll continue on this path for a little while this year.

It’s been a while since I brewed something with Brett, so I did some searching online for some Brett recipes. This one came from Meek Brewing Co’s blog, for a Brett IPA. I scaled it down to 4 gallons, and adjusted the acid malt to get my pH right around 5.3.

  • 5 lb US 2-row pale
  • 1 lb Red Wheat
  • 0.4 oz Carafoam
  • 0.1 oz Acid malt
  • 0.3 oz Amarillo @ 60 min
  • 3 oz Amarillo @ 5 min
  • WLP650 Brett Brux (1L starter)

// Mash-in w/ 3.5 gal at 152F for 50 minutes, mash-out, sparge to collect 4.8 gallons. Boil 75 minutes, collect around 3.5 gallons 1046 wort. Brewed 1/15/17. //

The expiration date on the Brett vial was pretty close (Jan 27 ’17), so I made a starter; it took a good week for it to fully attenuate. Tasted good in the end though – plenty of funk with some fruit too.

1/19/17:  Airlock slowing down, gravity down to 1013. Incredible peach/mango aroma. Flavor is slightly tangy, but good fruity/hop flavors. Not much funk at all. Added 0.75 oz citra and 0.5 oz amarillo to carboy.

1/25/17: A little funk coming through! Crash cooled for 2 days then kegged. Tasting notes soon.

4/2/17  Keg kicked before I could get around to some real tasting notes. Overall the level of funk was was low and would’ve liked more. My old vial of Brett may have had something to do with this. The citrus hop character was pleasant but had a slight attack to it, would’ve preferred if it were somewhat cleaner – maybe not using Amarillo as the bittering hop and using something like Magnum instead would help with this. I would up blending this with another Belgian Pale Ale I had on tap to create a more balanced, hoppy, not-funky beer.


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Filed under All-grain, Belgian, Funky / Sour, Hoppy, Pale Ale

American Wild Ale

I made a yeast starter from pineapple juice and ambient yeast/bacteria in my backyard/house. It smells and tastes okay, so I put together a small batch.

  • 6.5 lb Maris Otter
  • 0.15 lb Amber malt
  • 0.25 oz Columbus 70 min
  • 0.3 oz Cascade 20 min
  • 0.3 oz Cascade 10 min
  • 0.3 oz Columbus 10 min
  • 0.3 oz Cascade 5 min
  • 0.3 oz Columbus 5 min
  • Wild yeast starter

// Mash-in at 154 for 50 minutes, mash out and sparge to collect around 3.5 gallons. Boil 70 min. Add ice and 32 oz of water to get around 3 gallons of 1.056 wort. Let sit in the fridge for 2 hours to get down to 82F, pitch wild yeast starter. Brewed 7/14/16. //

7/17/16:  Airlock activity was off the charts initially, slowed quickly. Gravity at 1016, still super cloudy but no krausen left (never really got up there anyway). Very fruity and yeasty, hefeweizen-ish – banana, sharp citrusy and earthy hop flavors with some green apple. Not very pleasant, but I’m hoping it’ll attenuate a little more over the next week and smooth out.

8/20/16: I kind of forgot about this batch, but kept tabs on the airlock activity here and there – it really never seemed to slow down. The hop flavor is a little sharp, but the beer has dried out to 1009 and is much less fruity. Still not overly blown away by the flavor, but we’ll see how it does in the keg. Moved to a 3 gallon keg, tasting notes soon.

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Filed under All-grain, Funky / Sour, Hoppy

Wild Yeast Harvesting Experiment

All this brewing of sour beers has got me thinking about real Belgian Lambic beers. Spontaneous fermentation produces such amazingly complex and flavorful beers due to the unique yeast and bacteria present in the air. I wanted to try something similar but a little more controlled so that I have somewhat of a guess as to what will be fermenting my beer, rather than just sitting it outside and hoping for the best. I sought out to make a wild yeast starter.

The mad fermentationist has a good post on how he collected wild yeast using a small scale version of a “cool-ship”, where he basically created a mini batch of wort, let it cool naturally, collect microbes, and start fermenting. This seemed risky to me so I tried a different method that I’ve heard about for creating sourdough starters that uses pineapple juice. The acidity of the juice helps to ward off mold and allow just the “good guys” to hangout.

IMG_1027I cut a fresh, ripe pineapple and saved the juice. This came out to only a few ounces, so I squeezed some of the pulp to get some more (a few chunks got in the juice). Split that up into two wide and shallow tupperware containers (more surface area the better, I guessed) and cover in a hop sack to keep insects out. One outside on my back deck, and one inside in my “sour room” where all of my long term beers sit, figuring there must be a lot of bugs floating around in there. The ambient temperature was about 80F outside and about 72F inside. Let the dishes of juice sit out for 24 hours to hopefully collect as much good yeast and bacteria as possible.

I gave each container a good whiff after their stand. Remarkably, they both smelled like yeast! Almost like dry bread yeast after it’s been rehydrated. And, barely like pineapple anymore. This was a good sign, so I went ahead and made two separate 1L yeast starters with 1/2 cup of DME and the pineapple juice cultures. I put the inside culture starter on a stir plate just because.

IMG_1036Within 12 hours both showed signs of fermentation. The stir plate fermented out in about 24 hours, so I gave it a taste. Not terrible! Lots of esters, some apple, mostly banana, and reminded me of a hefeweizen. It had a little bit of corny/DMS flavor, not totally sure what that was. I drained off as much liquid as i could without disturbing the yeast at the bottom and pitched another 1L of fresh wort. That fermented out quickly, so i turned off the stir plate and just let it settle out for a day before tasting. At this point it had developed some lactic sourness already! Very lemony and wonderful for only a few days. I tasted the outside starter and it had taken on very similar flavors – banana, some funk, and pleasantly tart. I drained off as much liquid as i could from both, combined them into the stir plate starter, and added another 1L of fresh starter wort, making about a total of 5L of starter wort condense into about 1.5 L after draining of excess fermented starter. After 48 hours, there was still a good amount of activity – I’m wondering if this is Brett that is slowly coming alive and fermeneting. I pitched the whole thing into an APA recipe, and hoped for the best!

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Filed under Experimental, Funky / Sour

Dry-hopped Sour w/ Bottle Dregs


One issue I’ve found with “quick souring” methods is the lack of complexity and depth of flavor compared to a properly aged sour. Lactobacillus plantarum can create enough lactic acid to sour a beer quickly in 48 hours at room temp, but the slower working organisms like Pedio and Brett generally do not work as fast. Those guys, however, are what add lots of other good flavors we commonly associate with complex Gueuze-like sour beers. This batch is yet another variation, to see if I can coax some character out of bottle dregs in a short period of time after souring with Lacto. The Mad Fermentationist has a big list of unpasteurized sour beers that contain harvestable bottle dregs. I went with Gueuze Girardin since my bottle shop had it, it’s on the bottle dreg list, and I’ve never tasted it before (why not drink something new, too?). The general process will be:

  1. Mash, short boil. Chill to 90F.
  2. Add Omega Lacto blend. Let sit 72 hours at room temp.
  3. Once sourness is acheived, boil 60 minutes and add hops. Chill to 90F.
  4. Add bottle dregs. Let sit for 2 weeks or so, letting the (hopefully still alive) bugs do some work.
  5. Add Brett and/or Sacch to help finish fermentation.

3 gallon batch. 3 IBU. 3 SRM. 1065 OG. BIAB.

  • 6 lb Pils malt
  • 0.5 lb Biscuit malt
  • 0.25 oz Saaz hops (60 min)
  • 1 packet Omega Lacto Blend
  • (2) Bottle Dregs from Gueuze Girardin

// Mash in 1.4 qt/gal 60 min at 152F. Boil 15 min and chill to 90F overnight. Brewed 3/28/16. Kettle sour for 3 days with the Omega blend. Finished boil on 4/1/16, boiled hard for 60 minutes, chill to 85F w/ wort chiller, collected around 2.5 gallons. Pitch bottle dregs and seal. Wound up transferring a fair amount of trub from the kettle. //

Both bottles of Girardin were extremely flat. Barley even a *pop* when de-corking. Hmmm.  I’m not sure if this is by design, but that doesn’t give me high hopes for the dregs being alive and healthy. Maybe the cork seal was bad and the carbonation leaked out, maybe the beer never re-fermented in the bottle, who knows. Sourness was fairly mild, but overall a wonderful tasting gueuze. Hopefully I can at least pick up some of that character in this beer.

4/8/16:  A weird layer of tan sludge has formed on the surface, with some pellicle-like growths underneath. At this point, who knows if this a result of the bottle dregs and not an accidental infection on my part. I’ll wait another week, taste, assess the level of active fermentation and flavors, and decide whether or not it needs Brett to help clean things up.

4/12/16:  The sludge layer is gone, and some large bubble/pellicles are forming on the surface. Gravity at 1038. Very, very sour to taste. Some funk, but also very cloudy and apple-y. Added a vial of WLP650 Brett Brux to the carboy.

4/20/16:  started to drop clear, Gravity is at 1014. Flavor isn’t ideal. Funky, but also has a sort of apple-ish cider thing that isn’t great. No Gueuze character. Shook the carboy and sealed again.

7/1/16:  The gravity dropped to 1011, flavors have improved a little bit but not really. The level of sourness is great, but still that overly funky cheese thing going on. Not happy with how things are and not willing to wait any longer, I added 0.3 oz each of Citra, Mosaic and Equinox that I had left over in the fridge from previous batches. Let that sit 5 days before kegging. It’s now a dry-hopped sour!

7/10/16: Tasting notes to come!



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Filed under All-grain, Experimental, Funky / Sour, Small Batch

Sour Wort Experiment: Lacto/Yogurt Kettle Sour

This was another experiment to try and achieve sourness in a beer using a “quick” method. Rather than adding uncrushed malt to the kettle to achieve lacto souring, I added some yogurt. Yogurt is full of healthy bacteria, and apparently some brewers are now using it to sour beer. I used Wegman’s brand, plain, non-fat greek yogurt.

  • 4 lb Pils malt (Avengard)
  • 2.5 lb White wheat
  • 1 oz Saaz 60 min
  • White Labs Brett Vrai

// Mash-in 152 for 50 min. 1 tsp CaCl2 to mash. Mash-out 168, sparge to collect 3.25 gallons 1.066 wort. Boil 15 minutes, chill to 120 with ice (ended up with 3.5 gallons). Added two dollops of Greek yogurt into the wort, seal top of wort with plastic wrap. Brewed 1/15/16. //

1/18/16  Lots of white bubbles started forming under the surface of the plastic wrap. Looks like fermentation is happening. Shucks. Called it quits and decided to finish off the beer. Skimmed off as much yogurt/yeast residue as possible and boiled for 90 minutes. Collected around 3 gallons of 1052 wort. Let it cool overnight down to 55, let it warm up to 65 before pitch a single vial of Brett.

1/23/16  Finally, first signs of fermentation.

2/27/16  Kegged.  This beer is ultra funky. Very similar to the Brett lambicus cider. Gravity down to 1004.


Well, the yogurt did not sour the wort as expected. I read that using unpasteurized yogurt may be needed but I’m still not sure if that’s totally necessary. After all, you wouldn’t want to kill off the probiotic bacteria in yogurt. Anyway, from this data point of a recipe, I did not achieve any sourness using this brand of yogurt. My guesses are that 1) there may have been too little lacto in the yogurt, or 2) I had a wild yeast take-over resulting in the foam under the plastic wrap. The grain-based method has been my only success so far in quick souring.

Even though the beer wasn’t sour, the level of Brett character is this beer was outrageous – it was on par with Brett Lambicus. Super horsey, borderline funky weird cheese. I wound up blending about 1/3 saison and the 2/3 of this together to create a more palatable and mildly funky beer. That being said, this yeast would likely be better suited pitched alongside a standard yeast, like a Belgian saison or a clean yeast. Allowing it to do all the work created a total funk bomb!

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Filed under Blonde, Experimental, Funky / Sour, Small Batch, Sour

Kettle Soured Berliner Weiss


Omega Yeast Labs makes a Lactobacillus blend that can sour beer at room temperature rather than requiring an elevated temperatures in the 90F-110F range. This is a quick 3 gallon batch sour using the kettle sour method to see what kind of results this blend can produce.

  • 4 lb Pils malt
  • 2.5 lb White wheat
  • 0.5 oz Saaz 60 min
  • 0.5 oz Hallertau 5 min
  • Omega Labs Lactobacillus blend
  • White Labs German Ale / Kolsch

// Mash-in 1.5 qt/lb at 150 for 60 min. Mash out and sparge to collect 3.5 gal 1050 wort. Sour for 72 hours with Omega blend. Boil 60 minutes, cool to room temp, pitch yeast. Collected around 3.25 gallons of 1048 wort. Pitch yeast with no starter. Brewed 3/6/16. //

Fermented down to around 1011 in about 1 week. Excellent malt character with just a touch of sourness. Kegged and carbonated to medium/high level.

Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Light yellow, slight haze. Wispy white head that lasts for a while and leaves moderate lacing on the glass.

Aroma: Bright lemon and lime citrus up front supported by light breaded malts.

Mouthfeel: Extremely light bodied and bubbly.

Flavor: Medium amount of tartness and acidity up front, with lemon/pear. Light pils malts linger in the finish with a touch of citrus, which is almost like a Kolsch with a healthy squeeze of lemon juice.

Overall:  A clean, spritzy, refreshing beverage with some great Berliner Weiss / Gose-like qualities.  I’m not a Berliner Weiss expert but this beer was exceptional for my tastes. It could maybe be just a touch more acidic – using ice to chill the wort definitely cut the sourness down, but there was still an appropriate level that made it very enjoyable.

I highly recommend the Omega lacto blend for kettle souring. It’s very clean and quick which, in my mind, is ideal for this style since it’s not an overly complex sour beer like a gueuze. Personally I’m not a fan Brett character in this style – I think citrus works better than funk here, but that’s just me.

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Filed under All-grain, Blonde, Experimental, Funky / Sour, German, Small Batch, Sour, Wheat beers

Sour Wort Experiment: Hoppy Brett Sour

IMG_0835Making 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!

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Filed under All-grain, Belgian, Experimental, Funky / Sour, Sour