Category Archives: Small Batch

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!




Leave a comment

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

Peach Cider w/ Citra – Tasting Notes

The inspiration for this recipe came after tasting the Brewers Best Peach Cider kit at my LHBS. They had it on tap for customers to taste, and, even me not being a big cider guy, I was blown away by how good it was. Bright, juicy, crisp, not overly sweet, and most of all super drinkable. I checked out the packaging in the store, and the ingredients had loads of artificial flavors, sweeteners, and preservatives (womp womp), so I didn’t buy it. I decided to try and make something similar based on ciders and other non-alcoholic things I’ve tasted before.

Wegman’s “natural style” apple juice has made consistently good cider for me. All of their apple juice is 100% juice without preservatives and I think the “natural” label means it’s slightly less filtered compared to its counterpart which is crystal clear. It’s a little cloudy and I think it has a much more rounded and smooth apple flavor.  This, plus WLP001 was the starting point for the recipe.

Then for the peach. The white-grape-peach juice from Wegmans is delicious on its own, too. It’s more peachy than grape in flavor, so I went with this. The citra hops were an afterthought – I thought it needed a little “edge” after tasting the batch halfway through.

Appearance: Extremely pale, like a wit. Slightly hazy. White head that fizzles quickly to nothing.

Aroma: Peach, pear, all-around tropical. Sort of fruity white wine cooler-ish.

Mouthfeel: Fairly thin, but spritzy.

Flavor: Good balance of fruit and acidity.  No single fruit jumps out at first, but the peach comes a little later followed by apple.

Overall: Very nice spring/summer sipper. Almost reminds be of a less sweet, more tart Moscato white wine. Next time I might to catch it before it hits 1.000 gravity to retain some sweetness, but it’s fine dried out like this, too. The ratio of apple to peach juice was pretty spot on – if anything I would go up a little more with the peach (adding some fresh peaches would be nice too), but I think 100% of the peach juice would be too tart given how balanced it is now.


Leave a comment

Filed under Cider, Experimental, Hoppy, Small Batch, Summer, Tasting

Peach Cider dry-hopped w/ Citra

Quick recipe for a cider using apple and white-grape-peach juice from Wegmans.

  • 2 gal white grape peach juice (100% juice from concentrate)
  • 1 gal “Natural Style” apple juice (100% juice)
  • 1/2 oz Citra hops.
  • 1 vial WLP001
  • 0.25 tsp yeast nutrient

// Pour apple juice, yeast, and nutrient into carboy. Brewed 5/5/16. Signs of fermentation about 6 hours after pitching. //

5/12/16: Fermentation still going strong (1″ layer of yeast on top), but took a sample anyway. Gravity at 1020. Slightly sweet, but good peach flavor. I could live with something more tropical, so added 1/2 oz Citra pellets to the carboy and shook.

5/18/15:  Fermentation seemed to still be going strong up until today when it abruptly stopped. Gravity at 1.000 – go figure. Pretty thin, slightly tart, but overall pleasant fruity peach and apple flavors. Moved to the fridge to crash cool.

5/21/15: Kegged and carbing at 15 psi for 1 day. Should carbonate pretty quick because it’s only 3 gallons, and it’s so thin. Tasting notes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Cider, Experimental, Hoppy, Session, 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!

Leave a comment

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.

Leave a comment

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

SMASH French Saison w/ Nelson Sauvin hops


In an effort to experiment with some malts and hops that I’ve never used before, I threw together this SMASH recipe that showcases golden promise and Nelson Sauvin hops.

  • 6.5 lb Golden Promise
  • 0.2 lb Acidulated malt
  • 0.25 oz Nelson Sauvin 60 min
  • 0.25 oz Nelson Sauvin 30 min
  • 0.50 oz Nelson Sauvin 10 min
  • WYeast French Saison

// Mash-in 154 for 50 min. 1.25 tsp gypsum to mash. Sparge w/ 168 to collect 3.25 gallons 1.058 wort. Boil 60 minutes. Add ice to get down to 140, chill overnight to 64. Pitch yeast, no starter. Shake to aerate. Wort had big clouds of proteins suspended in it. Brewed 1/14/16. //

1/25/16  Fermentation was fairly active at first and stabilized to bubbling once every 15 seconds for about a week. Finally, after about two weeks, bubbling in the airlock slowed to about once a minute. Gravity at 1006. Very clean, crisp and dry saison flavors. I really like it. Not much noticeable in the way of hops, but we’ll see how it is once it’s kegged.


This ended up being just an OK saison. It came out weirdly acidic, which is probably  a result of me stupidly adding acidulated malt based on my initial pH reading. Still trying to get the hang of it. An overall dry and clean beer, with some gentle hop character that blended well with the saison yeast. I didn’t really get a strong reading on the Nelson hop contribution since the yeast is so flavorful, so probably not a wise choice of recipe to try out the new hop with.  Something just isn’t right about the beer, though. For a saison, it’s a little lacking in the ester department. This may be a trait of the French Saison strain, or, maybe it’s the golden promise getting in the way. I’d probably stick with a Belgian strain for the yeast.

Leave a comment

Filed under All-grain, Balanced, Belgian, Experimental, Saison, Small Batch

Tropical Session IPA

I had some leftover English yeast that I wanted to utilize rather than dumping like I always do, so I threw together this recipe for a small batch of a low-gravity IPA with a cluster of different hops. Most of the time with an IPA I’m trying to learn about a hop, or keep the number of variations limited. For this I was hoping to do the opposite; create a bouquet of hop flavors that will hopefully be presented as a cohesive package.

  • 7 lb US 2-row Pale
  • 0.4 lb Amber malt
  • 0.2 lb Carapils
  • 0.75 oz Galena FWH
  • 0.5 oz each Amarillo, Centennial, Galaxy and Simcoe @ 10 min (pellet)
  • 0.5 oz each Amarillo, Centennial, Galaxy and Simcoe dry hop (pellet)
  • London Ale III saved from previous batch

IMG_0650// Mash-in 1.33 qt/lb. Mash was at 5.4 pH, used 0.1 lb acid malt to bring down to 5.3. Rest at 150 for 40 minutes, raise to 168 for mash out. Sparge to collect around 3 gallons. Boil 60 minutes, add ice and top-up water to hit 3.5 gallons 1.052 wort. Added 0.5 gallons filtered water to bring it 10 around 1045. Let sit for 4 hours, which brought the tempt to around 85F. The wort looked really strange in the kettle at this point – almost looked like the proteins started to coagulate, then stopped and remained suspended the wort like giant puffy clouds in a very clear wort otherwise. It was so weird that I had to document it. I did use a full whirlflock tablet rather than 1/2 like i normally do in a 3 gal batch, so maybe that had something to do with it. The hop silt trub still sunk nicely to the bottom of the kettle, thankfully. Poured wort directly onto yeast cake. No oxygenation. Brewed 12/30/15. //

// Water: 1.25 tsp gypsum in mash. //

1/1/16:  In 2 days gravity is down to 1012 – super quick fermentation since I used such a massive quantity of yeast and the OG was a little lower. Huge krausen throughout. Beautiful tropical fruit hop flavors that have a nice zing without being overly bitter. Added dry hops directly into carboy and gave it a good swirl.

1/2/15:  Moved to fridge to start crash cooling.


It’d been a while since I had a hop-forward beer on tap and this definitely hit the spot. The hop levels were appropriate – very clean and smooth hop flavor with minimal harshness, with the carbonation really adding an exclamation point to each sip. It was a nice mix of hops, without any one in particular jumping out. If anything, the Galena served as a strong earthy base with some the fruity, tropical flavors riding on top. The end beer was a bit cloudy – i might have just not given it long enough in the primary before crash cooling. No picture, unfortunately; the keg was kicked quickly during a party :O


Filed under All-grain, Hoppy, IPA, Pale Ale, Session, Small Batch