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Eric K
03/06/06 02:20 PM  
Funky Farmhouse Ale
I’m over zealous when it comes to farmhouse ales, mostly a result of using traditional grains such as unmalted wheat, oats, and rye in the recipe. I truly enjoy a long arduous day of multiple mash steps or even a decoction mash schedule. Call me crazy, but I like the process as much as the final product.

I brewed a low gravity farmhouse ale this weekend to “step-up” a couple of yeast strains (WLP530 and WLP565) prior to brewing some high gravity batches in the near future. I designed a simple recipe that would (hopefully) allow the yeast flavors to dominate: 60% DWC Pilsner and 40% unmalted spelt. I added

two-year old Czech Saaz hops @ 80 and 20 min into boil, 2 ounces/addition. I did a long mash schedule that included an all-night acid rest, followed by a 60 min protein rest, and 4 different Saccharification rests at 20-30 minutes each.

When I do an all-night acid rest I’ll mash-in the grains with cold tap water, which is about 45F up here in the mountains. This temperature probable doesn’t acidify the mash very much, but it does help breakdown the unmalted grains and saves me time the next day.

Ok, the point of my post: I changed this COLD all-night acid rest (45F) to a WARM all-night acid rest (111F) this weekend. I woke-up in the morning, pulled the lid off the pot, and “Poof”….a thick, foamy, fermenting, smelly pile of grains. The smell was strongly reminiscent of wet hay fermenting in a barn for couple of weeks, instead of a nice fresh wheat/pilsner aroma I was so used to before. I continued with my brew day, but the smell didn’t diminish that much. The smell even lingered into the carboy, smelled of Saaz hops in a barn.

Has anyone else had the same experience? If so, how did the beer turn out? I’m worried about the funk factor…..too much funk may be too difficult to swallow.

03/06/06 02:53 PM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
I think Chet can comment here, he made a sour mash beer that was part of a recent swap that involved grain sitting in warm fluid for a extended period. The character there carried over to the finished beer, one descriptor was "sour milk". I've done acid rests, but I've never heard of doing one over night. Uncontrolled fermentation is inevitable under those conditions. Remember, fermentation is essentially the art of controlled spoilage, if you take out the element of control, well, see where this is going? Its actually been a while since I've done an acid rest, but I recall it to be at about 105F for about as long as you'd do a regular rest.
03/06/06 03:38 PM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
I also cold soak my unmalted wheat (6lbs) which was used in a Wit recipe this last weekend. I did try to get a very small sour mash of a pound of crushed Pilsner mashed at 150F then added a small amount of fresh cracked grain when it reached 120F and let it sit over night. I didn't notice much change. Good thing I always add some acid malt to my Wits. I also enjoy step mashing even though a lot of folks think it is not necessary with today's malts but I notice that you get a more complex malt profile in the finished product.
03/06/06 04:18 PM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
I had this happen to me once. I mashed in at 130F in a cooler and left it all night, by morning it was around 95 and quite stinky. I was certain all hell had broken loose, and the only thing I could do to salvage such a mess would be to make a funky beer like lambic with it. I decided to go ahead as planned but decided to sparge super hot (190F) to kill some microorganisms, and try and drive off as many funky volatiles as I could. That helped but the boil really fixed it. About halfway through the boil the smell returned to 95% normal. Turned out to be good beer, although you could tell something was different about it.
03/06/06 04:20 PM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
I've done a number of sourmashes - a long boil (at least 90 minutes) usually will drive off the aroma and leave behind a tartness.

Usually I don't get much from an overnight mash - I'll mash in on a Friday night, leave it set till Sunday to brew (and toss in some fresh grain once it's under 120 degrees).

The aroma (if not driven off in the boil) will stay with the beer - the one in the swap Steve mentioned was over a year and a half old.

03/06/06 04:21 PM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
Cisco, is this what is known as a lactic mash? I found the term in a wit recipe recently, but there was no attending explanation of how to do one or even what one is.
03/06/06 06:16 PM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
Mallace - yes I believe that a lactic mash is the same as a sour mash.
Eric K
03/06/06 09:08 PM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
Thanks for the support. It's good to hear that I'm not alone in the sour mash accident/experiment. I did a 90 minute boil, so the stink should be reduced. In fact, I just went to the fermentation room to double check, pulled the stoppers and took a big-ol sniff. No real off aromas! This beer may actually turn out. Go figure.

Steve, I did some research on the acid rest temperature (see John Palmers how to brew book/online guide) and found out that the temperature range is 86-126F. I typically do an acid rest at 96-106F, but tweeked it a bit according to a traditional Saison step mash schedule.

I make an unmalted white wheat Wit (www?) about four times a year that utilizes an overnight rest in cold water. The recipe is very simple with just a touch of spices. I call it Zen. It's become one of my most sought after brews by my friends. I'm not sure if its the long step schedule, the ingredients, spices, yeast, or all the above, but it is a fantistic Farmhouse Wit. I'm willing to share to BBB members....if interested.

03/07/06 06:46 AM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
<<...and found out that the temperature range is 86-126F>>

Wow, then one could conceivably do an acid rest and protien rest at the same time? 122F is supposed to be the lower effective end for that. Did that source note if there was a difference between using the high and low ends of that range?

<<I'm willing to share to BBB members....if interested>>

I have to admit the process you are describing is a new one on me. Personally I'd love to know more.

Eric K
03/07/06 11:18 AM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
Here's a link describing enzyme activity, temperature rests, and the desired outcomes:


Eric K
05/24/06 10:28 PM  
Re: Funky Farmhouse Ale
Well, I finally tapped one of my 'funky farmhouse ale", the WLP530 version. The color is like a bleached tequila sunrise; a pale spelt color, like a transparent pink adobe wall radiating a New Mexico sunset. My better half mentioned that the glass of beer had all it's color in the center, and nothing on the edges....hmmmm, better taste that brew I thought.

The aroma was slightly funky, kind of cheesy, but very, very slight. The taste was tart, slightly bitter, and refreshing. Hummmm, another sip was in order. Yep, a definate lactose infused light brew. If I left out the majority of hops, I think this could pass as a Berliner Weiss.

Time to try the Saison spicy version....

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