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Like the BBB, the homeBBBrew board is not a club, just a place to talk about making beer. Is there a swap you would like to see happen? If we can find a few others who have something similar then lets do it!

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05/17/07 03:21 PM  
Fermentation time for Mars?
Hi there. I have been pestering the people on the other board with questions about meerts fermenation for a few days now -- and thought I would start over here, as well.

I am basically interested in putting together a mars for some faro blending, once the season starts up again next fall. I have very little information on mars formulation, and primarily am wondering how long it typically ferments before blending with the oude pLambiek.

05/17/07 03:40 PM  
Re: Fermentation time for Mars?
Well, its tough to formulate fermentation time for Mars given the mostly CO2 atmosphere and extra 35 million miles from the Sun...

Sorry. Astronomer joke. Really though, if I understand what Mars is I'm not sure I get the question. I thought Mars is a "small beer" made from second runnings of regular lambic. Last week Filip was saying (over across the street) that Mars was mostly a ladies drink cause of its lighter alcohol, which would track with that. I would have concluded that Mars, in any traditional sense, is not a candidate for blending with faro or anything else. Also, the objective of working faro is a matter of adding candi sugar, not additional beer. Traditionally the sugar was to hide the taste of a lambic gone bad, blending other beer in there would be like trying to make clean water out of muddy water by adding some more fresh water. It sounds to me more like Mars a lambic answer to Berliner Weisse.

That being the case I wonder if the ferment time would be more or less? I mean you still need the same bugs to do the same thing as in regular lambic.

05/17/07 04:21 PM  
Re: Fermentation time for Mars?
The astronomy joke works on this end: former astrophysicist here, at least as an undergrad oh so long ago.

I too understood mars to be from the second runnings of a lambic mash (but heard over there that Frank Boon has been known to brew one "directly"). I got the mars for blending tidbit, I believe, from "Wild Brews" (which I have loaned out, so can't doublecheck), from Randy Mosher's R"adical Brewing," and, if I remember right, believe that Jean-Paul van Roy may have said this as we were trying his faro on Gheude Straat (I may be incorrect in this recollection, as I was fairly blissed out at the time).

My assumption is that the meerts is not fermented for long, so that the residual maltose sweetens the blend with the harder aged stuff. But I too assume that one adds straight sugar into the mix as well -- that is the only thing that would account for the high levels of sweetness I have encountered with faro. I am not necessarily a fan of this, but am highly curious about the procedure for making it.

With my ambient fermentations, it seems like there are only the briefest of windows for drinking the stuff; the 3- to 6-month old stuff, in the height of summer in an open fermenter, can be rather unpleasant. Or perhaps it behaves differently with a lower specific gravity? So many questions . . .

05/17/07 07:39 PM  
Re: Fermentation time for Mars?
A couple things:

>>former astrophysicist here<<

Wow! A very active ameture astronomer here. Nice to know!

About the other stuff... Dan Shelton wrote some great stuff on his blog about Faro, I think some of the principles would translate to Boon making a Mars. The way he described it, if you are a true traditionalist there cannot be a bottled faro. In the olden days they would make faro out of a lambic they could sell no other way. Adding sugar to it made it palatable, but of course given the fermentation activity of lambic this could cause a problem. The solution: drink it out of the keg right away! Traditional lambic is always bottle conditioned, so if you sugared up your lambic and bottled it you'd make grenades. Some producers do bottle faros now-a-days, the only possible way is to cheat.You need to do something to stiffle the yeast/bugs in the bottle. So they call it faro, but in a true traditional sense it is not that but a modernized immitation that romanticizes the original.

Certainly if staying with the letter of tradition is not your concern you could do the same with a Mars. Namely make something more robust than tradional Mars but still call it Mars anyway. One question, and its probably more appropriate for the other board, but who has actually tasted an authenic Mars? I can say for one that I have not, so can speak of the subject in theoretical terms only. I will say though that the second runnings, sell it to whomever you can concept makes perfect sense to me. There is not a lot of money in lambic making, I can appreciate a producer doing whatever he can to squeeze a few more bucks out of it.

In thinking about it I would say it makes sense to me that the fermentation process would be shorter. And the result might not be entirely recognizable as a lambic relative. I say that cause of my recent experience with the Berliner made with Clausinii. A 1055 beer fermented like that would have come out very different than my 1035 wort.

05/18/07 08:19 PM  
Re: Fermentation time for Mars?
You have certainly cleared up something for me: I have always wondered why someone would ruin a good beer by sweetening it -- sounds like the answer is, it is getting rid of bad beer. That is bound to happen once in a while; I myself was pretty nervous about that acetic one-year old lambic a while back, and it turns out that one answer was to blend it - worked great.

As far as Lambic brewers making money it is sad but true. But I have hunch that Russian River won't be hurting too badly with what they have going on, and if it spreads (hopefully north, to my lil state of Oregon), the economics could change. You will always have that major downside of brewing for 3+ years before you even have something to sell, though. That is why you should come up with something like Pliny the elder! I wouldn't be surprised if places like Cantillon 110 - odd years ago did something similar with a simple pop beer that would keep them in the black for a couple of years.

I am never too terribly hung up on tradition, especially inasmuch as it interferes with other, more interesting phenomena, be it skill, creativity, freedom, whatever.

Awww too much rambling, I have a bottle of RR's Temptation staring me in teh face right now!


05/20/07 10:10 AM  
Re: Fermentation time for Mars?
MarkO, how'd I miss this???

>>With my ambient fermentations...<<

I thought I was the only one who did this. Please elaborate on your ambient efforts, we may have some neat things to discuss. Steve

05/21/07 06:29 PM  
Re: Fermentation time for Mars?
Well Steve, I will give you a brief rundown:

Started nearly three years ago, after an inspirational trip to Brussels.

Attempt number one was a dumper -- it was an all-barley infusion mash brewed in September 2004, which turned to vinegar.

I tried one more time that season, in December '04, brewing a 35% unmalted wheat turbid mash (procedure cribbed from Jim Liddil's "Cult of the Lambic Brewer" website). After a long, fumbling attempt to turbid mash, followed by a very long boil (notes indicate the whole process taking 12-13 hours!), I pumped the wort into a makeshift koelschip in my woodshed, and let it cool overnight. Then I racked to a glass fermenter, left open, and it did not ferment at all. After a month of no visible activity, I dosed it with the dregs of a Cantillon Bruocsella 1900. Still left the fermenter open, but covered with a piece of paper during the following fruitfly season in the spring. This turned out extremely well, and I took about half of it last year to rack atop some sour plums from trees adjacent to my garage/brewery. The remaining two or so gallons still in fermenter, awaiting a geueze blending this fall with some younger varieties.

The next year, I did three total batches, two of which received dregs of various Belgian creations, and one of which was "free-form." The ambient batch, brewed in March, took off right away, and even developed something that looked like a brettanomyces pellicle. I am assuming that somehow the wild species began to take hold in the environment (I did have a couple of boil-overs during brew sessions, which soaked into some of the wood near where I have the fermenters, giving the bugs something to eat?). The reason I make this assumption is that all 4 batches of pLambic this year (brewed from December through April) took right off, with no artificial assistance.

I think there are a couple of factors in favor of ambient fermentations here (in Portland, OR):

1. Mild winters and summers, where I don't have to worry about the beers freezing out in my detached garage;

2. Fruit trees and grapes everywhere in my neighborhood; almost every house on my street has either apples, cherries, or plums;

3. Fairly light insect populations in the summer, with a correspondingly high population of spiders (there is a regular spider civilization developing above all of my open fermenters, and they look pretty well fed.

Do you think there are enough of us for a swap? I could easily tap into some of the 1-year old jonge pLambiek for shipping . . .

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