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Author Replies
Ryan
10/20/07 05:10 PM  
Concorde grapes with Brett
Any experience?

I just bought several pounds having been unable to find cherries. The tartness of the grapes (especially the skins and seeds) seems like it should be a nice complement to the souring action of Brett.

My plan is to drop these along with B. lambicus into a belgian dubbel that was primaried with Abbey ale 2.

SAH
10/20/07 10:09 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
The only pitfall I can think of, as a winemaker by profession, is that in my experience any fermented beverage made with concord grapes ends up tasting like grape jelly or juice. That taste is so distinctive that many, myself included, can't get past it. I could go on, but mainly I just want to say be prepared for that very distinctive/strong flavor to be in your beer. Many don't mind it and even enjoy it, but I think it can end up tasting like fake/candy grape taste. All that to say, I'm not sure how it would end up with all those other flavors/funk/sourness.
Mike T
10/21/07 09:34 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
I just happened to read the rescription for a beer called

Bacchus from the Alchemist which is going to be at the Beer Advocate Belgian Fest next weekend.

"American wild ale made with Concord grapes and fermented entirely with a three way blend of Brettanomyces; 7.0%"

The few reviews seem positive:

beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/8227/38424

Jimbo
10/21/07 11:27 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
I was recently gifted a bag of these grapes by a friend with some vines. I stuck them in the freezer and am waiting till I need to a rack something interesting to put a gallon or so on top of these. I kinda like the idea of the characteristic grape jelly smell/taste in the right ale. As they won't be sanitized, they'll likely introduce all the wild yeasties on their own. Thanks for the info, guys.
Ryan
10/22/07 06:30 AM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
How ironic

Bacchus was what originally made me think to use concorde grapes!

I was wondering if the grape will come through in a dark ale that is similar in malt profile to a Rochefort.

SteveG
10/22/07 11:02 AM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
note that the part of the concord grape that gives it that fake/candy (i like to say "purple") taste is the skin. its amazing the first time you taste/smell that in an organic product! if you want to beat back the candy effect play with using less or no skins.
Ryan
10/22/07 11:37 AM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Great advice steve.

Have you done this? If so, what flavors do you get from the boogery part of the grape?

SteveG
10/22/07 12:59 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Ive not brewed with concord grapes but i've made jam from them. the skins are very thick, you put a grape between your finger and thumb and squeeze, the inside comes popping out (solid and slimey). the insides go in one bowl, the skins in another. The aroma is impossible to miss! if you didnt grind up and add the skins to the cooking insides I dont think you would recognize the end product as grape jam.

never done skinless jam, it would probably be worth experiementing with a few grapes. Its hard to imagine there would be no purple character to just the insides, actually the more I think about it the more unsure I am as to where the aroma lies. but I'd bet skins vs. no skins would prove an option worth exploring.

Ryan
10/22/07 01:04 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
This might be the weirdest comment I've posted to this board, but my technique for eating concordes is to squeeze the booger out of the skin, eating this inside part first and then eat the skin afterwards.

I love the slimey part.

SteveG
10/22/07 02:28 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
its official - I fear you! It has been a couple years since I made jam, the more I think about it the more uncertain I am about where the flavors come from. Still worth an experiment though IMO.
MarkO
10/22/07 08:19 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
I have never tried that, so can't give any advice. I have dropped some cab sauv grapes from the backyard into a plambic beer, though, and would definitely try it again.
Ryan
10/22/07 08:33 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
MarkO

how much fruit did you use?

I'm thinking that given the strength of the concordes I'll use 2lbs in about 3 gallons (maybe depeeling a pound as per steveG's suggestion)

ryan

MarkO
10/22/07 08:57 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
I actually did a pretty heavy 1.5 lbs./gallon -- I was going for as close to a kriek schedule as I could get from my backyard harvest. I left the skins and pits intact, because I wanted those wild yeasts off the skin at the time; but don't know anything about concord grapes nor their distinction from the cabernet for the purposes of brewing.
SAH
10/22/07 10:18 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Well you inspired me. Today I racked a belgian pale onto some fermenting red wine(juice/skins/flesh/seeds)I pulled out. It was our red blend of various red grapes cab/mer/cham/russian varieties. Once it finishes I'm going to add some brett or lambic blend.
Ryan
10/23/07 07:07 AM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Cool

After talking with MikeT and seeing some of these posts, I wonder if anyone would be interested in designing some grape/wine inspired beers with Brett for a swap?

SteveG?

SteveG
10/23/07 10:17 AM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
If there is interest I'm all for it. Usually I try to get at least 4 for a swap, but really if just 2 people had beers they wanted to sample together there is no reason you couldn't ship to each other and sample in the chat room. Ryan, want to take the lead here? If you put togehter the names I'll get the ball rolling for you. Cool swap concept!
Ryan
10/23/07 10:51 AM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
SteveG

I know that MikeT has stuff going and has indicated interest. If SAH is down for joining then thats three. It would be fun to pick up a theme and go from there...

others with experience?

AlB?

Jimbo?

Cisco?

N8?

SteveG?

MarkO?

Others I don't know and don't want to leave out?

mallace
10/23/07 03:47 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
MarkO--

appellationamerica.com has some interesting and not-too technical descriptions of the characteristics of different grape varietals (presented in both prose and cartoon format...). Essentially, the character of grapes will differ mostly based on acids and tannins, as well as the size of the berries. For example, cabernet sauvignon is relatively high in acid, very high in tannin, and, with small berries, there is lots of skin and seed and a farily small amount of pulp. This results in powerhouse wine: rich flavors and colors from the skin, serious tannin from the skin, decent acid (that is usually moderated with a malolactic bacteria), and a wine that needs to age but will also stand up to the passage of time. Concord grapes tend to be much lower in acid and flavor compounds, and end up tasting, for lack of a better word, grapey, and need to be drunk much sooner.

Also consider that the amount of character you get from the grapes will depend on how you treat them; if, like in making wine, you punch the cap down vigorously twice a day for a week or ten days, you are going to get tons of color and more tannin, which might result in a product that needs considerable age to take the edges off (I'm not sure how tannins and acids behave in beer, though). Less contact time and less punching down will result in less character, and I would guess a beer that is ready to drink while the century is still young.

Jeff Sparrow, in Wild Ales, has a recipe for adding grapes to a beer (I can't remember which recipe it is...), and he warns that grapes are quite acidic, and can result in staggeringly tart beer, especially when combined with brett or other bugs. He advises caution and moderation.

Follow-up question: my wine is already pressed off, so I don't have any grape solids hanging around; has anyone ever just blended pre-made wine with pre-made beer?

N8
10/23/07 06:44 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
You know I'd love to join in, but with a recovereing broken wing I'm limited to my brewing. I've got several projects going and getting an assistant brewer can be difficult. I would definetly love to see the outcome of what you guys come up with, though.
SAH
10/23/07 09:30 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
I'm down, but its going to be a while before its ready. The beer was finished, but the wine was still fermenting which means now its fermenting in the beer(bubbling away).

Which does lead me to a question, which wild yeast should I add? I have Brett C, Lambic Blend(wy), Roeselare, and Brett L(coming this week)? Any ideas?

Ryan
10/24/07 07:59 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
SAH

In my limited (=zero) experience, I'd say toss in the Brett l. since it is likely to do something cherry like....might go nicely with grapes.

Like i said....0 experience.

sweasty
10/24/07 08:54 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Depending on the strain(Wyeast = cherry vs white labs= smokey), the brett l. could add a nice cherry like funk that may complement the wine aspect.
MarkO
10/31/07 11:43 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
I am going to have to pass as well, all of my blends this year involved plums, and my grapes have gone into inferior wines.

My sour japanese plums just make a better blend with the pLambics -- at least for my tastes.

Mais vive la differance.

Jimbo
11/14/07 11:25 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
I've been a little distracted by my Apple Smack (super high gravity cyser,) but I'm still thinking about this for my next brew. The swap sounds interesting, but forgive my ignorance; how does a 'swap' work? I just weighed the grapes I was gifted and I've only got 10 oz. Concords. Is that even enough to be detectable in a 5 gallon batch? I'll either have to make as light an ale as possible to showcase them or only rack one to two gallons onto them or both. Any advice on this?
Ryan
11/15/07 10:38 AM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Jimbo

I can only tell you what I ended up doing. After wading through the advice of others, I racked four gallons onto just under two pounds of grapes. I only left the skins on half of them though...hoping to reduce the jelly like flavors that others talked about. I then added Brett lambicus on top of that and have it in secondary in a bucket right now. If it goes for awhile and still hasn't finished off, I will rack it out of the bucket and into glass to limit O2 diffusion.

If we swap, depending on how many people are involved, we just exchange addresses, send out beers to everyone (or a subset...again depends on numbers) and then drink them together in the BBB chatroom.

Jimbo
11/15/07 08:19 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Right on. That sounds like fun. Now, what type of ale to use... Since I'm going so light on the grapes, I'll need something simple without too much character on its own. I'll take a look at some recipes from Radical Brewing and see what strikes my fancy. I guess what I'm saying is "I'm in."
Ryan
12/21/07 11:31 AM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Racked into a keg today.

Grosse!

Acidic, harsh, blah

mallace
12/21/07 12:26 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Ryan--two questions before I submit any suggestions for your consideration:

1: do you have any wine-making experience?

2: are you hitting the beer with any oak?

Ryan
12/21/07 01:08 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Hey Mallace

1. No

2. Yes...about a half oz in 4 gallons.

mallace
12/21/07 03:48 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
The reason that I was asking is that grapes behave a bit differently that wort does, and winemaking also approaches acid much differently than brewing does.

As for acids, in sour beer making, we are, in general, trying to create acidic flavors, whereas winemaking, in general, is trying to moderate acidic flavors. Two week-old wine is nastily tart. The most prevalent acid in grapes is malic acid, which is a pretty harsh tasting acid. Winemakers will often add a culture of Leuconostoc oenos or Oenococcus oeni bacteria, which will convert the malic acid into lactic acid, which is much more pleasant to the palate. This conversion also has the benefit (in wainemaking) of producing some diacetyl, which will somewhat fatten the taste of the wine (especially in reds) and also enhance its mouthfeel. If you want to see the direct effects of this fermentation, compare a dry, minerally Chablis with a buttery California chardonnay. Same grapes, very different wines. I have no idea what would happen if you pitched some ML bacteria in your beer, but if you think it's gross right now, what is there to lose beyond the $10 for the culture?

I'm also not that fmailiar with the typical chemistry of concord grapes; but they are avoided in winemaking for a reason, I suppose...

As for oak, I think it affects wine differently than it does beer. My personal experience tells me that it tends to be bigger beers that see oak more than smaller beers--in other words, beers that already have a pretty big mouthfeel, or, if they are drier, at least they have a good amount of body alreay in the base beer as a result of what winemaking would call residual sugars (and what we would call final gravity), so it is flavor and aroma the brewer is shooting for. Wine, of course, usually finishes bone dry--I am at this moment drinking my 2006 merlot-cabernet franc blend (for reference, typical of the St. Emillion region of Bordeaux), which finished at 0.990--and as a result, can appear to be thin of body. Time in or on oak tends to change this dramatically. This is going to sound perhaps frustratingly nebulous, but oak adds a certain "depth" to wine flavors that is more important than oak aroma or flavor. Before the oak, this wine was kind of limp. But after the oak, it is far more solid. It isn't oaky, but the presence of oak shows itself in the complexity of the flavor--it's a background note, but the wine would be thoroughly lacking without it. I went with about 2 ounces of medium toast new oak balls for about three months for 5 gallons on this wine, and it is just the right amount. For my taste, of course.

I might recommend upping the quantity of oak a bit, and just tasting as it goes to see if that depth develops.

Speaking of time, also remember that wine lives on an extended time scale; my whites spend about 9 months in secondary, and my reds spend up to a year (they would spend more if I had an unlimited amount of carboys, but I dont, and the new wine's got to go somewhere, so...). It takes at least that amount of time for the wine to drop its yeastiness and start tasting like wine I'd pay for. Of course, for some beers we don't want to drop the yeastiness, so that is a compromise that you'll have to decide on.

Again, I'm speaking from what experience I have making wine, and have no experience putting grapes in beer, so this might all be a bunch of hooey.

Anyone else who knows more about grapes, please comment, correct, scold, upbraid...

Rya n
12/21/07 03:57 PM  
Re: Concorde grapes with Brett
Hey Mallace

thank you for the very informed thoughts. From what i've read here by others, I am way way way too early into a funked beer to worry about how gross it tastes but it is sickeningly tart.

I have some malo. Maybe I'll wait and see what its like in 6 months and then decide....

For now, its out of the bucket and into stainless (and I flushed with co2) so it should be safe for many months.

I guess I'll decide later. I just feel like I'm on an journey without a compass...the info. on this board has been great for knowing what SHOULD happen, but how the hell do you know what WILL happen down the road?

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