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02/07/08 08:20 PM  
To blend or not to blend....What to do?
So, sparing the whole prelude to this post, which I have already posted about before, I have a new question about an experimental beer I've been working on. Basically, right now, I have a strong sour ale, sitting on oak chips. This beer is at about 11.5 ABV, with a gravity still resting at 1.048. The gravity hasn't budged much for the past few months.

So, I'm trying to decide what to do with it. It tastes pretty good on its own - think spiked pomegranate juice, but not quite so sweet. I'm actually quite pleased with it, but I'm afraid to let it go anymore becuase it's already quite tart. Not so bad with the extra sugars to back it up, but I fear if it goes much longer (say, over the summer) it will get unbearabley tart. I'm thinking of:

A: Bottling the whole batch.

B: Blending the beer with one or two others (some input would be helpful here to)

C: Bottling half, and blending half.

My question with blending is with running into a problem using a beer already with a bunch of alcohol AND sugar, and what type of beer to blend with. My qualm with bottling is possible eventual over carbonation.

Thoughts are appreciated!


02/08/08 06:36 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
I took a little risk with a very big funky beer about a years ago. It was the all-brett barley wine that I ultimately relabeled and olde ale. It had been spiked with a Fanome brett that I thought was taking over. I decided to chance heating it up to stop the activity. IMO the decision really did pay off, I could not have been happier with where that beer went.
Al B
02/08/08 07:38 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
Blending is a tricky situation. Unless the infected portion is somehow controlled, it will always continue to ferment the uninfected brew (more slowly if chilled obviously).
02/08/08 08:20 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
Yeah I was thinking if I do blend to use a higly attenuated low OG beer. But if I do that, then I'm still stuck with the extra sugars from the original beer.

Steve, so you think I should just keep it alone? I remember you discussing your old ale before. Do you remember what the FG was when you heated it up? As I said this one, if kept alone, has maintaned an grav of 1.048 for a few months now. I was thinking of perhaps just bottling, w/o priming. It already is a tad carbonated in the secondary. One of the inspirations for this beer is almost still a well, so I wonder if just bottling and letting carbo slowly build over time might be the best way to go.....

02/08/08 10:11 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
I think if you don't want to get rid of the sugar, Steve's suggestion makes sense.

And if you do want the residual sugar to be gone, I think the only practical way is to ferment it out with something. But, I bet you can't just pitch some yeast into a sour 11.5% beer and ferment it out, so I think you'd have to dilute it first and then add a huge and active starter.

For instance, you could add 3 gallons of water to your 5 (?)gallons of ale, reducing the ABV to 7% (and reducing the FG to 1.029) and then pitch a 24-hour starter made from 1 pint of wort and 3 packs of Nottingham (just to get the Nottingham going, and slowly bring it into an environment that already has alcohol in it). It might then ferment back up to 9-10 percent.

This is obviously just a seat-of-the-pants conjecture, but it could be tried on a small scale (say 1 qt) first to figure out what will happen.

Oops--just remembered you use a fair bit of extract, so maybe that 48 points just isn't fermentable.

02/12/08 10:22 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
1.048 seems really, really high still. Considering that the alcohol is already 11.5%, the lacto certainly shouldn't be a problem, because at that ABV it's already knocked out. What about rekrausening it? I might try to knock at least ten points off the F.G. if I could.
02/12/08 05:24 PM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
I know the lacto wouldn't work in those alcohol levels but after adding some chips innoculated with cantillon/beersel/fantome bugs it seems to have definitly soured up a bit more.....and i have I've tried adding dry yeastas well as a large yeast cake from another beer.....I'm wondering if I could get some liquid champagne yeast, 3 packs maybe, and make a big starter, add it to a large 6.5 gal carboy and siphon in the beer....
02/13/08 10:12 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
If you really want to knock it down, I think you need to pitch a ton of very healthy yeast that's going full bore and already acclimated to plenty of alcohol. Like 30 grams of dry yeast, innoculated for a few hours in a 1.070 starter.

If that doesn't work then I think dilution might be a more practical way to create an environement where the new yeast can really get started. (Plus you'd get more beer that way.)

BTW I think it's not surprising that the yeast cake didn't work, cause that yeast is spent. But, if you put the yeast cake in a gallon of wort and constantly aerated for 6 hours... I'd expect that to work.

02/13/08 06:27 PM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
Gotcha....what's in a pack of dry yeast - 1g? And what size starter do you think? I know you always suggest the nottingham yeast, but how do you think champagne yeast might work?
02/14/08 10:25 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
I only suggest Nottingham cause I've used it for this kind of thing. Never used champagne yeast but it might work as well as Nottingham. Nottingham is about 10 grams per pack. (Other yeasts may be different but it's usually printed on the pack.)

Also, I think it would actually be best to first rehydrate the yeast in ~95F water per instructions on Lellemand website, and then put it into the small starter to get the yeast into an active state and get them used to alcohol. Sometimes corners can be cut by rehydrating the yeast in wort--but personally I don't think that's the hottest idea for this kind of thing...

02/16/08 10:30 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
Going back to the original question in this thread....

I'm wondering if there is a literature available on techniques for blending. Having just tried Firestone's 11th anniversary beer (a blend of several different brews, some of which themselves were blends) I'm curious how one learns the art of blending. I figure there must be some books out there from the wine industry, no?

02/16/08 11:36 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
I would think for wine there's gotta be something on the basics. But with this particular beer it's a little tough because of the high amount of alcohol AND residual sugars....I just wonder whether if I blended it with, say, a beer at 3-5% alcohol with a FG of 1008-1015, if that would really affect the residual sugars in the large beer, which I would like to ferment out. I suppose I would have a better chance drying it out further in a less alcoholic environment?

And now that I've said this, I looked up at Al's response, which seems to suggest it would continue to ferment out. Al - I don't want to blend for bottling, just to dry out the high gravity brew. So maybe I should try that...

02/16/08 11:46 AM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
And to follow that up.....using that example, what would the gravity and alochol be of a beer blend consisting of 2.5 gal beer #1 (1.13 down to 1.048) + 2.5 gal beer #2 (1.040 down to 1.010)?
Al B
02/16/08 12:51 PM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
There's blending and there's blending sour ales. I don't think Firestones brews are "infected" but I haven't had one. Blending is tricky if Bretts are involved for certain. Unless controlled in some fashion (filtering, pasteurizing, chemical means) they will continue to ferment well above 10%abv. Depending on the Brett, 12-16%abv is possible. Blending with a low alcohol brew should increase the chances of fermenting out the excess sugars of the big batch.

I was going to ask what you used for the souring agent, but I see cantillon/beersel/fantome bugs (good likelyhood of some Brett). So its possible that it will ferment a wee bit more if brett is involved. Only time will tell I think.

02/16/08 01:21 PM  
Re: To blend or not to blend....What to do?
Perhaps that is what I will do then...brew 5 gallons of low-gravity beer, ferment it out, and blend half and half with the large brew.

The brew was originally fermented with WL sour blend and SHG yeast. Then at some point I dumped in dregs of cantillon and later still fantome, and then later after that added chips inocculated with the blend of that three (plus wyeast lambic blend). The beer that originally held the wood chips is quite tart, and this one is getting increasingly tart as well, from the pedio I pressume (can definitly taste some diacetyl in the original beer).

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