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03/18/08 10:31 PM  
Recipes and 1st sour beer in process

i was wondering if anyone can recomend a good source for recipes that you guys have come up with or tried for making sour beers? I want to start a few. i have roselare blend (may have misspelled that) and some white labs sour mix to use up. eventually id like to make 10 gallons of say a saison or wit or tripel and sour up 5 and leave the remainder as is. if i have a recipe i like would it be ok to just add the souring bugs and yeast?

i have a peach lambic type thing that i made 6 or 8 months ago. i started fermenting with yeast then added wyeasts lambic blend then after a few eeks added peaches. after 3 months or so i racked to another carboy and left the peaches behind. it has a pronounced soapy taste and im wondering if i did something wrong or if this might get better eventually?

03/19/08 07:49 AM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
Hey John

If you haven't already seen it you should pick up a copy of Wild Brews. It does a very nice job of explaining the intricacies of dealing with wild yeasts. I think that many here will tell you that the base beer recipe is somewhat less important to the final product compared to beers made with 100% Sacch. That said, long term secondary fermnetations with Brett will eat a lot of the complex sugars that are unfermentable in the "eyes" of Sacch so you may want to mash higher and/or add some source of additional dexrines to your mash.

03/19/08 08:24 AM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
IMO its best to start with the simplest recipe you can (think low on bittering hops). The key to sour beers is not in the grist, you need to really understand the fermentation agents. The simpler the beer, the greater the focus will be on the effects of the microbiology.

Soapy taste ... without doing any looking up I'm going to say this is an effect of fatty acids. Bug experts, is this the right direction?

03/19/08 12:55 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
I second the reference to Wild Brews. It should keep you busy reading for a while and there are some solid recipes in the back.

The grain bill will have an effect on the amount of sourness/wildness, as the bugs tend to do their thing more if they are provided with more of dextrins. But there are so many other factors involved! (See book)

03/20/08 10:33 AM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
Not so sure about that sean, I've had first generation Roeselare blend beers that were barely sour at all. Last year (and again yesterday) I made a Berliner with a very simple grist fermented with just brett C. that came out at least as sour, OG 1.034. Less dextrines to work with than a flander red by far but as much or more sourness.

I've also made high gravity sour beers that were similar in funk/tart level to more conventionally crafted 1.050 beers.

If more dextrines are what you are looking for, I think the mash schedule will play a bigger role than the grain bill. Of course at some level recipe will count. But I've had wild beers made with a complex grain bill that were not that impressive and wild beers made with very simple grain bills that were really nice. For the beginner its a mistake to rely too heavily on a prefect recipe in the search for a strong end product. Its just not that simple.

03/20/08 01:47 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
I also think simpler is better when first looking at the sour beers.

The one I have done several times is similar to a kolsch recipe with about 90% pils and %10 wheat. If you can get acid malt, maybe toss in 10% acid malt too.

Low hops in the 20IBU range.

Another is a generic brown ale recipe with somewhat restrained chocolate or cafara malt and higher levels on munich/vienna.

My latest is what I can thirty, thirty, thirty - 30% each wheat, pils, vienna or munich. Remainder is acid malt. Brewed with 100% brettC.

cheers peteC

03/20/08 04:40 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
There you go. My Berliner is 3.5 lbs pale malt, 3.5 lbs wheat malt. Recipes a real yawner, but it works.
03/20/08 04:57 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process

I think you might be reading into my statement a little too much... I'm just saying that Dextrins=more bug food. But I agree that there are a ton of variables involved. If you tried to think about them all you would probably be worrying too much. I too agree that often, a simple grist is really the best way to get a good sour ale, because there are so many complexities provided by the bugs. Not that I'm procalaiming to be an expert on sour ales! Still learning a lot myself.

Steve, I'm also making a Berlinner Weisse this weekend. Would you be interested in swapping a few bottles later?

03/20/08 11:17 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
Sure, always up for a chatroom tasting session. If it goes like last time mine might be ready in a couple weeks.
03/21/08 04:15 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
So will the fatty acids (soap taste) mellow as time goes on? would it be wise to add a little of another sour mix to it as it doesnt seem all that sour to me.

Ive got wild brews but havent gotten to it yet. ill bump it up on my to do list.

as far as recipes in general, do you guys recommend or post on any recipe sites?

03/21/08 07:44 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
The specific fatty acid involved is probably decanoic acid, a saturated fatty acid that is said to exhibit soapy characteristics. I have never experienced it, but if the yeast in your batch produce the proper esterases, the acid will, in the presence of alcohol, convert to ethyl caprate, which is often described as "fruity" in character.

So in other words, there is some chance of your beer becoming less objectionable with enough aging -- don't dump it yet.

03/22/08 11:52 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
Thanks MarkO. i wont dump it, i had a batch of awful infected bear (from fruit im guessing) and i drank every damn drop on principle. but it is good to know theres hope this will be better.
03/23/08 08:01 AM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
Hey MarkO

I think esterases split esters (hence the name) into acids and alcohol-- not the other way around. Am I mistaken?

03/23/08 09:20 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
That could be -- I am pretty much just parroting page 102 of Wild Brews on this, rather than speaking from any personal biochem expertise: "The esters ethyl caproate (hexanoate), ethyl caprate (decanoate) . . . also derive from alcohol and the respective acid, and may contribute a distinctive, overpowering fruity character . . ."

The only thing I can say from experience is that I have had more pLambics get better with age than worse, even if it took a couple of years. The only thing that has ever really come up here as an unfixable problem is acetic acid -- once there is too much of that, there is little one can do, other than blend. Fortunately, that's pretty easy to avoid.

03/24/08 07:05 AM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
You know on further reflexion it must just be a reversible reaction so that the esterase can perform either function.

not really that important one way or another.

thanks for the input Mark

03/24/08 11:11 AM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
"You know on further reflexion it must just be a reversible reaction so that the esterase can perform either function."

This is right.

BTW I saw an interesting paper recently from KU-Leuven on the aging of Belgian ales, where the ester levels (especially banana) went down faster with time when the beers were bottle conditioned, vs. filtered & force carbed. They suggested this is due to esterases released by the conditioning yeast.

That turns some old homebrewing "knowledge", about how yeast supposedly turn fusels into esters during aging, on its head. I think the reverse is more likely true in most cases--but hey maybe sacc yeast really do continue to make esters in some other cases.)

03/24/08 02:37 PM  
Re: Recipes and 1st sour beer in process
Actually I think I should have said there are esterases that destroy and esterases that create--I'm not sure there are normal circumstances where one particular esterase would have a large effect in other than one direction.
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