Flanders Red Batch 2009 – Brew Day

This one is my first attempt at a Flanders Red.  And with how much I’ve been digging on and obsessing about sour ales, it was only a matter of time. Although this one will test my patience in aging it full term.

I brewed it on the Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend (5/23/09), and the base formula was riffed off of Jamil’s Recipe despite the fact that his grain bill seems a little complicated for the style.  I played it loose with the base grains, and used some of my British Golden Promise instead of Pilsener malt.  I rounded that out with Vienna, Munich, Wheat, Aromatic CaraMunich and Special ‘B’. 

I also used hop plugs for what might be the first time in my ~14 years of brewing.  Now that my keggle is up and in action, I might be leaning more towards whole hops over pellets since they should filter out better with the new set-up.

The game plan here was to control some of the sourness by initially fermenting it with a clean, American yeast.  So the original gravity was a 1.058 when I pitched the Safale-05.  I let that go for 48 hours and then I racked it into a secondary, which is my wild and funky PET container, and pitched the Roeselare blend.  (The Wyeast 3763 Roeselare is a Rodenbach blend of lambic cultures and lactic bacteria.)  By that time, the batch had fermented down to a 1.026, and I figured that would give the wild bugs a lot of sugars to slowly eat through over the next 18 months.

It is standard to age these beers in oak barrels as well, but that is a little harder to do on the homebrew level.  To compensate for this, I added 1 ounce of medium toast French oak cubes to the secondary.  My twist is that I first sanitized the cubes by steaming them, and then I soaked them in pinot noir for about a month before pitching them in the secondary.  This is not a standard practice, but the Flanders Red style is red-winish and often called the “Burgundy of Belgium”.  Inspired the Avery Brabant, which is aged in zinfandel barrels, it seemed like an interesting thing to do.  I’m hoping it’ll add a tiny bit more complexity.

One week down and 71 one more to go.  Damn.

And, yes, this already has been named “Stupid Sexy Flanders”. (Thank you, Matt.)

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4 Responses to “Flanders Red Batch 2009 – Brew Day”

  • Sour Beers and the Long Feedback Loop | Barlow Brewing Says:

    […] to speed up the feedback loop on beers that take several years to make.  I have a Flanders Red (Stupid Sexy Flanders) Ale that I brewed at the end of May, and it is fermenting away.  I’m pretty excited about […]

  • The Dominion Cup 2009 Homebrew Competition | Barlow Brewing Says:

    […] old barleywine, that I aged a little longer on bourbon and oak cubes, took 2nd place.  Also, my Flanders Red, which is a beer that often doesn’t find its stride until about 18 months, got a 2nd place medal […]

  • James Says:

    I’m all set to brew a Flanders Red this weekend. It’ll be my first time attempting the style. I’m following the recipe in the book Wild Brews and pitching only the Roselare blend.

    I like the idea of soaking the cubes in some wine before adding them to the beer, I think I’ll borrow that one. It should also help strip out some of the more aggressive oak flavor.

  • BarlowBrewing Says:

    Good luck, James. I’m sure you’ll knock it out of the park. Roeselare requires a patience that I know you have from your work with lagers. But the key, in the final beers for me, has been the additions of sour commercial dregs in secondary.

    At first, my soaking of the cubes in wine was to replicate Russian River’s wine barrel aged beers, and I really like the subtle notes it brings to the final beer. It might reduce the harshness of the wood, but I always steam my cubes to sanitize them. I believe that does more to pull out the aggressiveness and opens up the wood more.

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