Jul 11 2009

Stupid Sexy Flanders 7-4-09 Tasting

I’ve mentioned before that I love sour beers, but they take  a long time to ferment and age.   This means their feedback loop is long, and that it is difficult to tweak recipes and experiment with them in timely way.  Jeff gave me a good suggestion about tasting them every few months and taking notes. 

Despite the fact it is common for these styles to simply taste awful until one arbitrary day, many months later, when they turn into something magical, I think I will try to do that.  It may or may not be valuable data, but it is taking an action of sorts and that is a tiny bit of relief. 

This is a Flanders Red, and it started with an original gravity of 1.058 on May 23rd and it dropped to a 1.026 two days later with the help of a packet of Safale-05.  At that point, I racked it into a secondary PET carboy, pitched the Wyeast Roeselare blend, and added 1 ounce of medium toast French oak cubes that I had steamed and soaked in pinot noir for 2 weeks.

A mere month and a half later, the gravity is down to 1.012.  The PET container had small, floating bits of pellicle, but no noticeable other activity.  I pulled a  4 ounce sample off the carboy, measured the gravity and poured it into a tasting glass.

Stupid Sexy Flanders 7-4-09


The appearance was a light brown with gold and ruby highlights.  Very warm and inviting.  It appeared at bit thin, which is not unusual for a style that ferments down so low.  

It is very early in this young beer’s life, but there were hints of subtle barnyard notes in the aroma and taste.  (More so in the taste.)  I couldn’t not detect any sourness and they was plenty of malt flavor in there for the bugs to dig into for the next year. 

It was interesting for me to see how quickly the yeast and lambic cultures have torn into the beer.  It appears that it will take quite a while for the lactic bacteria to do its job and to sour and acidify.  I’m not known for my patience, but I will try to be.

I’ll taste this one again at the six month mark.


May 28 2009

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.)


May 19 2009

Upcoming Homebrews 5-19-09 Update

What the heck am I brewing?

The west coast IPA that christened my new keggle is cold crashing in secondary, and I just need to find the time to bottle that.

The Coconut Curry Hefeweizen is bottled and will be fully carbonated sometime this week.  Frankly, that one still scares me.  It should you, too.

The next two I’m going to tackle are a big Flanders Red/American Wild ale and a Gumball Head clone of my own design.

The Flanders was inspired by the Avery Brabant and I will age that on wood I’ve soaked in pinot noir.  I want to get that going ASAP, because it’ll need to age for 2 freaking years.  When did I get all this patience?  This doesn’t sound like me….

The second one is an American wheat beer with a ton of Amarillo hops.  Three Floyds beers were available in Virginia for a short time before they figured out that they couldn’t meet demand and pulled out.  That was long enough for me to get painfully addicted to Alpha King (which they call a pale ale, but it is an amazing IPA).  While they were around, I also grew fond of their Gumball Head that shook up what I thought about the category of an American wheat.

After that?  I don’t know.  I’ll gladly take suggestions. 

I want to try to do a light summer lager.  Not because I love the style, but because it’ll be real hard to do right.

Then, when it gets really hot, it’ll be saison time.