Won’t you take me to Funkytown

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I’ve been wanting to brew a proper sour beer for ages now.  Having binge listened (or gang listened as they say) to The Sour Hour I’ve finally plucked up the courage to step into the funk.

I’ve played with a bretted saison and used the Funktown Pale Ale yeast but I really want to delve into it properly.

I’ve been a fan of Belgian Lambics for a while now.  I was very lucky to have some friends who lived in Brussels who took me to Cantillon when I stayed with them back in 2013 and have recently got into American sours since they have become more readily available to buy over here.

A huge thanks to my Boyfriend’s brother Mark for buying me Michael Tonsmeire’s American Sour Beers book.  It has been an invaluable resource, I highly recommend it to anyone who is thinking about trying to brew a sour beer.

I also been very lucky in that I still have a brett strain from Chorlton Brewery to use.

I decided to do a strong Belgian style brown. I got a but merry one night and decided to grow the dregs of a bottle of Cascade Sang Noir which are raging with lactobacillus.

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My malt bill was as follows

3kg Pale malt
1.2kg Munich malt
1kg Pilsner
340g Biscuit
340g Crystal
60g Acid malt
60g Midnight Wheat
400g dark candi sugar
15g Hallertauer at 60 mins

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I’ve made sure I have a separate set of equipment to use for any sour brewing I do and it is kept in a completely separate room to my clean stuff.  I mashed at 68c and stepped up to 75c at the end. I mashed high to get as much dextrose out of the grain for the bugs to feed on. I also kept the IBU low as anything over 8 will start to inhibit the lacto. I couldn’t find any Belgian yeast that I wanted in stock but my local homebrew shop, Water into Beer in Brockley, had some Mangrove Jack Belgian Ale Yeast so I went with that.

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It fermented rapidly and went down to 1.010 very quickly.  I moved it to secondary (glass demijohns) and pitched the Cascade Sang Noir dregs and the Chorlton Brett.

I pitched some dregs from a bottle of Boon Black label into one of the demi-johns, can you guess which one?

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I’m quite patient when it comes to brewing so I have no problem waiting around for this to develop. Plus I find the whole process of the pellicle development fascinating.  I plan to add some more brett to layer up the flavour profile later on.

I am planning to do a spontaneous fermentation in the near future. I have a shed with windows that open onto a cherry tree so hoping there are some good yeasts and bacteria floating around. I may cheat a little by spiking my shed with bugs. If anyone has any advice on doing a turbid mash on a Braumeister,  I’m all ears.

 

 

 

 

 

I Gose Back to Black

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Simon was on his mate’s stag weekend in Lisbon so I decided to brew a beer and have some friends over.  I invited Mick and Si to pop over for a brewday (ie I brew beer whilst Mick and Si ask me silly questions and generally stand in the way).  A few weeks before, we entered into discussions as to what to brew.  Mick was after something funky and we decided on a gose. Si mentioned it was blackberry season so we ended up with a blackberry gose.  I then mentioned I had some black lava salt so we could use that to carry on the black theme and we could use midnight wheat malt to make it black. So a black blackberry gose made with black lava salt it is!

Si was determined to forage for the blackberries, however, he failed.  He turned up to brewday late and empty handed with a hangover.  Mick to the rescue, he foraged for blackberries in our nearest Morrisons and bought a bottle of Westbrook’s Mexican Chocolate Cake with him.  Gold star for Mick.

Grain bill

2.0kg wheat malt
1.2kg German Pilsner malt
900g acidulated malt
400g Midnight Wheat
15g Hallertauer hops at 60 mins
28g ground coriander seeds at 10 mins
20g sea salt at 10 mins
2kg Blackberries at 10mins

We mashed in at 65°C all of the grain apart from the acid malt and midnight wheat malt.  We mashed those in after 1 hour for a 45 min period. Was great to watch the wort change from pale to black.
During the boil we added the blackberries and the blackness disappeared. Should have guessed this really, you add 2kg of blackberries and it’s going purple whether you like it or not.  The addition of midnight wheat was pointless.  I let it ferment with WLP029 kolsch yeast for a few weeks.  Initial fermentation was very vigorous, I awoke to find the airlock had blown off across the kitchen and the beer had fermented all over my floor.  I had to put in my first blow off tube system in 5 years.  I moved it into secondary on a further kilogram of blackberries. After 2 days I bottled it and the colour has much improved.  Before the secondary it was quite wishy washy but now it is a definite purple. It’s come out a bit strong for a gose at 6% but I assume this is down to all the blackberries and I should have accounted for that in my grain bill. I tasted it before bottling and there was a definite blackberry taste with a yoghurty creaminess. 

After a week I noticed there was a pellicle forming in the bottles. Uh oh, in to the cold shed with you!  Not sure if the lacto was eating all the fruit sugars or if aceto was forming but they are lively buggers and it took a week for the pellicle to drop out. It smells and tastes very yoghurty and is cloudy as hell so I’m keeping this out in the shed for now.  I probably should have waited a bit longer before I bottled it for the fruit sugars to ferment out.  Lessons learned.

Got a few brewdays coming up.  I’m experimenting with a chocolate milk stout made with goats lactose instead of cows lactose as I’m sensitive to it.  Also brewing a strong dark Belgian ale which I’m going to pitch the Chorlton HS2 brett strain in the secondary.

Saisons in the Abyss has been bottled since September now, it’s tasting very winey. I’m incredibly pleased with it. I can’t wait to experiment more with sours.

Pellicle from Saisons in the Abyss

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