Sour Experiment

Fresh off bottling our latest batch of cyser, we brewed another batch of saison on Labor Day.  This is happily burbling away in the pantry right now — burbling a little too happily, in fact.  It gunked up the airlock, so I replaced it with a blowout tube feeding into a gallon growler.  But then that blew out and got yeast gunk all over the floor and our shopping bags

Anyway, we’re using the same grain bill we’ve used for saison in the past (Pilsner base, Munich/Vienna for a little color, and some candi sugar), an ounce of leftover low-alpha hops from our IPA, and our go-to Belgian yeast (WLP 530, supposedly from Westmalle just like Achel and Westvleteren use).

The boil was pretty much the same, except for omitting flavor and aroma hops entirely.  I did try one change on wort chilling (having ready several forum posts saying you could just rack to a plastic fermenting bucket and wait a day for it to drop to yeast pitching temp): I skipped the usual wort chiller and tried just racking through an ice bath:

Alas, it only cooled the wort by 5° or so, so hardly worth it.  Maybe if I had a coil…

The plan is to split the batch into five 1-gallon growlers and try a few different souring agents.  We’ve tried a few of these before — the first time we brewed saison, did three different Bretts (Bruxellensis, Lambicus and Claussenii), plus White Labs’ sour mix (which includes Brett, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus).  We definitely got different kinds of funkiness, but nothing like sour.  Turns out, we just need to wait longer.  Years longer.  So the plan is to try more aggressive souring agents (like Lactobacillus culture) and add some honeycombed oak planks to help the bugs grow.  Then we’ll just park the gallon growlers somewhere out of the way and wait for something sour to happen.  We’ve bottled almost all of our batches this year, and we’re tired of it.  So I think we’re going to be happy to leave those growlers souring for a year or two, and get back to making full batches and kegging them.

Speaking of waiting a while, our next batch will be our 18th, and our 18th anniversary is coming up next April, so we were thinking about brewing something we could leave fermenting until then.  We know lots of beers that benefit from years of aging, but we’re still thinking about what would like 6 months.  We thought about brewing a stout, but couldn’t agree on a recipe (she likes dry stout, I like sweet).  Maybe a Tripel?

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3 Responses to Sour Experiment

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