The tower of sour…

Having had a few weeks in the bucket to ferment, my dearly beloved hard as fuck IPA was ready for a few more weeks without the copious hop dregs sitting at the bottom. All looked well, with a delicious hoppy aroma when I cracked the top of the fermenter. All that remained was to move said IPA to the glass demijohns where my sour had been quietly turning delicious. This proved to be an opportunity for both the bottling of the Sour, and the second stage of fermentation for the IPA. All of this reminded me that I hadn’t provided a post for our successful souring, so I’ll go over that first.

The Sour: First, the sour. This sour brew was actually my first attempt at steeping of grain, the idea to give it a bit more body than the normal extract brews I do. Since the sour chews up much more of sugar, the steeped grains should add a bit more malty umph, and stop it being nasty and watery. I used a 250g pack of caramel malt from the Hop and Grain for this, and steeped it using muslin cloth at 65-70C, before running through the boil normally. For the hops I used some left over Ella (10g) early on in the boil. I didn’t want a hoppy beer, just something to balance out the malts. Finally, I used a light malt extract for the main body of the beer. To this I also added 200g of Sugar, to ramp up the percentage. The boil was for 60 minutes.

Where this all gets interesting is in the yeast. Because our last attempt at souring up a beer failed because the lactobacillus died when the IBU was a bit too high, I decided to go with several different strains, to guarantee some sourness (because when you crave sour, nothing else suffices). I went with the yeast bays amalgamation blend, which has 6 different types of Brett.

The first 4 weeks I went with a bucket fermentation. My motivation here was to replicate a feature of fermentation in oak barrels by using the slightly porous plastic bucket. The result of this experiment was quite disgusting!

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This is the pellicle, which the brett forms to stop oxygen reaching the beer. Eventually, it collapsed and sank into the fermenter, and a few days after this, I switched the sour to the demijohns for some extended souring and maturing, for about 2-3months.

The resulting brew was initially disappointing, with a harsh and not particularly nice flavour on the back of the palate. However, a few more weeks of the brett doing its funky thing, and it had become really quite delicious, with a really big acetic acid quality, and some wonderfully fruity elements.

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Of course,  this isn’t the end of the illustrious tale of the sour beer. It had a final trick to play!

The (sour) IPA: So having switch the IPA into the demijohn and bottled my beer, a few weeks passed and I noticed the tell tail signs of a pellicle forming! It turns out that sour really is the gift that keep on giving. The IPA still needs a few more weeks before it’ll be ready in its bottles, but who knows, we might have a seriously funky brew on our hands….

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