A few months ago, I found myself with some old light malt extract, about 200g worth, and some sour yeast I had been gradually building up from the first sour in a conical flask on my desk. I also had a Growler courtesy of Dave, who had brought back a nice DIPA from Aeronaut brewing in the USA. Naturally, all these came together in the for of a sour beer, which turned out to be deliciously light and refreshing. Unfortunately, I didn’t bother to write down any real details of the light sour recipe, rather it existed as an ephemeral idea in the back of my head; low on hops, high on bugs, sufficiently light to quench your thirst on long hot Sydney summer.
To recreate the deliciousness is the goal with this brew, which is a full batch. I’m also taking account of a lesson learned from the earlier sour beer, which while delicious, has a really strong acetic acid tone. This is the result of the beer undergoing its primary fermentation in a plastic bucket, ostensibly to mirror the porousness of the wooden barrels normally used for sours in Belgium. While tasty, the acetic acid is too much of quaffing many at a time, so for this brew, it will go directly into the demijohns. I’ll leave the top open, with just a foil cover, so there will still be a little interaction with the air. However, once the bugs form a proper pellicle, it should be pretty well sealed up.
1.7kg of Ultra Light Malt exact
10g of Ella Hops at 30mins
60 minute boil
It’s a nice short list. I went and made nearly 13L, since I want it to be nice and light, but ended leaving the dregs, so I have about 12L fermenting. The main ingredient is the house yeast culture I’ve kept going on honey for a few months now, which is a mix of a nice bread-y smell, mixed with some good sour notes. As per usual, I was fairly lax with how well measured everything is, despite wanting to emulate something (although I only had an approximate idea of how I got that something). The night before, I (with some help) consumed a few more sours, and we added the little bit of caked yeast in the bottom to the yeast starter.
It’s now 1 week into fermentation, and I’ve had a good smell of one of the fermenters, and it smells about right (at least to my recollection). Naturally, because it is a sour, I’ll have to leave it a bit longer than I normally would, so the bugs can turn the beer into a sour George Clinton album. All that remains is to work out a name.
Update on the soured IPA:
So it isn’t all that sour. The beer itself isn’t sour at all (or if it is, it is concealed entirely by its big IPA qualities – maybe that’s why Americans love them – you can hide anything with hops). Strangely enough, the head is quite sour. Noticeably so. Aside from the sourness, the experiment with the CaSO4 was a success, as the Hops notes are really obvious in the Fermenter 1 batch. Not quite the feral hop hog, but a definite improvement. That being said, I doubt I’ll try an IPA again anytime soon – I think yeasts are the much more interesting story, and lets face it – the only excuse for tying up a fermenter for more than a month is a sour.
On a side note, the yeast, the famed vermont strain seems to have been a failure in terms of the fruit salad story. It seemed to just be bread-y, with no real fruitiness at all. Or maybe I’ve just been smelling brett and saison yeasts for too long…