Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Right Proper-Inspired: Hoppy Sour Beer

One of the wonderful things about the skyrocketing count of American breweries, is that more can be specialists! Most areas no longer need another local brewery that focuses on pale ales or blondes for gateway drinkers. The key will be thinking like a restaurant, rather than a manufacturer. If we can support 600,000 restaurants, I see no reason we couldn’t support 1% as many breweries, but it’ll require finding niches, focusing on local (direct sales), and differentiation.

My long-time friend and co-conspirator Nathan Zeender (now the head brewer at Right Proper) has done a fantastic job of just this! They brew beers that few others brews (e.g., Ornette/Ornithology a sub-4% ABV saison, The Lubitsch Touch a smoked pale lager, and Baron Corvo a mixed-fermentation foeder biere de garde), and are having wonderful results! That isn't to suggest they are catering only to beer nerds; walk into the Shaw brewpub on a Friday or Saturday night and you won't see many people checking into Untappd. The response has been so good that they opened a production facility and tasting room in Brookland earlier this year. They’ve carried many of the same beers forward, meaning that they are available at bars and restaurants in DC and now Montgomery county, MD.

Nathan venerating Russian River, De Garde, and Alu on his foeder

The series of beers that seem to have received the most attention from beer nerds are their quick sours. Rather than sour mashing or kettle souring, Nathan and Chris have developed their own house souring culture. It evolved from BSI's Lacto, and I think there were some other cultures added over the last few years. The key they learned was to skip kettle hopping. They pitch the culture at 110F and allow it to cool naturally. Nothing else is pitched, so there is yeast in the culture, but it must be heat tolerant given the clean flavors of beers like Kick Kick Snare and Diamonds, Fur Coats, Champagne. While it is quick, the process doesn't require the amount of time and resources that heating and cooling a beer twice (before and after souring). Nathan also prefers the method as it avoids committing "genocide on millions and millions of healthy Lactobacillus." Listen to a visit with Nathan on Basic Brewing Radio.

Quinoa overcooked, ready for the mash!Nathan was kind enough to pull a sample of the culture into a sanitized growler for me so that Alex and I, in a rare non-funky-dark-saison collaboration, could run it at home. We added 5% quinoa to the mash for extra protein - inspired by a few beers I've tried from Scott Janish. The local co-op didn't have flaked, so I went with standard which requires pre-boiling to gelatinize its starch. Otherwise a quick brew day with such a warm pitching temperature.

After fermentation, I dry hopped with a couple ounces of 007: The Golden Hop (a new hop variety). You’ll be seeing more new and experimental hop beers from me over the next few months thanks to a box of lesser known and unnamed varietals from Yakima Valley Hops. I finished off this beer with 24 hours on strips of grapefruit zest (removed with a vegetable peeler and then scraped with a spoon to remove the pith) the day before kegging. This was a somewhat twisted version of our collaborative Kodachrome Dream(ing), which has citrus zest and tropical hops (Citra and Galaxy) added at the end of the boil, and fermentation with their funkier farmhouse culture.

I recently submitted a feature article on hoppy sour beers to Brew Your Own (subscribe to support the blog). The last two issues this year will have a total of four articles from me including an update on Brettanomyces post-American Sour Beers, and Advanced Brewing articles about dehusked roasted malts and brewer's yeast fermentation in a low pH environment!

Strips of grapefruit peel, pith removed.With Pulp

Smell – Zesty grapefruit leads, but it has fallen off in the weeks since tapping. Behind that is the 007 hops: black tea and stone fruit (pretty much as advertised). Tangy yogurt Lactobacillus. No funk, no strong yeast character.

Appearance – Nice head retention for a 4% Lacto beer, leaving some lacing. Hazy peach body, likely thanks to all the wheat and quinoa.

Taste – Flavor is more herbal (almost a bit like Vermouth) than the nose, but the finish is pulpy grapefruit juice. Snappy acidity, easy bitterness, no sweetness. I could clearly smell the quinoa in the wort, but it is buried under all the intense aromatics at this point.

Mouthfeel – Airy without being thin. The is a beer that has a lot of bold flavors, and the base supports them. The finish is slightly seltzer. The quinoa helped I’m sure, but not a major shift in perception at 5%.

Drinkability & Notes – A bright, tangy, refreshing, citrusy beer. Really impressed with the Right Proper culture at home, it was quick, clean, and easy! You could likely get something similar by mixing Omega's Lacto Blend and HotHead Ale. The 007 did well with grapefruit, doesn’t seem like a hop that you want on its own out front, but adds herbal and complimentary fruity depth to what could have been a juice-bomb.

Changes for Next Time – Not much to change on this one, pretty close to what I was aiming for. I had considered adding some hibiscus, and I might next time with a more citrusy hop variety!

A glass of the finished hoppy/sour/citrus beer!

With Pulp

Boil Time: 60 min
End of Boil Vol: 6 gal
Final Bottling Vol: 5 gal
OG: 1.041
Efficiency: 82%
SRM: 2.6
IBUs: 0
FG: 1.008
ABV: 4.3%

42.9% - 3.4 lbs Briess Pilsen
42.9% - 3.4 lbs Great Western White Wheat Malt
9.5% - .75 lbs Quinoa
4.8% - .38 lbs Briess Carapils

Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 150F

2.00 oz 007: The Golden Hop (Pellets, 10.20 % AA) @ Dry Hop

3 Grapefruit Peels @ 1 day before kegging

Recipe above scaled from a 15 gallon batch to reflect this beer being tasted.

Brewed 7/17/16 with Alex

Boiled quinoa with 2 qrts of water for 25 minutes. Mixed into mash after the grain.

6 g of CaCl, filtered DC tap, .5 tbls of 88% lactic acid. Mash pH measured at 5.33.

Sparged with 1.5 gallons of cold filtered DC tap water. Collected 8 gallons at 1.041. Added .75 gallons of filtered tap water post-boil to dilute the gravity back to 1.041. No hops.

Chilled to 100F and pitched 1/3 cup of thick house Lacto culture from Right Proper. Left at 85F to ferment.

Same wort - Racked 3 gallons into 1 gallon jugs and pitched several kveik strains.

7/22/16 Moved to the basement to finish out, fermentation seems complete.

7/24/16 Added 2 oz of 007 pellets to primary.

8/2/16 Added the peels (vegetable peeler then pith scraped with a spoon) to the primary.

8/3/16 Kegged.


Micha said...

How does this work w.r.t. oxygen? Isn't there a high risk of developing a puke beer using these short mixed fermentation?


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Lactobacillus is an aerotolerant anaerobe, meaning it doesn't require oxygen, but isn't negatively affected by it either (unlike Pediococcus). All the focus on preventing oxygen contact when sour mashing or kettle souring with a grain-based inoculation is because of all of the nasty microbes that are being introduced that require oxygen. By limiting oxygen contact you are selectively boosting the Lacto over undesired aerobic microbes. When using pure Lacto cultures oxygen really isn't a major concern. In this case the Sacch will consume the oxygen quickly during its growth phase anyway.

Craig Cousineau said...

So far I've had very good luck getting clean tartness with this sour wort method. After collecting wort (I've usually done mash hopping to ~5 IBU) I pasteurize it for 10 min at 180F, then chill down to about 100F and pitch my lacto culture that I've been feeding for a few years. It's wyeast 5335, which at first I wasn't impressed by, but over time it's gotten stronger and only takes a few days to get nice sourness going. Once it's where I want it I pitch ale yeast, then depending on the beer Brett gets added after that, etc.

Shawn said...

Looks really tasty, Mike. I like the idea of using strips of peel in a beer, instead of the zest... at least, for certain beers. Is it pretty comparable, in your experience, weight for weight?

Michael Grob said...

Is it not necessary then with this method to add lactic acid prior to lacto inoculation like you would with kettle souring? Even if you are say letting a pure lacto culture do its thing in the fermentor and then adding ale yeast later once proper sourness is achieved?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I find I get considerably more citrus character with a vegetable peeler than a Microplane. Not sure if the zester doesn't get deep enough, or if it sprays the oils out.

Lowering the pH of the wort with lactic acid reduces protein degradation (one reason the head and body were pretty good on this batch). It isn't necessary, but I think it improves beers like this.

Trevor Fisher said...

Not nearly enough zest.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Haha, you'd know!

Mathieu Huygens said...

It seems very tasty :) If I try to pitch my standard yeast (US05) along with the lacto at 100F it should kill it right? what would be the best timing? Cheers!

James said...

This is actually some what similar to how I produce my sours. I just have a house bug culture that I've developed over the years that does the souring for me. I mash low around 146-144F range, but I tend to add hops during the boil, only as a way to prevent my bugs from souring too quickly (and because I'm lazy). I usually have a nice clean lacto sour beer with some brett around the edges in about a month.

Bubba Frank said...

Mathieu Huygens, yeah you'll either kill it or have terrible tasting beer (as US05 would produce awful characters at that high of temps) pitch the lacto and then let it naturally come down to about normal pitching temp in a day or two then pitch a healthy dose of US05 (probably two packs in a 5 gallon batch depending on the gravity as the acidity is hard on the yeast). Or do as Mike suggests and choose a yeast that doesn't mind suuper hot temps. (A more accessable yeast you could try would be a Belgian saison yeast I guess, but still 100F is even too hot for it)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

100F likely isn't enough to kill US05 (many dry yeast manufacturers suggest rehydrating around that temperature. However, as Bubba suggests the fermentation profile at that elevated temperature would likely be a messy of fusel alcohol, esters, and other off-flavors.

There are many combinations of microbes, time, and temperature that work. In general I'd be hesitant to use the process from a brewery without their microbes.

I've had good luck pitching Omega Lacto Blend into unhopped wort and following it with yeast 24-48 hours later (with or without pasteurization). The only risk there is you need acid tolerance in the yeast (I've got an article on that coming up in BYO later this year!)

Mathieu Huygens said...

Thanks a lot guys that was very helpful! cheers

Brian van Stokkum said...

If you were going to select a commercial yeast strain to add in with lacto so you can be lazy and pitch all at once, are there any particular ones that would be worth experimenting with?

Belle Saision, Belgian Saison (Wy3724) both list working temps in to the low end of lacto but I have no idea how they would react being pitched at those temps.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

As I noted in the post, Omega HotHead would be what I would be the only commercial Sacch I would consider pushing this warm. For other strains, I'd stagger the pitch (Lacto warm and then Sacch after it cools/sours for 12-24 hours). Right Proper's culture doesn't have a saison character.

Craig Cousineau said...

The yeast bay's 'Sigmund's voss kviek' can also be successfully brought to very high temps without off flavors.

Kara said...

I am in the process of brewing a Berliner Weisse that I plan to divide up into 5 1-gallon jugs and dry hop each with a different type of hops. I have typically been souring my beers by pitching Lacto alone and letting run for a week before pitching the yeast. It's been working well to sour up the beer quickly. However, this current batch, despite getting good activity for a few days, didn't sour. I pitched the yeast anyhow, but then threw in another vial of Lacto brevis after another few days for the heck of it. Still nothing after about 5 days. Do you have any advice on getting this to sour? Just give it more time? Add lactic acid? The OG was 1.038 and is now 1.02. For more info, check out my blog: https://sourpusshomebrewing.wordpress.com/2016/09/20/hmm-berliner-weisse-3-1/
Thanks for your time!!

Jake Claro said...

I know you've covered dry-hopping techniques with other beers, but for this did you add the pellets direct to primary or use mesh bag/marbles and/or remove them prior to kegging?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Kara, I've had pretty good luck with White Labs L. brevis. If by "good activity" you mean that there was CO2 production, there may have been some yeast in your vial or starter. Could be too much hop (even at that tiny amount) for the Lacto, I've gone to leaving them out completely. As for what to do now... you can try dosing in lactic acid to a sample and see if the flavor is good to your palate (with the dry hops it may work)!

I added the hops loose/directly to the primary fermentor. Either way would work though!

Kara said...

Awesome, thanks for the advice! I'll give that a shot!

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