Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bourbon Brett Cherry Dark Belgian

This is one of those recipes that helps you to pick out beer nerds they will start salivating merely the description of a Belgian Quad with Brett, cherries and bourbon. This is based on Pizza Port/Lost Abbey's Cuvee Tomme, again another clone attempt for a beer I have never had the pleasure to try. A full tasting should be coming soon.

Cherry Funk

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 4.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.45
Anticipated OG: 1.095
Anticipated SRM: 27.0
Anticipated IBU: 29.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 77 %
Wort Boil Time: 150 Minutes

5.00 lbs. Pilsener
3.00 lbs. Munich Malt
2.00 lbs. Maris Otter
1.14 lbs. Dark Candi Sugar Syrup
0.75 lbs. Muscavado
0.56 lbs. Aromatic Malt
0.56 lbs. CaraMunich Malt
0.19 lbs. Dark Soft Candi Sugar
0.13 lbs. Chocolate Malt
0.13 lbs. BLAM Caramel

1.50 oz EKG @ 120 min.
.50 oz Czech Saaz @ 15 min.

6 lbs Sweet Cherries for 48 Days
.5 oz Medium Charred oak soaked in Elijah Craig Bourbon for 210 Days

White Labs WLP530 Abbey Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Wayland

Calcium(Ca): 31.0 ppm
Magnesium(Mg): 6.2 ppm
Sodium(Na): 20.0 ppm
Sulfate(SO4): 36.0 ppm
Chloride(Cl): 25.0 ppm
biCarbonate(HCO3): 61.5 ppm

pH: 7.00

Mash Schedule
45 minutes @ 154

Brewed 8/5/06 by myself.

The base is a retry at my recipe for Ambree 7, but darker and stronger. A chunk will be separated after primary and treated to mimic Cuvee Tomme.

Fly sparge collected 6.5 gallons of 1.068 runnings. Final runnings 1.020. Long boil to remove the excess liquid. Sugar dissolved in the kettle during the sparge.

Base Malts: 74.4% of fermentables
Total sugar: 16.4%
Specialty: 9.8%

Approximately 11 month old hops adjusted down to 5.5% AA from 6.5%

Washed second generation yeast from sugar experiment that got a bit of boiled wort into it to get the yeast going.

Chiller broke and sprayed some water into chilling beer. Gravity slightly undershot because of added volume. Pitched at about 70, put into 60 degree fridge.

Not much activity the next morning, so I turned up the fridge to 64 and gave it a shake, within a few hours full krausen was reached. Fridge dropped to 62. The following day there was some overflow, so I added a blowoff tube.

At about 48 hours I took the fermenter out of the fridge into a 75 degree ambient room. Hopefully this will boost attenuation and increase ester formation. Krausen subsiding so I put on an airlock. By the next day bubbling had slowed to a bubble every three seconds or so and the temp read 75 on the fermenter strip. 72 hours after pitching the gravity is down to 1.041 (57% AA) another 15-20 or so points to drop still. The temperature fell to 70 over the next 2 days, but bubbling continued slowly.

8/10/06 1 pint starter made with half a tube of Brett C and the dregs of an Orval bottle.

8/14/06 Still a small krausen, the gravity is down to 1.033 (65% AA) and looks to be about done changing. Good thing there is brett and some cherries going into most of this one, its way to sweet for a Belgian... but otherwise tastes good. Nice pellicle forming on top of the starter.

8/24/06 1.024 (75.5% AA) Glad it kept dropping, transferred to secondary for a bit of conditioning before I divide and add the brett.

8/27/06 Took the 1 oz of medium toast French oak beans that had been soaking in bourbon and charred it with a blowtorch for a few minutes to replicate the char of bourbon wood, then topped off with fresh Elijah Craig.

9/06/06 Transferred to a 3 gallon glass carboy with the funky starter, 1/2 gallon left over went into the fridge at 38 degrees.

9/10/06 Bottled the Brune 10, 2 small bottles 1 big. 1/2 tsp sugar per small bottle, 1 tsp for the big.

9/11/06 Put frozen cherries into better carboy to thaw after 3 hours I racked the beer on top and added 8 cubes of the bourbon oak. I can always add more wood in tertiary if the flavor doesn't come through.

9/13/06 Tried one of the bottles of the straight brune 10, I really disliked it harsh bitter coffee flavor. Should improve greatly with age and the other flavor agents.

10/29/06 Transferred off cherries to 3 gallon fermenter with fresh bourbon oak, apparently I filled it up too high because when the Brett fermentation kicked off there was a bit of overflow.

5/19/07 Bottled with 1/4 cup white sugar. Yielded about 3 gallons. Tastes pretty smooth (with some rubbery note, not sure if it is the Orval dregs or the high fill next to the rubber stopper). Might take awhile to carbonate since I didn't add extra yeast as I originally planned.

7/06/07 Fully carbonated and very nice. Particularly after it warms up the cherries and dark fruit really balance out the funkiness. Final gravity is around 1.010. Ruby red color.

10/01/07 1st Tasting


Anonymous said...

Liked the Basic Brewing casts, thanks for sharing on there. This beer sounds phenomenal.

I had a question: in one of the shows, you mentioned a dark mild that you brewed in the same day using the same fermenter (?) ended up with some Brett qualities to it. I recall Vinnie's NHC presentation suggesting to just use two lines of equipment, one for Brett beers & one for un-Brettified beers.

I was wondering if that fermenter the mild was in was plastic or glass, and if you've had any issue reusing glass bottles that held a Brett beer retaining Brett bugs. I'd hate to do a batch, bottle, reuse the bottles on a Belgian Dark Strong of FG 1.025 and have Brett bugs explode the bottles. Just wondering- i could always throw out the bottles, but was interested if you'd experienced issues.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Glad you enjoyed the podcast, not only does James do a great job with those podcasts, but he is also a really nice guy. He is sending me some of the infected wood chips that Vinnie passed out at the NHC so I can have yet another set of bugs to play with.

The fermenter in question was a relatively young 6 gallon plastic Better Bottle (but for all I know the infection came from some other piece of equipment). In the past year I have brewed 10 batches using Brett and lactic acid bacteria and about 12 without. I have used the same set of equipment on all of those batches (fermenters, racking cane, tubing, bottle filler, etc…) and the same pool of bottles, and in that time the mild was the only one that has gone funky on me.

It all depends how anal you are with your cleaning and sanitizing and what your tolerance for risk is. I “double sanitize” everything, that is to say that I clean and sanitize everything both before and after every use, regardless of what the beer I am using it for. Living in a small apartment, I simply don’t have the room for 2 sets of post-chill equipment so this is an acceptable risk for me.

For bottles I rinse after use, then before I use them they get an extended soak in hot tap water and oxyclean, followed by at least 30 minutes submerged in Star-San. I used to use Iodophor which is a good product, but Star-San has the ability to kill even in the presence of organic deposits, which in my opinion makes it a better choice for a funky-beer-brewer. So far I have not had any single bottle infections so it seems to be working well.

Just remember there is naturally occurring wild yeast and bacteria all over the place (especially if you have other things fermenting like me), so just because you bring some into your brewery doesn’t mean that it changes things all that much.

Anonymous said...

Hey Mike, thanks for the blog - I love it! I just recently finished adding cherries and Orval dregs to a dark belgian of mine that refuses to reach terminal gravity (it's at 1.02 now) and realized that this is not all that different from you've made here. I'm really psyched about this (first 'wild' bugs used) and it's really thanx to your blog that I'm mustering up the guts to try something like this!

Once again, thx!
/Lars (Sweden)

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds very cool, good luck with your batch. Just give it plenty of time in the fermenter and in the bottle, every time I open a bottle of mine it has become smoother and more complex than it was the previous time.

I am planning on brewing another version of this recipe next summer once sour cherries are close to being in season.


Unknown said...

I could probably score you a bottle if you still haven't had the real Cuvee de Tomme

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Thanks for the offer, but I have gotten the chance to try Cuvee Tomme a couple times since I brewed this beer. It certainly has more sourness than mine, but I hope to remedy that when I brew it again in a couple weeks (this time with sour cherries and more bugs).

Andrei said...

Mike, do you pit the cherries before freezing them or not? Also, do you age your sour/wild beers in Better Bottles or glass carboys?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I took the stems off, but I left the pits in. With extended contact they provide a nice woody/almond character to the beer and some additional dryness. Some people actually add mahleb (cherry pits) when just using cherry juice/concentrate to add this character.

Andrei said...

I've made a starter from dregs of 2 bottles of Orval, I can see the yeast growth and some fermentation, but it is yet to start growing a pellicle (4-5 days later). Should I wait until it does or just pitch it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

No reason to wait, I'd just pitch the starter in. Growing a pellicle is just a sign that there is air in the head space, it can take weeks/months to form and sometime it doesn't happen at all.

Nick said...

Hi Mike. Love your website. You have a wealth of info here for a sour beer brewer.

I have brewed a 5gal batch following this recipe and am getting ready to add the cherries and bugs in secondary. Did you ever get around to brewing a 2nd version of this? If so, what did you do differently and how was the resulting beer?

I'm thinking I might put 3gal on cherries with Brett C + Orval dregs and do something different with the other 2gal like add Brett L and/or something with some Lacto in it. Any suggestions?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I've done a number of dark sour beers with cherries, but none of them were explicit follow-ups to this one.

These days I usually pitch all of the microbes together in primary, and wait until the beer is 2-3 months from bottling to put it onto the fruit. That way you get the brightest possible fruit flavor.

Commercial Lacto probably won't do much in such a big beer, but if you pitch dregs from a few bottles of sour beers odds are something will.

Best of luck, and let me know how it turns out!

Anonymous said...

I brewed a beer 14 months ago that is nearly identical to this, with just a slightly higher OG, candi syrup and brew like a monk caramel. Even with brett added the gravity has been at 1.018 for the last 9 months or so.

I read your post on the ability of brett to ferment caramel as well and was wondering if the brett just gave up. Beer is 11% alcohol right now. Think it's safe to bottle with some champagne yeast or wine yeast with the gravity where it is? Like I said, brew day was early in Oct 2011.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

With that long of a history of stable readings, I'd bet you'd be fine to bottle now! Some of our big sours have finished around 1.016. All depends on what microbes you've got in there. The caramel will keep the residual fermentables up as well. Enjoy!

Unknown said...

I was going to rack to a rye whiskey barrel and sit on cherries for 6 months while I'm in Holland. Is it too long on the cherries?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Six months on cherries won't cause any off flavors. I tend to do less time on fruit these days just to get it bottled and ready to drink before the fruit character begins to fade. Hope it's worth the wait. Safe travels!

Stephen said...

What is BLAM caramel? I haven't been able to find any info on it on the web

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Caramel as described in Brew Like a Monk (corn syrup with DAP added during heating). Not very fermentable, and probably not necessary if you don't want to make it.

Nick said...

Hi Mike. I bought your book and was just listening to the first episode of The Sour Hour. Great work all around. You have been a great help to me and (I'm sure) many other sour beer homebrewers, so thank you for that.

This batch that I posted about above back in 2012 eventually turned into a wonderful dark sour beer with lots of mellow tartness and stone fruit/cherry character, so I am working on a second attempt.

This time around I started with 5 gallons of a german style wheat beer that had already gone through primary fermentation and added enough dark candi sugar and Crystal 120 along with a pack of Roselare and the dregs from a bottle of The Bruey Oude Tart.

After 9 months of souring, I tasted the beer and it has very little sour or tart character. I recently added 1/2 a vial of White Labs Flemish Ale blend in the hopes that it would help, but I suspect that is redundant strains to the Roselare. I was thinking I could add some maltodextrine along with some L Brevis to really try to boost the tartness to the point where it'd be ready to add fruit, but I was wondering if you had any other ideas?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

What is the gravity now? If it is pretty low, feeding it with maltodextrin or go ahead with the fruit (which adds its own acids in addition to sugar) would be the best option. If there is still plenty of sugar left already, you need some new microbes (something with Pedio would be best at this stage).

Nick said...

Measured by refractometer and got about 1.036. That seems like it might still have a ways to go. What do you think?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Are you correcting for the OG/ABV? I honestly don't know how lactic acid changes refractometer readings, I'd pull a hydrometer sample to be sure...

Nick said...

Huh. I didn't know that was a thing. I looked up how to correct for ABV and with that correction factored in, I get 1.017.