Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Imperial Sourdough Neo-Kvass: 1st Tasting

Here is the first tasting of my Imperial Sourdough Neo-Kvass. I should have done it sooner than 6 weeks after bottling, but for the first month or so after bottling they tasted nearly identical. The sourdough version is on the left, the control (fermented with bread yeast) is on the right. If you want to compare the flavors in this tasting to my first batch of Kvass, here are the tasting notes for it.

Bread Yeast Kvass

– Murky orange brown, with a small white head. I imagine this is how most beers looked before the industrial revolution, (poor flocculating yeast, darker/poorly modified malt, etc...)

– Prominent toasty/bready, with a secondary fruitiness (pear/cantaloupe). There is also a creaminess too it that is very interesting, much like a milk/cream stout.

– Mild toasted flavor with a light tartness. There is just a hint of coffee grounds in the finish. Just barely enough hops to counter the light residual sweetness.

– Medium/light body with moderate carbonation, it might be a little better with a milder carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes
– I think toasting fresh bread makes for a better Kvass than the stale bread I used the first time, and on this scale it wasn't that much more effort. It is a very drinkable and refreshing beer, certainly proof that low gravity beers can be loaded with interesting flavors.

Sourdough Kvass

– The beer looks nearly identical to its “clean” brother, but the bugs clearly have been at work giving it noticeably greater carbonation which leads to better head retention.

– More doughy rather bready/toasty. If anything the yeast character is more subdued than the other one, it does not have much in the way of fruitiness. A very light minerally/metallic aroma comes out as it warms, reminiscent of iron.

– Certainly more lactic tartness than the clean version, but the sourness is still pretty subdued. The malt character is more assertive than in the nose, here the toast comes out. It does not taste metallic.

– A bit lighter in the mouth and spritzier than the bread yeast version, but not to the point of over-carbonation.

Drinkability & Notes
– After a month in the bottle these two beers were practically indistinguishable, now the sourdough character is starting to show itself. I am amazed by how truly little distinct character I have gotten from pitching a sourdough starter into a batch of beer. It may be that if I tried this again with the same starter I would get much different results because it is getting more of a sour character as time goes on. Certainly proof that it is possible to make a drinkable beer with a sourdough starter as I have heard some American settlers did in the mid-1800s.


Anonymous said...

I think you're right about needing more time to get more sourness with your sourdough starter. I made my own starter and it took several (5-6)batches of bread to get the nice sourness it has now...I haven't had the guts to make beer with it yet but you're encouraging me. Have you considered using any mint in your kvass its traditional to my (limited) understanding. I have a recipe (which I haven't tried) which uses it as well as using raisins as carb drops (which is really old school).

By the way I love your blog and am exceedingly jealous of all the brewing you get to do...


Steve said...

I made an attempt at something similar using mint. I soaked half a 3lbs free-form loaf of stale,toasted, homemade, sourdough rye overnight in hot water with a 1/2 cup chopped raisins. Strained out the liquid and used it in a mash (155) of 1 lbs rye malt, 1 lbs 2-row, 1 lbs toasted oatmeal and a 1T rye flour. Hopped lightly (10g willamete) at 30 min and threw in 4g dried mint at 5 min. Cooled to 80s and pitched 1 pint sourdough starter (w/6 months of bread making) and less than 1/8 t bread yeast into 4 gallons. Started at 1.030, ended at 1.008. A little lactic sourness, a little bready, slick mouthfeel, and for sure minty. The combination of lactic-bready-mint and the slick mouthfeel from oats isn't working for me. It is mildly refreshing, but I don't reach for it over anything else in my fridge. Maybe with some lagering,nah.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yeah, the idea of mint and bread never really appealed to me. I did make a tasty mint chocolate stout a few years back with some dried peppermint, but that is a different recipe altogether.

I’ll have to try another batch with my sourdough at some point to see if the more lactic nature will transfer to the beer.