Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Pluot Flanders Pale Ale

Last week I decided to bottle my one year old Flanders Pale Ale (which had been blended 4:1 with my two year old Lambic a month earlier). Like most of my sour beers I decided to bottle half plain and add fruit to the other half. I mulled over several possible options (cherries, blackberries, apples), but in the end decided to go with Pluots (an apricot-plum hybrid). I know a couple homebrewers who have beers fermenting with them, but the only professional brewery playing with them to my knowledge is Russian River in Compunction.

This particular hybrid has pretty pale flesh compared to some others, which suggests to me that it probably has more apricot in it (which will lead to a more acidic finished beer according to Vinnie at Russian River). To get the fruits into the carboy I had to cut them up, so I opted not to freeze them first. I took two pounds of the racquetball sized fruit, and gave them a quick dip in Star-San to make sure there was no bacteria on the skins (the freezing normally makes me comfortable enough to skip this step with smaller fruit). I then quartered them (after giving both the knife and cutting board a dip in sanitizer) and levered out the small pit.
I then put the fruit into a carboy and racked the remaining ~2.3 gallons of beer onto it. I would have preferred a smaller carboy, but I didn't have one on hand and the renewed fermentation should drive out most of the oxygen.

After a few days all of the fruit had floated to the surface and was looking bloated. The beer will sit on the fruit until next summer (on a suggestion from Vinnie, what a generous guy with his knowledge). I'll have a tasting of the fruitless portion in the next few months, really looking forward to it.


Anonymous said...

I was surprised you sanitized the pluots, you're a mad fermentationist but not a crazy one ,eh?
Have you done any truly spontaneous fermentations?
And if so are they somewhere on the blog?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I originally bought Pluots about a month ago, sliced, vacu-packed and froze them. Sadly I forgot to bring these with me when I was on my way up to MA. As a result I didn't have time to freeze them before I used them. I'm pretty sure it would have been fine anyway since the beer was already around 1.004, but I decided to be extra careful.

No true spontaneous fermentations for me so far. Might give it a try once it cools down this fall.

Here is some info on the spontaneously fermented version of Beatification from Russian River: 60% barley, 40% wheat. Multi step mash 120s-130s-140s-high 150s then soured over night. Long boil (3-4 hours) with lots of aged hops and spontaneously fermented in the barrel room.

Anonymous said...

That's interesting they (Rus. Riv.) soured it THEN did a wild ferment. I guess they wanted to ensure a certain bare minimum of sourness & perhaps they knew their barrel room bugs wouldn't do it. Or so I speculate. Though I have to say with my only wild ferment sourness was not a problem-- to say the least.

I'm going to have to see if I can get some of their beer, if they distribute to MN


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

While I certainly don’t know this for a fact, my guess is that he is lowering the pH of the wort so he doesn’t have an issue with enteric/thermo bacteria (these are aggressive microbes that work quickly before the yeast and lactic acid bacteria have a reproduce and start fermenting). Wild Brews talks about many Lambic brewers being forced to artificially lower their pH to stop microbes that the EU considers unacceptable (like E. coli) even though they die once the yeast make a bit of alcohol.

Russian River doesn’t make it off the West Coast these days except for special events/fests (they used to sell in the DC and Philly areas as well, but that stopped a year or so ago). They also used to do direct shipping through their website, but ran into enough legal hurdles to make them stop. Hopefully now that their new brewery is up and running they will begin selling beer further away again.

What was the technique for your wild fermentation? How did it turn out?

Anonymous said...

Of course lowering the PH, that makes sense.

As far as my technique or rather my "technique" for my wild fermentation was from my attempt at a quasi-neolithic style brew. I don't want to overburden this post with detail so suffice it to say it was a bread based brew. To get it going I threw some gooseberries from my backyard into the wort in the carboy.

My results were interesting but not really palatable.
It had real tang to it (which I kind of liked) but it was very thick almost like whole milk. I've been told that the latter is a sign of a pediococcus infection.

I want to try more wild fermentations, but I need to learn more (like the lowering the PH trick) first.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds interesting, sorry to hear it wasn’t up to “modern” taste standards.

Pedio can definitely make a beer very viscous/ropy for a time, but given enough additional time in this “sick” stage it will clean up.

Good luck on your future spontaneous fermentation projects.

Scyrene said...

Aha! You answered my question on a previous post (about contamination from the skins). Great! :)

Nico said...

This looks amazing, you have so many hidden treasures on this blog. How did this turn out?

Also, do you think you would age on the fruit so long if it were a clean beer? Or if it had Brett? I'm brewing an imperial stout on plums, might add brett.

P.S. your book is absurdly wonderful, I received it a few days ago and I can't put it down.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Amazingly, it looks like I never posted tasting notes... sadly the off-character microbes from the lambic I blended in took over both the plain and fruited versions of this one. I actually still have a few bottles left, probably not worth it at this point.

When you add fruit, you just want the gravity to stabilize. Even for a sour, that shouldn't take more than a few months in most cases. For clean beers it will likely be less.

Glad you're enjoying the book!