Thursday, December 11, 2008

Free as in Beer, Belgian Sour Blonde Tasting

Over the last few months Dan McElroy has sent me a couple emails about a Temptation Clone he brewed back in January. I was happy to lend him some advice, and very happy when he suggested that he would send me a bottle to try.

Appearance – Talk about a clear beer, nice orange/gold color. Head formation/retention is a bit weak, although that may be a result of my glass selection (I recently broke my Duvel tulip).

Smell – Classic spicy Belgian aroma upfront, with a beautiful soft floral/honey component. The funk is very subdued, but I certainly get a hint of that cherry pie Brett.

Taste – The spicy phenolics from the aroma carry through in the flavor as well. The funk is more upfront (with just a hint of barnyard), but it isn't really sour/tart. The malt and hops are very subdued, clean letting the yeast/bugs shine through.

Mouthfeel – Medium-light carbonation, a bit lower than I would aim in a pale Belgian like this. More carbonation would also help the head retention. The body is what you'd expect, pretty thin but not unpleasantly so. I get just a hint of astringency, probably from the oak and dryness.

Drinkability & Notes – A very nice attempt at a lightly funky Belgian Blonde, like my Temptation clone a tasty beer but very different from the original. It tastes very authentic (by which I mean understated and balanced), I especially like the yeast character. Drinking it on a dark/cold/wet December night I enjoy it, but this is the sort of beer that would be perfect for a warm spring afternoon.

If anyone else out there wants an honest opinion on their beer (sour or otherwise) let me know.

Sour Blonde

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.00
Anticipated OG: 1.065
Anticipated SRM: 4.1
Anticipated IBU: 31.5
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

11.00 lbs. Pilsen
1.00 lbs. Wheat Malt

1.00 oz. Sterling @ 60 min.
0.50 oz. Styrian Goldings @ 20 min.

White Labs WLP550 Belgian Ale

Mash Schedule
Sacch 60 min @ 150

Pitched Wyeast Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and Brettanomyces Bruxellensis all into secondary after 7 days fermentation with the white labs 550. Secondary lasted 7 months. The last month included about 1 oz Hungarian oak cubes - boiled and then soaked in chardonnay (paranoid about over-oaking this) Primary and secondary fermentation were at ambient basement temps which range from about 62 to 66 degrees.

Bottled 11/01/08

Note to self, try mashing at 154 next time, pull off primary after 5 days to leave more for the bugs. Not a strong sour profile, but there is some Brett there. I can't really find any chardonnay flavors or oak, so perhaps increase both for the next batch and/or skip the boiling of the cubes. Tastes more like an oro de calabaza from Jolly pumpkin, and very drinkable.



Josh B said...

You mention the carbonation being a bit light for what you normally like on this type of beer. How many volumes of CO2 or oz of sugar/gallon do you normally shoot for on beers like this?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

2.5-3, although something like a gueuze can be up close to 4 (although I wouldn't suggest that with "standard" bottles.) Lower carbonation would be fine in a darker/maltier sour ale, but something this light needs some pop.

Proprietors said...

Excited to try this recipe/process and thank you for all the great information.

When you pitched yeast to the secondary, are these full vials of each?

When bottling, are you priming?

Attempting this one tomorrow.

Thanks again!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It isn't my recipe, but I forwarded your questions to Dan (the brewer) to get his answer.

Proprietors said...

Thanks! We are doubling this for a 10 gallon version and using rye malt instead of wheat. Should be nice to see how that plays off the bittering hops. After the boil, half will follow this recipe (somewhat, we are only using brett), the other half will get WL Belgian Golden ale yeast

Dan said...

Hi -

Yes I used a full vial of each for this. I did however brew this again at a friends house and we shortened the primary time to a couple days (3 I think) with a higher mash temp as well(154). Also we used some oak cubes & a little bug slurry that were from this original batch so it will be interesting to see the effects of the lower pitching rate of the bugs and more fermentables left.

I did prime with corn sugar. I think the bottle I sent Mike was a bit flat because it was still pretty fresh (bottled a week before) because the remaining bottles are a bit more carbonated...the bugs work slow.

I am re-brewing this myself, and pitched full vials again, but everything right into primary to try and get the lacto going a bit more.

Good luck!

ryanb said...

I am going to brew this in the coming weeks...I was thinking after 7 months or so I would add raspberries to the secondary, thus making a sour-raspberry blond. How do feel the flavor profile would work with a fruit addition? Let me know when you get a chance and thanks!!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Honestly tough to say, I got to try one bottle of this more than two and a half years ago. Although I think that in general pale base works well with something like raspberries (especially if you go easy on them say .5 lb per gallon since they can easily overpower a beer). Good luck brewing!