Saturday, February 28, 2009

Honey Wheat Flower Sour

Orange Blossom Honey SourWith quite a few sours under my belt I thought it was time to do something really off the beaten path. My idea was to do a beer somewhere between Hanssens Mead the Gueuze, Russian River Temptation, and Southampton Cuvee des Fleurs. That is to say a pale American sour flavored with honey and flowers. Flowers and honey seem like natural companions as honey is nothing more than the concentrated nectar of thousands of flowers (I'm about to start a beekeeping class, so more on insectoid slaves to come).

I started with a base similar to my Flanders Pale, but lower gravity (to allow room for the gravity from the honey). I also included some honey malt to boost the sweet honey aroma of the finished beer, and 6 grams of chamomile for its floral juicy fruit aroma.

I fermented the beer with a slurry made from some 3rd generation 1056 (American Ale yeast) and the dregs from a bottle of New Belgium's (magnum opus) La Folie and my Temptation clone (but the dregs from your favorite unpasteurized sour beers or a pack of Wyeast's Roeselare Blend would work just as well). The dregs got a week in a starter to multiply before the 1056 was added to the mix.

After two weeks fermentation seemed to be about finished, so I added 1.5 lbs of local orange blossom honey to the primary fermenter. According to The Compleat Mead Maker orange blossom honey can be a combination of any citrus honey (it also says that it is a great candidate for mead). I had to give the beer a brief stir to get the honey to dissolve. I may add another .5 lbs of the honey in a couple months to give the bacteria and wild yeast a snack (feeding sour beers seems to help smooth the character faster than age alone).

Once the beer gets close to being ready to bottle I will add more flowers. At this point I am planning on splitting the batch to try a few different things including dried flowers like jasmine, marigold, lavender, and chrysanthemum (I'll leave some as is as well).

Funky Flowers

Recipe Specifics (All-Grain)
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 11.00
Anticipated OG: 1.056
Anticipated SRM: 4.9
Anticipated IBU: 15.9
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65 %
Wort Boil Time: 80 min

5.50 lbs. German Pilsener
3.00 lbs. Wheat Malt
1.50 lbs. Orange Blossom Honey
0.50 lbs. Crystal 10L
0.25 lbs. CaraPils
0.25 lbs. Honey Malt

0.63 oz. Amarillo @ 50 min.

6.00 gm Chamomile @ Flameout
More Flowers to come in secondary

WYeast 1056 American Ale/Chico

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
60 min @ 156

2/01/09 Took the dregs from a bottle of La Folie and Temptation clone and added them to ~3 cups of starter wort. Saw some activity after a few days. 5 days later added a few cups of 1056 slurry from the wee heavy.

Brewed 2/07/09 with Brian and Alex.

Mash pH 5.3 with no adjustments. Collected 6.75 gallons of 1.036 wort.

Added four 100% chamomile tea bags at flame-out. Gravity at pitching ~1.044

2/21/09 Poured 1.5 lbs of orange blossom honey into the primary fermenter and gave it a gentle stir to distribute.

2/28/09 Racked to secondary, already down to 1.012.

3/21/09 Light tartness with some subtle honey/bready flavors. Certainly needs more time, but not unpleasant as it is.

Added 2 oz of 88% lactic acid to the beer to up the acidity.

8/10/09 Update: Racked 3 gallons to tertiary and added 5 of Hungarian House Toast oak cubes. The other 2 gallons were racked onto ~5 lbs of white peaches (sliced and then mashed up a bit with my auto-siphon) from the farmers market. Good fermentation after 12 hours.

10/27/09 Bottled with .4 cups of table sugar. Honey flavor is coming along. No fresh yeast, but it is young enough that it should not have a problem carbonating.

1/06/10 First tasting, of the non-peach half and it is doing well, but could use some more age.

1/07/10 Racked the peach portion off the peaches to let it clear up a bit before bottling.

4/24/10 Bottled peach half with 2 oz of cane sugar.  Aiming for medium-high carbonation.

7/8/10 First tasting of the peach half, nice big peach flavor, honey comes through slightly.

6/15/11 Tasting comparing this to the other peach beer I brewed, the white peaches still stand up well.


Ryan said...

I was under the impression that you were using rose or some other fresh flowers in this

I plan on picking orange/lime blossoms here in PHX when they open up, maybe you could do something similar with local fruit trees, it might be a nice addition to the aroma, and an interesting source of bugs!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I was thinking of using some fresh flowers from a florist, but from what it sounded like there wasn't much chance that I'd be able to find "food grade" flowers. I

'll certainly keep my eyes open this spring, I wonder how the DC cherry blossoms taste?

Unknown said...

This sounds like an interesting idea. Can't wait to hear how it turns out. Next time I hit a big city I'm going to have to pickup some beers to scavange the dregs from, slim pickings around here.

I found a list of edible flowers here:

Maybe there is something on it that would work out.

Adrian said...

Thoughts on the head retention. The combination of the honey and that volume of flower heads might well introduce a lot of small amounts of pollen into the drink. The haze you're seeing might be as a function of that and the physical structure of the pollen that's circulating might well be literally 'popping' the mousse.

As ever, fascinating blog - one of my brewing faves, keep up the good work!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Interesting stuff, hopefully with time the pollen will settle out. Thanks.

Carl said...

Hypothetically, if one was to use fresh cherry blossoms (Philadelphia, rather than, DC blossoms) in, say, a saison, how much would one use? Would one place them in the wort 5 min prior to flame out, or would one use them to "dry hop" the secondary.

My wife, who is from Japan, ensures me cherry blossoms are indeed edible. In Japan they are often pickled in salt (sakura no shiozuke) and placed on desserts. I know some Japanese brewers, and Smuttynose here in the US, make a "Hanami" ale, but as far as I know they all use cherry juice or concentrate, rather than the blossoms themselves. I'd like to make this beer for my wife. I'd prefer to have the flavoring subtle, rather than overwhelming, just enough to make it interesting while maintaining the saison style.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sadly no one who entered the Cherry Blossom Contest actually used cherry blossoms (despite the offer of bonus points). For something that delicate I'd lean towards adding them in secondary fresh. As for an amount, I really have no idea.

Here is a recipe that suggests 1/2 lb of orange blossoms in 7 gallons at flame out: a similarly crazy sounding amount might be needed with cherry blossoms.

If you end up trying it I'd be interested to hear how it turns out.

Jeffrey said...

FYI, this recipe isn't in your list of recipes on the recipe page.

I always have to google "mad fermentationist peach honey sour" to find it.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I tend to change the names of these beers (probably not the best idea) it is on the list as "Funky Flower" despite the fact that I ended up changing tact and not "dry flowering" as was my initial plan.

Jeffrey said...

I know it's been a long time, but do you have the non peach FG written down in your notes. I brewed this up last March and put it to bed in my cellar in June. Pulled my first gravity sample today since then, 1.004. The taste is bright and tart, with what I'd call a very then mouthfeel. At 1.004, expected...but a surprise too as this was the first sour I produced.

Really made this as gift to celebrate our first child. Planned to add peaches to 4 of 5 gallons, but she tasted it today and loved it so might be reducing the volume that gets peached.

Final question, do you think the oak was a good add?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I guess I missed taking an FG on this one (I’ll try to remember next time I open a bottle), but 1.004 sounds about right. Glad to hear your version turned out well! Carbonation will help to boost the body a bit, as would some light tannins from an oak addition. Although it is certainly not necessary, and if you like it as is there is no good reason to add something that will change the flavor profile