With 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).
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
Profile: Washington DC
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.