Sunday, November 14, 2010

Quick Oud Bruin Tasting

 I've settled into quite a rhythm with the way I make sour beers.  However, there are loads of other routes to take.  While New Glarus, Cascade, Russian River, and Ithaca all make some delicious sour beers, the ways they do it vary considerably.

I'm hoping to try some different methods to see if there are any techniques that can help me to make my sours taste better, be more consistent, and get ready to drink sooner.  The first of those departures was an Oud Bruin using a method based on the way New Glarus (reportedly) sours Raspberry Tart, Belgian Red, and some of their Unplugged beers.  The results were interesting, and it certainly was faster than brewing a sour the old fashion way.  However, without the slower multi-microbe fermentation the sourness comes out somewhat flat (I also fermented part of this batch with 100% Brett Brux, which will make for an interesting comparison).

Sour Brown

It certainly was much faster...Appearance – Marginally hazy amber going into brown. The thin white head collapses quickly into a wispy covering.

Smell – The aroma comes across as toasty, a combination of the malt and the oak. There is a vinous character that increases as the beer warms a bit.

Taste – Mellow tangy tartness. A friend of mine commented that he didn't think it tasted lactic, but I think it is just lower level and “cleaner” than most sour beers display. It has a bit of oak character (spice with some vanilla), but it doesn't come across as excessively tannic. The balance of slightly sour with slightly sweet is interesting, and one I don't taste too often in beer.

Mouthfeel – Medium body with medium-low carbonation. The body is nice for a dark sour, which often are a bit too thin for me.

Drinkability & Notes – I go back and forth on this beer, sometime I like it others it comes across as a bit vegetal. Even when the beer is “on” there is just something about the combination of flavors that doesn't send me back for a second pour from the tap. It is an interesting beer, but I think I may evacuate the last few gallons from the keg to add fruit and some Brett.



Do you remember your impressions of the beer after two weeks of fermentation? I used this method, and when I tasted my hydrometer sample pulled from this beer after two weeks of fermentation (one for the sour portion), and the sourness was a little garbage-y, or maybe what you described as vegetal.

I pitched the dregs of two bottles of Orval at the start, so I know the brett will continue to act, and very well may change this perception. The sourness is pleasant, but "warmer" and of a character I mentioned earlier.

Just curious if you remember your thoughts at this point in the process.

You can read more detailed notes on my blog.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Before boiling I was surprised how clean the sourness was. It wasn't until I tasted the beer a couple months later (once it was carbonated) that I noticed that "off" character. The Brett certainly should help to clean things up.

Hope your batch turns out well.

brian spaulding said...

One way to quicker sourness that I've had luck with is simply by using Jolly Pumpkin dregs. Build up a few bottles worth in a starter and pitch as a secondary. Use something like Wlp550 as the primary strain. You can produce a great sour in a few months. Also works as a repitch in a second beer.

jaymo said...

I'm actually not terribly surprised that the sourness sounds a bit one-dimensional. I don't know how many New Glarus "sours" you've had, but as a Wisconsinite, I've had most of them they've released, including their various 'Unplugged' limited release things.

All of their sours beers come off as lacking the complexity of most other sours I've tried. For awhile I thought they just added lactic acid to some of their beers. Without the aging with wild yeast, I just find them somewhat disappointing sometimes. That said, they've made some really good beers too!

sixbillionethans said...

A couple of the comments (and the blog) point towards the deficiencies of this brewing method. I think the key is that it is one more tool that the homebrewer has to make sour beers.

By itself, it probably makes a bit of a one-dimensional beer. But combine it with more character-ful primary yeasts or, better yet, mixed fermentations, and you get some nice options.

I might think of a tart Belgian white, a sour saison, or use it to kick-start the souring of an otherwise "traditional" sour ale (Flanders, Lambic-style, etc). Maybe it decreases the time to make a nice and well-rounded sour beer from 18 to 6 months

Great blog. It's pretty cool that I could help inspire your brewing, since your blog has given me some excellent ideas as well.


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Agreed, an interesting tool to add to the bag of tricks (I just wasn’t happy with the way this particular application of it turned out). I know Russian River does a sour mash before spontaneously fermenting Beatification, so I am considering going that route with this technique for a spontaneous beer I’m hoping to find time to brew soon.

Now that I have 3 cases of de-labeled bottles I just need to find time to bottle a beer to free up the space to rack the remainder of this beer onto blackberries and black raspberries.

AaronWesternNY said...

Have you all thought about doing 5 gal of unhopped wort fermented with just lacto? This "base sour" can then be blended to taste at bottling to a variety of beers. I did a Belgian Pale with the Quick Oud Bruin format(pretty good btw), blended it to taste and have 2 gallons of lacto-sour left over to dose other beers.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

How low did the gravity of your lacto only beer get? My concern is that there would still be some unfermentables that would be consumed by the yeast in the other beer and create over carbonation. Certainly seems like something to have in the bag of tricks if it works.

Glad the beer came out well.

AaronWesternNY said...

I did not take a gravity of the sour half- I have read lactic acid is roughly the same density of sugar, so therefore the hydrometer reading is unreliable. My grain starter (lacto source) was working for 5 days. After pitching into 2.5 gallons, day 2 of the ferment of the lacto half was pH 3.8, after a week pH was 3.2. I understand lacto doesn't produce in a much lower pH than this.

So far I have had no carbonation issues. The beer conditioned well (I only bottle)and no over-carbing issues as of 1 month in bottle. The lacto half was boiled, killing the lacto.

Have you thought about different grain bills for pure lacto ferments and what differences they would contribute to the finished product?

PetterF said...

How did this beer compare to classics like Goudenband?

Sure the beer could probably be more exiting with more funk, but for a classic oud bruin I guess clean and sweet is appropriate.

This method seems like it fits well with oud bruins, and maybe berliner weisses and wits. Looking forward to test it out soon!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Really no comparison, Goudenband has a much weirder and more interesting aroma when it's on. It's also a stronger and longer-aged beer. This was much closer to Ichtegem's and Vanderghinste. Sweet and tart, malty, simple.