Monday, February 28, 2011

100% Brett Brux Sour Brown

Last summer I brewed an Oud Bruin that I soured half of pre-boil with a starter made from the microbes living on a handful of pale malt.  Most of the soured wort was boiled and then blended with the clean half that was already fermenting with a neutral ale yeast.  The resulting beer was fine, but not one of my favorite batches (after sitting on tap for a few months I took it off and added some blackberries and black raspberries and blended it with another traditionally souring batch).

Back in July when I was blending the soured and clean portions I ended up with an extra two quarts of the soured wort.  Not wanting to waste the "free" beer I racked it into a growler and pitched some of the White Labs Brett B starter I had on hand.  This wort was already quite sour, and it was unhopped, so I had no idea how it would turn out.  The other 100% Brett beers I've brewed were fermented with B. clausenii and B. anomalus (milder strains), and at most some of them had a hint of tartness from an addition of acid malt. 

After a few months in primary I bottled the Brett B portion, but at that point the flavor wasn't great (a bit too funky with a strong worty flavor).  After a few months in the bottle though and the flavor really turned around, with a solid acidity, lots of cherry funk, and just a bit of that grainy flavor (maybe a longer boil would have helped?).  This combination of souring the wort pre-boil and doing a 100% Brett fermentation seems like a legitimate way to turn out a relatively "authentic" tasting sour beer in less than half the time it takes to do the souring and funking simultaneously.  I'll certainly be giving a full batch done with way a shot sometime soon (once I get a few other experiments out of the way).

Brett Brux Sour Brown

This method may be quick for a sour ale, but still much slower than most other beers.Appearance – Nearly crystal-clear amberish brown body with a moderate white head. The foam retention is alright, but it doesn't leave much lacing.

Smell – Funky tart cherry aroma, with good intensity. It has more grain/toast character than most “standard” sour beers I've brewed, fresher flavor. There is just a hint of vinegar in the aroma as it warms.

Taste – The lactic acidity isn't aggressive but it seems to coat the entire surface of my mouth. There is some sweetness, but nothing like a sweet and sour Flemish Red. The balance most reminds me of Ithaca Brute, although their production method (acid malt for sourness, Brett in the barrel) is much different.

Mouthfeel – Still has a bit of body, but there is a lingering tannic roughness on the tongue. The medium-high carbonation works well with this beer helping to lift the sweetness.

Drinkability & Notes – A pleasant beer that has gone over well with the people who have sampled it. Turned out great for an experiment, worth a repeat with a lower mash temp and a longer boil.


Andrew said...

So this was only a few quarts, right? Not much beer, but a really cool idea!

Bear Flavored said...

I've been a regular reader of your blog for a while, I check it often for sour-brewing tips. I'm planning to do something very similar to this and just spent the last few hours googling around to see if anyone else had tried it. Wasn't surprised when I eventually dug up this post here, but it's awesome to see that you already had success with this. I figured someone had to have done it and written about it.

For mine, I'm going to use acid malt as well as a sour mash, boil, and then pitch 100% Brett B. (Calling it Triple-Method Sour.) I figure it should be decently sour and funky (and hit terminal gravity) within a few months.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Good luck! I just did my first beer really soured with acid malt... or at least that was the plan. Even 20% of the grist and I only got down to ~4.5 pH on the mash. Fermenting with saison yeast, although it will get Brett (no bacteria) tomorrow. Let me know how it turns out.

Sad to say I only have 2 bottles of this one left, always the way with small batches.