Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Russian River Temptation Clone Tasting

Thanks for the bottle of Russian River Temptation, Dyan...Over the next few weeks I'm going to revisit a few batches that I haven't done tastings for in more than a year (hopefully before the weather gets too hot and my interest in drinking well aged complex beers wanes).  Seth and I brewed this Temptation Clone about three and a half years ago.  Some of the stronger funky flavors have calmed down a lot since I did my first tasting, but sadly the acidity never increased to where I wanted it.

One of the issues I had with this batch was that I tried to follow Russian River's process too closely without taking into account the areas where I wasn't able to.  The saccharification rest called for (151 F) was lower than I would have usually selected and I only used microbes grown from the oak chips Vinnie inoculated with the Russian River's house culture.  I think this is an important point, if you can't imitate a brewer's technique 100% you may need to make adjustments in other areas to compensate.  In this case because I wasn't barrel aging or pitching a large amount of healthy Lacto/Pedio cells I should have upped my mash temp to ensure the bugs had more complex carbohydrates to work on.

It wasn't a complete loss though, the beer is still delicious and it reminded me to look at the entire process when changing any single variable.

A glass of Temptation clone, my sours always seem to clear eventually.RR Temptation Clone

Appearance – The bright white head is about two fingers thick to start, but it quickly sinks to a patchy covering. The body of the beer is clear golden yellow.

Smell – The nose is a complex blend of fruit (apples, pears), aged white wine, acid, and a subtle floral funk. It still has a relatively fresh aroma despite its advanced age.

Taste – The flavor is mildly tart with a slight malty sweetness starting to creep in. The flavor is still snappy, but it has started to lose some of the firmness it once had. The Brett funk is still wonderful though, with hay and lemons. The wine flavor is more restrained than it once was, but it still has a white grape character.

Mouthfeel – Good medium-light body, solid carbonation without being spritzy.  Not as carbonated and champagne-like as the original.

Drinkability & Notes – A wild beer that is balanced and easy to drink, but is it as good as Temptation? Of course not. However it is a solid complex winey sour blonde. It certainly would benefit from some additional acidity, which could be accomplished by mashing hotter and adding a higher pitching rate of microbes along with the primary yeast.


-- said...

Great point. Give three brewers/systems the same recipe and you're likely to get three different beers. Part of being a great brewer is knowing your system and being able to use it to produce a beer with specified characterisitics. Theres almost always more than one path to reach a given destination and there's too many universalists out there saying that "you have to do X to make Y".

Mike Rissell said...

looks tasty! While knowing i can't duplicate RR i too did a "clone"...while not coming close to what Vinny pulls off or even having his oak chips. i just dumped 4 bottles of dregs and chard soaked Hungarian oak cubes and let it set. coming up on a year in secondary and tastes great. i def got more sour/wild characteristics using dregs then commercial packs of bugs.
2 cents
thanks for the update!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Excellent. I think dregs are probably better than the chips, seems like the microbes survive better in the liquid rather than dried. Bottling soon?

Mike Rissell said...

getting ready to bottle. waiting on my 2 cases of belgian bottles. i already have the corks and cages.

Unknown said...

I fermented 1 gallon of wort with Temptation and Cascade Brewing Sang Royal dregs for two years. The beer was exceptionally sour, but tasted better than some other dreg experiments I've done. A month ago, I racked the 1 gallon + trub into a 5 gallon fermenter, and topped up with new wort. Getting no activity after 24 hours, I pitched a packet of US05, which fermented normally. Out of curiosity I tasted it recently, and was surprised at how close it tastes to some commercial Gueuze (no Cantillion, but better than Lindemans Cuvee Rene).

Question: I want to rack 2 gallons off and bottle that. I want to keep this culture going though, and after listening to a recent BasicBrewing podcast about solera with sour beer, I am wondering if I can brew two more gallons of wort and pitch directly into the fermenter. The trub has never been removed. My thinking is that I may be able to get more sour character than if I first fermented the additional 2 gallons of wort with USo5 before adding it to the fermenter. In your experience, how has long aged trub effected your sours? Thanks, you're my hero!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'd worry about bottling a sour beer after a month, what is the gravity? It doesn't take much of a gravity drop to over-carbonate a beer.

A bit of trub isn't a big deal for a sour in the medium term. Lambics are traditionally aged on trub until they are blended or fruited (up to four years). Let taste be your guide!