Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Amarillo Dry Hopped Sour Solera

One of my favorite flavors in a beer is the right mix of sour beer and dry hops. I’ve only done it a couple times in the past, but the results have all been great. In particular the combination of citrusy hop aromatics with acidity can be terrific, but is only available from a couple breweries (New Belgium’s Le Terroir being the most prominently). The key is waiting until the beer is ready to bottle before giving a couple weeks for the hops to infuse. Add the hops too early and you’ll end up with aromatics reminiscent of an old IPA by the time the beer is ready to drink. In this case Nathan and I blasted five gallons of the base beer with 4 oz of Amarillo pellets for three weeks in a carboy right before bottling.

This first pull from our apple brandy barrel solera is already pushing the high end of my preference for acetic acid (vinegar). The key to reducing acetic acid is limiting the amount of oxygen (from the air) that comes in contact with the aging beer. Hopefully we will be able to control the production for subsequent fills by topping off to reduce head space, controlling the temperature, and using a hard bung when fermentation is complete.

Goblet of Amarillo Dry Hopped Sour.Amarillo Apple Brandy Barrel Solera

Appearance – Amber in the glass, but burnt orange when held to a light. It has a decent white head and even leaves some lacing, which is better than most sour beers.

Smell – Big citrusy Amarillo aromatics, still pretty fresh. Tropical. Has a bit of dankness that I don’t normally get with this fruity hop. There are hints of the sourness in the aroma, some of the signature fruity Brett esters. I also get some apple, maybe from the barrel (I get apple cider vinegar in the nose of the plain version).

Taste – Sharp lactic sourness, with just a little acetic burn in the finish. The hop character takes a primary role as it did in the nose. The Amarillo covers up some of the more complex notes from the barrel and microbes, but I really like the combination of citrusy (pineapple and lemon?) hops with the sharpness.

Mouthfeel – Relatively light mouthfeel for a strong beer, but it does not taste thin despite finishing at 1.004. Restrained carbonation, which is about right for a bigish sour beer.

Drinkability & Notes – I think the dry hops actually cut through the sourness of the base beer slightly. After a few months in this bottle the hops are already starting to fade, but it is still a solid beer. I’m trying to work through the bottles I have left before they oxidize completely.


Paul! said...

yum! Dry hopped sour beer is one of my favorite flavors. It's interesting that dry hopping sours isn't more prevalent. They blend and spice sour ales left and right at Cascade Barrel house here in Portland, but I've never seen anything as simple as say, an amarillo dry hopped flanders red. It's weird.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

It is surprising. When I talked to pat from Alpine, which does great sours and great IPAs, I tried to talk him into it. He didn't seem convinced.

I've also always dreamed of a day when Russian River will make a version of Beatification dry hopped with the Pliny the Younger schedule.

Levi said...

Our homebrew group is getting a red wine barrel to age a sour brew in. I am trying to convince them that we should dry-hop at least some of the final product, but they need convincing. What do you think the best base beer to brew would be for making a dry-hopped sour?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

What we do with our group barrels is to leave them "plain" that is no dry hops, spices, fruit etc. If anyone wants to make an addition to some of their share, they are free to after it comes out. I think anything in the pale-red spectrum of sour beers works well with dry hops. A darker beer could be terrific, but its flavors are not as natural of a pairing. Depending on the character of the beer you can pick your hops to either complement or contrast with the aromatics produced by the Brett. Good luck!

TimBeer said...

That makes a lot of sense - aging the base beer and then doing different things with it. That way you have lots of opportunities to experiment.

Dank brewer said...

If your having trouble working through the bottles you can certainly sent one to Mpls! I know it's hard to give away precious bottles.

I wouldn't mind making a trade as I just bottled my first Flanders and want some feedback. I believe it's getting tasted about right now (literally) at the St.Paul NHC first round.

navethechimp said...

Fuck yes. I fully stand by this.

Although I haven't explored dry hopping soured beers much, I've had a great amount of success with dry hopping funky beers. One of the best beers I've made was an 8% Belgian pale, hop bursted with citra, amarillo, and simcoe, aged with brett b. and dry hopped with the same hops. It was very reminiscent of Anchorage's Bitter Monk, but without the columbus bite--yeah, I'm an Alpine fanboy. Yesterday I rebrewed it, but as my first 100% brett batch! We'll see what some tartness contributes. Probably some tartness.

Not gonna lie, I have read every post you've made related to brett fermentation to understand how to move forward with this line of recipes. Eternally indebted.