Dark-strong-sour beers have some serious magic in them. They age gracefully practically forever, developing deep complexities. De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva is one of my favorites: tart, vinous, blue-cheesy, warming (but not hot, despite 13% ABV), and lightly oaky. Russian River Conseration, BFM Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien, The Lost Abbey Cuvee de Tomme, and Boulevard Love Child are a few others worth seeking.
For the first Modern Times brew-with-Mike Kickstarter reward, I decided to brew something along the same line. I don’t know the recipe for the base Oerbier, but I’d assume a selection of specialty malts and some candi syrup are involved. In a beer like this, the specifics of the fermentables aren't terribly important as the bugs and wood will change their character. I also aimed for substantially less alcohol (8-8.5% ABV) to make it something I can drink with a bit more regularity.
For almost their first 20 years, De Dolle pitched a culture they picked up at Rodenbach. When the source dried up, they continued to repitched the culture, which eventually resulted in bottles exploding as the yeast became more attenuative and alcohol tolerant. The remaining bottles were transferred to used red-wine barrels to create the first batch of Stille Nacht Special Reserva. The result was so good they've released several versions of Stille Nacht like this (although I enjoy Oerbier Special Reserva more). A house Brettanomyces strain for these beers was re-cultured from an old keg returned from Finland.
Luckily the De Dolle's brewer’s yeast strain is purportedly available from Wyeast (3942, Belgian Wheat), unluckily the night before brewing I managed to knock my precariously balanced 5L flask off my under-sized stir-plate. A good reason to always keep a selection of dried yeasts on hand!
Rather than risk pitching bottle dregs from such a strong beer, Nick from The Yeast Bay offered to culture and isolate the dregs from a bottle of the 2012 vintage that I shipped to him. The two yeasts he isolated turned out to be not particularly attenuative, which may not be the worst thing for a strong beer like this. I pitched both strains because multiple Brett isolates generally preform better than one. I saved some of each culture for single Brett trials when I get to it though.
I added a few Port-soaked oak cubes I’ve had sitting in a mason jar for a couple years when I racked to secondary. I always have oak cubes sitting in a variety of liquors, ready to add when I need them. Another nice thing to have on hand.
Hopefully this batch turns out well, we've got 30 bbls of a similar recipe (with different microbes) aging in red wine barrels at the Modern Times Beer Fermentorium!
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 15.00
Anticipated OG: 1.070
Anticipated SRM: 20.9
Anticipated IBU: 13.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes
63.3% - 9.50 lbs. American Pale Malt
18.3% - 2.75 lbs. German Munich Malt
6.7% - 1.00 lbs. Candi Sugar Syrup D90
5.0% - 0.75 lbs. Biscuit Malt
5.0% - 0.75 lbs. Crystal 60L
0.8% - 0.13 lbs. Carafa Special III
0.8% - 0.13 lbs. Sauer(acid) Malt
0.63 oz. Palisade (Pellet, 6.50% AA) @ 60 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
DCL Yeast T-58 SafBrew Specialty Ale
Yeast Bay DDOSR C1
Yeast Bay DDOSR C2
Profile: Washington, DC
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 151 F
11/13/13 Made a 3 L stir-plate starter of Wyeast 3942, nearly 3 months old. Started quickly.
5 gallons of mash water, w/ 3 g CaCl. 4 gallons sparge water with 3 g of CaCl. 2 tsp of phosphoric acid added to the batch sparge. Collected 7 gallons of 1.053 runnings. Added D90 candi syrup.
Chilled to 70 F. Added 1 packet of T58, and pitches of two isolates from Yeast Bay of De Dolle Oerbier Special Reserva (DDOSR C1, and DDOSR C2).
12/7/13 Racked to secondary with 1 oz of Port-soaked French oak cubes.
Added dregs from Modern Time Empty Hats as there wasn't much funk.
10/23/15 Added 16 oz King's Orchard Montmorency Tart Cherry Juice Concentrate (equivalent to ~10 lbs of cherries!)
9/10/16 Bottled resulting 4.5 gallons with 92 g of table sugar.
5/15/17 Tasting notes. FG 1.011, ~8.5% ABV including the cherry concentrate.