Monday, July 27, 2015

Apricots, Lactobacillus, and Hops

Love the orange color the apricot added!As fun as it is to talk about being inspired by astrophysics, architecture, travel, and art (Nathan's dry hopped tripel inspired by Gauguin's paintings of Tahiti) the best beer ideas usually come from drinking delicious beers! The flavor concept for this batch came from a homebrewed Citra apricot sour saison that a fan (thanks Aaron!) sent me last year.

I’ve combined fruity hops and actual fruit a few times (e.g., grapefruit, Cascade, and Chinook, papaya and Citra) but never in a sour beer. With so much being added to the aroma, I didn’t want to waste the time it takes to achieve a perfectly-balanced subtly-funky mixed-fermentation sour. So I opted for a quick souring method (went on tap less than two months after brew day).

I diverted 5 gallons of wort from my Northeast IPA recipe prior to adding any bittering hops. I opted for 100% Lactobacillus followed by a big pitch of Brettanomyces. The acidity came form a package of Omega’s Lacto Blend that founder Lance Shaner sent to me a few months prior. All I can say is “wow!” I knocked out warm, and left the wort at 80F and within 24 hours the pH was already down to 3.3! The risk with a strain this aggressive is that you can over-sour if you don't monitor closely. Rather than pasteurize the wort, I simply cooled it slightly and pitched a starter of East Coast Yeast Dirty Dozen (a blend of 12 Brett strains) that Al had sent. 

Lance (who also broke the Brett Trois isn’t Brett news) has been making waves recently by claiming that Lactobacillus cultures from some labs have a not-insignificant yeast population. I’ve heard similar things from several skilled microscope-wielders over the last couple years. Once purified, Lance found that none of the Lactobacillus cultures achieved more than 11% apparent attenuation. He contends that complete attenuation (as I achieved in my 100% Lacto batch) indicates the presence of yeast (full attenuation with Lacto would necessitate production of an undrinkable amount of lactic acid - which I clearly did not achieve).

I’ve been listening to The Sour Hour, and heard Cory King from Side Project (episode 3) and Tim Clifford from Sante Adairius (episode 5) both use apricot puree for Abricot Du Fermier and West Ashley respectively (as does host Jay Goodwin for Rare Barrel's Map of the Sun). All three use (loads) of Oregon Fruit Products, but I went with three 49 oz cans of Vintner’s Harvest (9.25 lbs of fruit added to 4 gallons of beer). I hadn’t used commercial fruit puree in more than eight years years because of how painful it was to separate from the beer without losing 20% of the batch. Sad to say, my opinion isn’t changing after this batch. On a homebrew-scale, it is just so much easier to transfer off of whole or sliced fruit (which makes up for the additional work of getting the fruit into the beer). Luckily the flavor from the puree is really nice!

I waited for the fermentation on the fruit to calm down, then added two ounces each of Amarillo and Citra. It’s the same fruity combination we use for the Modern Times Fortunate Island recipe (as does Kern River for their Citra DIPA). The brightness of the Amarillo tempers Citra, which can become dank on its own. That's an IPA-level dry hopping rate, but with so much fruit it was necessary to get it to come through at all! Oddly (and thankfully), dry hopping tempers the perception of acidity for me.

The result is an intensely sour and fruit-forward beer in relatively short order. If you don’t have Dirty Dozen, something like 3711 French Saison would work well. The extra gallon of the base beer is currently sitting on the interiors from two passionfruits; no dry hops planned!

The puree mostly sank eventually.Apricot Atomic Sour

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.50
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.25
Anticipated OG: 1.052
Anticipated SRM: 3.7
Anticipated IBU: 0.00
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70%
Wort Boil Time: 30 Minutes

81.6% - 10.00 lbs. Rahr 2-Row Brewers Malt
8.2% - 1.00 lbs. Flaked Corn (Maize)
6.1% - 0.75 lbs. Weyermann CaraPils
2.0% - 0.25 lbs. Weyermann Acidulated Malt
2.0% - 0.25 lbs. King Arthur All Purpose Flour

2.00 oz. Citra (Pellet, 12.00% AA) Dry Hop Secondary
2.00 oz. Amarillo (Pellet, 10.00% AA) Dry Hop Secondary

0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 8 min.
0.50 Whirlfloc @ 8 min.

OYL-605 Omega Lactobacillus Blend
ECY34 East Coast Yeast Dirty Dozen

Water Profile
Profile: Washington, Hoppy

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 30 min @ 154F

5/23/15 -  L starter of ECY Dirty Dozen and .5 L starter of Omega Lacto Blend.

Brewed 5/24/15

Note: this recipe was actually double everything listed, half was run off after 30 minutes for souring.

Mash was 3 gallons of distilled, plus 4.25 filtered DC tap. 2 tsp of 10% phosphoric acid. 6 g each CaCl and Gypsum. Mash pH = 5.33 after 5 minutes of recirculation. 1 gallon of distilled added as a cold sparge. 120 PPM chloride and 140 PPM sulfate, including mash and sparge water.

Boiled 30 minutes without hops. Ran-off 5.5 gallons at 1.052 and 90F. Added 17 g of 88% Lactic Acid to lower the pH to 4.34. Tasted ever so slightly tart. Pitched the Lacto starter. Left at 80F to sour.

5/25/15 24 hours later, already at 3.29 pH! Moved to the basement at 63F to cool for 6 hours before pitching Brett.

6/20/15 Racked 4 gallons of the sour half onto three 49 wt oz cans of Vintner's Harvest Apricot (~9.25 lbs total - 2.3 lbs/gallon). Racked the rest to a one gallon secondary. Brett is more fruity than funky at this point. At 1.008.

7/7/15 Added 2 oz each Citra and Amarillo loose to the sour/apricot portion. Flushed head space with CO2, left at 65 F.

7/14/15 Kegged. Clogged the flow-control faucet. Switched to standard Perlick. Final pH 3.19.

7/22/15 Added the meat from two passion fruits to the one gallon of remaining non-fruited beer.

8/11/15 Tasting of the apricot dry-hopped version. Wow, big acid, fruit, and fresh hoppiness. The apricot turned the sourness up more than than I expected.

10/27/15 Tasting notes for the passion fruit version. Could have added more, but it is refreshing and pleasant as is.


Hunington said...

Sounds fantastic. I'm more likely to try The Yeast Bay for a blend, though, because Al's stuff is just not readily available to us mere mortals. To that I can always try your Dregs addition method, as I have a bottle of Cantillon waiting just for this purpose. Thank you for your continued expertise and experimentation. Happy brewing.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

If you build up any of those Yeast Bay Brett blends it'd work fine I'm sure!

If you go dregs, I'd likely pitch some brewer's yeast too!

NoVA Brewer said...

That sounds amazing! I love the idea I'm going to be brewing something similar, a quick extract brew which I'm going to ferment with Omega Yeast's Bit O' Funk and GigaYeast's Fast Souring Lacto before racking onto 12 pounds of yellow peaches and dry hopping with citra and mosaic.

Your recipe leaves me with a few questions. I had planned on pitching the brett and lacto together, but I see that you pitched the lacto before the brett. Is one method better than the other? And from your experience with fruited sours, do you recommend any treatment for the fruit (which is now chopped up and frozen) other than letting it thaw in the carboy before I rack onto it?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Should be a delicious combo!

Pitching just Lacto allows you to ferment warmer and have a bit more control (you could pasteurize when your target pH is achieved for example). However, if I brewed this again I'd probably pitch them together/cooler to reduce the acidity. I haven't used the GigaYeast Lacto, so not sure how much acidity you should expect.

Nothing you need to do to the fruit, given the acidity and wild yeast of the beer, anything that survived the freezing won't do much.

jnthnltz said...

I noticed you created a starter for the Dirty Dozen blend. I scored a vial of this and was wondering if I could create a starter? Does this affect the 'balance' of the blend? Is it possible to 'overbuild' starters to keep a fresh pitch of this around indefinitely? By overbuild I mean - make a 3L starter, pitch 2L into whatever beer I'm brewing, and keep 1L around indefinitely to create another 3l starter.


Unknown said...

Hey Mike, awesome sounding beer! A couple of questions. I'm not setup to keg, and as such don't have the ability to purge with CO2. If you had bottled this beer, would you have let it get lower than 1.008 first? Lastly, if I were to try a similar sour wort technique as you did here, would I be risking butyric acid development without the ability to purge the carboy of O2?


Anthony said...

Pectic enzyme can help with the puree yield issues.

Four Fermentors said...

Never used puree yet, any tips on what you may do different to rack off of to get a cleaner beer?

Unknown said...

If you were going to bottle conditioned a beer like this would you package at the same time as you would keg or would you wait longer to monitor gravity changes? I have a whole nectarine sour at about 2 months and it tastes perfect but I'm worried about bottling too early.

Unknown said...

What was it about the puree that was tough to separate? I did basically what you did above, but with cherries and didn't notice any issues when auto-siphoning after a cold crash.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I'm sure some of the Brett strains grow at different rates, but it isn't like growing a mixed culture of various different species. If it was a fresh vial I likely wouldn't have bothered, but it had been sitting in my fridge for a few months. I'd rather risk a slightly different ratio than intended. The more times you reculture, the more the populations will shift. You'll have to see for yourself how that changes the fermentation.

With that many Brett strains it would have likely dropped a few more points. You'd need to wait for a month to ensure consistent gravity readings before bottling. Even a single point drop and I'd wait another month.

If you are pitching a pure culture of Lactobacillus, the risk of not purging is pretty low. Lacto doesn't change it's behavior much in the presence of oxygen. That is a much bigger concern when trying to encourage Lacto from a wild mixed-culture (say grain) because you also have aerobic microbes.

With puree you really just have to sacrifice more beer to leave all of the puree behind. With whole/sliced fruit there is usually enough integrity that you can stick your auto-siphon down into the fruit and siphon out most of the beer other than what is trapped within the fruit. This is easier for cherries compared to raspberries (which really fall apart), but they still settle out in a more compact layer.

Joe Grimm said...

Mike, this sounds very similar to a beer we have in the tank right now called Rainbow Dome. I'd love to trade some bottles when they're ready. -JG

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Send me an email! Just drank (and very much enjoyed) Bees In The Trappe.

Steve Beitz said...

This recipe sounds pretty awesome and I'm going to try it after my next hoppy red ale, I've been meaning to get into sours for a while now and this seems like a great start!

Question for you though, in your notes you mention "Wyeast pack of 1318" however I don't see that you ever pitched this yeast when reading down your notes, did you add this with the Brett or not at all? I notice from your book that you typically pitch everything at once, however this recipe pitches in stages so I am wondering when you pitch the yeast in this batch?

Unknown said...

Great post, very informative! I do have a question though. When you made the lacto starter did you worry about oxygen? I've read that Brevis should use a stir plate, but other lacto strains shouldn't and have even seen airlocks and a co2 purge recommended to eliminate oxygen.

I see that you are saying it's not a big risk when you are pitching, just wondering if it's different for the starter itself.

jbakajust1 said...

So what was the final pH reading after fermentation?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The 1318 was for the IPA half of the batch, removed the reference to reduce confusion!

L .brevis grows slightly quicker on a stir-plate, but no Lacto needs oxygen for robust cell growth. I don't worry too much about oxygen when using pure cultures, that is a much bigger concern when you are trying to use a wild source (like grain) to start a lactic fermentation.

Haven't gotten around to a final pH reading yet. I'll try to remember the next time I have the meter out and calibrated. I think pH is much more important for process control than it is evaluation. I trust my tongue more than a meter.

Unknown said...

Thanks for the response! I've got one more question I didn't think of though, how do you calculate the amount of lactic acid needed to lower the ph to 4.5? I've found a few calculators online but they don't seem to be designed to adjust the collected wort ph, but rather the sparge water ph and mash ph.

Also, am I correct in reading that you add the lactic acid to the collected wort, and not to the sparge water or mash?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Ideally you'd add some, check the pH, and add more to hit your target. 10-15 g in 5 gallons is the range it usually takes for my beers. However, that will likely depend on your water, grain bill, and mash/boil pH adjustments. Correct, it goes in right before to Lactobacillus (I wouldn't want to disrupt the enzymes in the mash by lowering the pH that far).

Unknown said...

Hey, long time reader of your blog. Great, great stuff.
Anyway, I've been dabbling in a few sours and Brett'd beers. Right now Ive got 2 100% Brett IPA that I really want to put on tap. I see a lot of your wild beers say "kegged" in the recipe notes at the end. DO you have a dedicated tap line for these ones? I also use a blichmann beer gun to bottle IPAs and stuff from my kegs to save things for competition. I would be most worried about that getting contaminated and passing it along to any clean beer I try to bottle afterwards

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I do have a dedicated kegs/tap/line for sours on tap. If you are very careful you could probably get away with shared equipment, but it isn't worth the risk for me!

Unknown said...

I was wondering if you could give me some tips on how I should filter my next sour. I use puree fruit (from Oregon Fruits) in all my sours. The last time I bottled my last batch the bottles got a fair amount of skins/ little bit of pieces of fruit. I tend to use a lot of fruit which creates slug. How should I try to transfer my next batch?

When I make IPA's and Hoppy Pale Ales I'll use biofine which works perfectly. I don't want to use biofine for my sours because I want to bottle condition my bottles. Is there a way that you suggest I try to filter the fruit from carboy to the keg then I'll use a beer gun to bottle condition with sugar?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Not my area of experience, this was my first batch using canned puree since ~2006. You can add a small filter, but if you aren't careful it can oxidize the beer. I've put fine mesh/nylons over the outflow when dealing with frozen raspberries (which practically puree themselves). Racking to keg, letting settle, and then dumping the gunk is an option.

I don't think Biofine is powerful enough to cause issue bottle conditioning (not sure if it will be effective against fruit though), but you could always reyeast if you were worried!

Unknown said...

Was the all-purpose flour just to provide a haziness to the finished product? Or does that add something else to the beer?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

The flour was for head retention. It should convert in the mash. The cloudiness was likely from low-flocculating Brett, the pasteurized fruit, and dry hops. If you want guaranteed haze though, add a tablespoon of flour to the boil!

Unknown said...

Mike, where did the final gravity on this one end up? Was thinking to do something similar, but bottle condition.

Unknown said...

Would you recommend pitching Trois and Lacto at the same time for a quick sour?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I still need to take an FG, but likely ~1.005.

Nice starters of Trois and Lacto brevis would be a fun combination. Honestly for a beer like this with so much other character, the yeast strain isn't hugely consequential.

John said...

Did you aerate wort prior to pitching lacto or brett

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

No reason to aerate prior to the Lacto (it generally isn't helped or harmed by oxygen, so better to leave it out). I probably gave it a brief shake before pitching the Brett (forgot to note it), but with a big starter you can actually encourage ester production by under-aerating. I wouldn't go nuts with aeration!

Unknown said...

I just brewed this exactly how you did, even including doing the Northeast IPA and can't wait to see you it comes out. I now realize I used enriched all-purpose flour, do you think that's going to cause me any issues?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I little B-vitamin? Likely good for yeast health, such a small amount won't cause any delectable difference. Let me know how they turn out!

Unknown said...

As my previous comment, I brewed the exact same as you, but didn't make a starter for my Brett blend. After 4 days at 68° I had zero activity so I moved the fermenter to where it's 76° and it's starting to show some slow signs of life. What temp did you ferment at and how was your activity?

Unknown said...

How did you dry hop this? I used quartered apricots and they're all consuming the whole top part of my glass fermenter. If I drop hops in there I think it's unlikely much will get into the beer.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Ambient temperature was mid-60s (as mentioned in the notes). Activity was vigorous!

I used apricot puree, so that was less of an issue (I added the pellets directly). You could transfer onto the dry hops in a flushed keg/carboy after the microbes are finished with the fruity!

Unknown said...

Hey Mike, I finally had a taste of this after brewing it last month. Came out fantastic! Thought I would let you know. Mine is a nice light apricot color and kicks with fruit.

Unknown said...

Hey Mike, when you guys get into production at Sapwood, do you think you'll try using puree again? I was wondering if the ability to cold crash in the fermenter would allow you to separate more of the beer from the puree.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Puree makes much more sense on a commercial scale, but I'm hoping we can continue to use as much local fruit as possible. The Mid-Atlantic barley and hops aren't perfect, but we have wonderful local cherries, peaches, plums etc. We likely won't be adding fruit to sour beer in jacketed tanks for cost/scale/practicality reasons. Hoping to find a screen/mesh pickup for the wine tanks though...

Anonymous said...

Could this recipe be altered so that the pitch of Brettanomyces could do its thing over a longer period of time? If you didn't want to rush when would you add the fruit? Would you let the Brettanomyces work for 6-9 months and then add the fruit?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sure, you could do a traditional mixed fermentation with Sacch, Brett, and Bacteria. Although at these fruit and dry hop-rates I'm not sure you'd be able to taste much difference...