Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Apricot Atomic Sour (Smoothie) Tasting

I needed an accompaniment to my milkshake IPA, so why not a smoothie sour (recipe)? I’m always trying to discover new ways to turn 10 gallons of wort into two completely different beers. In this case it was by pulling five gallons before adding the bittering hops.

The un-hopped wort started with a terrifically quick acidification thanks to Omega Lacto Blend, followed by primary fermentation with 12 strains of Brett courtesy of East Coast Yeast Dirty Dozen (no brewer’s yeast was harmed in the making of this beer). After those two fermentations I loaded apricot puree and then plenty of Citra and Amarillo into the fermentor. Something like Cantillon Fou’ Foune meets Kern River Citra Double IPA!

Sour beers often have fizzy head retention, but I did everything I could to promote stable foam for this batch: adding CaraPils and wheat flour to the mash and pre-acidifying the wort to a pH of 4.4 to inhibit protein breakdown by the Lactobacillus.

Apricot Quick Sour with Citra and Amarillo.Apricot Atomic Sour

Appearance – Looks like an apricot smoothie in the best possible way. Glowing peachy-apricot body with a sturdy white head. Probably the best retention I’ve been able to produce on a sour beer!

Smell – There is a big fresh and dried apricot aromatics, with just a touch of the Amarillo fruitiness carrying through. With four ounces of dry hops serving as an accent, you can get an idea of how intense the fruit is! Minimal Brett character, but there is a slight toasty/earthy character I’ll give it credit for. The hops, especially the dankness of the Citra, come through more as I approach the bottom of the glass.

Taste – While several million years of primate evolution suggest that fruity aroma will translate to sweetness, there isn’t much to be found. The juicy apricot carries through beautifully, but the sugar is gone, replaced by big acidity. Very lactic, bright, and sharp. Coats the mouth is a slurry of fruit, hops, and acid. A loud beer, all the flavors are turned up more than would work were each alone, but in concert they synergize surprisingly well!

Mouthfeel – Light and lively, but not tannic or thin. While there is plenty of acidity from the quick Lactobacillus fermentation, I didn’t allow the Brett enough time to break down the dextrins.

Drinkability & Notes – Not a beer that excels at subtlety, but damn if I don’t keep going back for another sip. Not as good as either the Cantillon or Kern River alone, but I’m sure it’s better than dumping them together 50/50! Next time I would dial back the acidity and apricot respectively to increase the drinkable and allow the hops/Brett to shine through. This is a base beer (co-pitching the Lacto and Brett) that I’ll likely come back to with other flavor combinations!


mjfuson said...

I'm drooling. The beer looks like a dreamsicle.

Gilas said...

How long was the lactic primary? What is the final ph? It does look amazingly tasty!

James said...

Gilas - you can read the recipe notes from the second link in the post.

1. He pitched the bacteria on May 24 and racked to secondary on June 20.

2. Final pH of 3.19.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Exactly, although the Lacto only got a day alone before I pitched the Brett.

Unknown said...

Hey Mike, since you didn't pasteurize the sour wort post-lacto and before pitching the brett, how much further would you expect the pH to drop? Will the lacto reach a terminal acidity on its own, or did the addition of the brett simply cut off its food supply?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Likely a combination of the two. The studies with pure culture fermentations by Matt and Lance uaibg the L. plantarum isolate from the blend ended up around pH 3.2 (similar to mine). The apricot likely helped drop the pH in mine, so if I'd given the Lacto more time before pitching the Brett, it may have ended up even more sour.

Rye guy said...

"While there is plenty of acidity from the quick Lactobacillus fermentation, I didn’t allow the Brett enough time to break down the dextrins"

-Does this mean that if you were to have bottle conditioned this beer, then you would've needed to wait for the brett to fully complete it's fermentation to prevent potential bombs? I wonder about how much more time this would add to the equation.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Especially with that many Brett strains, I'd be hesitant to have bottled this when I kegged it. I would have aged it for probably another three months, (assuming stable gravity readings) I'd proceeded with the fruit and dry hops.

I saved a gallon of this batch that I ended up adding the innards of two passion fruits to. Just bottled it 10 days ago. Not much carbonation on the bottle I opened yesterday, but we'll see in a few months!

If you wanted to speed it up, a single Brett strain would be more reliable at achieving a stable final gravity.

jh said...


I'm so impressed with Omega's Lacto blend. I've had pretty poor experiences trying to get a sour program going on the home brew level (generally just pitching dregs). I was inspired by this post to try some Omega lacto.

Pitched .5L of Omega and left it in the wort at about 95F for 24 hours. Of course, you don't get all of the complexity of say a Cantillon or anything aged in barrels for 18+ months, but I was blown away by the clean tartness this blend produced.

Added Yeast Bay Melange after 24 hours. I'll give it a month or so before racking onto 10# of frozen apricots (if I can ever find them) then another month or so before the keg.

Thanks again!

BilleR said...

In your notes on drinkability, you mention dialing back the acidity & apricot. How does stopping the kettle sour at a pH of 3.4 and using 2 cans of the apricot purée sound?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds about right to me, but your palate may vary. It was great as is, but a bit less acidity will make it more drinkable.

Unknown said...

Hi Mike,

I plan to make this recipe then force carb and bottle from a keg. Would you suggest waiting for a stable gravity before racking to fruit? If I add fruit at a similar timing you used, is there concern about the beer being on the fruit too long while waiting for a stable FG?


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Good idea to get stable gravity before adding fruit the first time bottling, especially with a blend of Brett strains like Dirty Dozen. With a pure strain, my timing would likely work, but with several strains you could see a slow drop as the more attenuative strains continue working. You could even just do 3711, the Brett isn't a major flavor contributor I suspect.

CRUSADER1612 said...

hey mike,
I have WLP670, was thinking this, type of recipe with the yeast, but no lacto.
essentially changing the hops to Simcoe/Amarillo and Using Pineapple instead of Apricots......


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

So brewing a completely different beer? :)

Should be fine, the rest of this batch was an IPA, so the base is fine for something that isn't sour. However, without the acidity from Lacto, I'd be inclined to give it 20-30 IBUs at the start of the boil.

I haven't used pineapple, but I know the proteolytic (protein munching) enzyme can cause trouble for body and head retention. Pasteurization would denature it.

Let me know how it goes!

CRUSADER1612 said...

WIll do. If it comes out well, you can give it a try, when you visit next year. (I heard a rumour your our guest speaker at the NZ Homebrew Conference)

but yeah different beer, inspired by this post.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Excited for the trip! Just need to figure out how long I can get off work to see the country!

CRUSADER1612 said...

You'll never want to leave.
Hopefully, you get enough time to travel round the country. If your in Christchurch let us know. Maybe we can organise a homebrew get together. (we have a Facebook page)
but I'll hit up up closer to the time. Cheers.
Rob H

Unknown said...

When racking onto the apricots did fermentation restart? Wouldn't this potentially dry out the beer too much or are you not worried about it with the brett?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Fermentation certainly restarts (which is a good thing because otherwise all those simple sugars would make the beer overly sweet). The water and sugar added will roughly balance out, so it will dilute the base beer slightly, but the alcohol wouldn't increase by much.

Charles Wiseman said...

Hey Mike,

I've got a can (3lbs) of apricot puree and am interested in doing something slightly similar to what you've got going on here. Basically a NEIPA grain bill, targeting 5% ABV, kettle soured with omega's lacto for 12-24 hours - until I hit roughly 3.4 pH, boiled and lightly hopped with citra + amarillo to about 25 IBU, and finally fermented with 1318 before being racked onto the puree/dry hopped.

Wanted to get your opinion on the use of a less attenuation strain like 1318 in this application. I'm thinking that the residual sweetness will play well with the tartness of the base and the fruitiness of the apricots, but obviously don't want to get into cloying territory. You mention that in your version, there's not much sweetness thanks to the brett basically eating anything they could get their hands on. Do you think this recipe would benefit from the extra sweetness, or should I entertain a more neutral/attenuative strain like US-05 or WLP090?

Thanks in advance, my man!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Sounds delicious to me! It won't have much sweetness, considering the acidity, and the fermentability of the fruit. Mine was really dry, especially compared to what some people enjoy, but a few points higher wouldn't drastically shift perception. Best of luck (let me know how it goes!)

Youngerama said...

Realize this thread is old... Made a clone of this with 100% brett mixed strain TYB Amalgamation II after souring with good belly Lacto. Lacto dropped pH to 3.6 after 24 hrs, brett took it to 3.21 after 10 days with FG 1.014. Added 1 can of apricot puree vintner's harvest to secondary with 1 vanilla bean split, 1 oz citra and amarillo and steeped at room temp for 72 hours. Re-fermentation occured so I kegged on day 3 and cold crashed with burst pressure psi. This beer is freaking incredible! I've never had anything like it. FG was 1.016 after puree addition at time of cold crashing. Thanks Mike, this beer is super good. I used the wheat flour addition as well and the head is lofty and persistent. final pH is 3.33. Used Crystal 10 in place of Carapils as I was out... - Austin, Pensacola, FL

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Cheers! Glad to hear!