Monday, February 13, 2017

Extract Lambic Tasting (Plus Peaches)

Drinking malt-extract-based lambic outside.Over my first 10 years of brewing "lambic-inspired" pale sours, I found that the more authentic my process became, the more authentic the flavors produced. The balance and aromatics improved as I turbid mashedaged hops, introduced local wild microbes with gueuze bottle dregs, etc. I wondered what the beer would be like if I stripped back the sugar-extraction to the basics? I'd brewed sour beers from malt extact before (but with beach plums, blackberries, and dark malts). This lambic recipe was nothing but dry malt extract (Pils and wheat) and maltodextrin to provide carbohydrates brewer's yeast is unable to ferment.

Brewed the day of Super Bowl 49, I opened the last bottle of the base lambic right before kickoff of Super Bowl 51. Didn't look like it had much luck in it for Tom Brady until a couple hours later... I served most of the batch at the BYO Burlington Boot Camp, the folks at the Santa Rosa edition in two weeks will be tasting and blending homebrewed dark sours. Not sure what beers we'll be using in Indianapolis this fall!

Golden Boy Lambic

Tom Brady deserves a beer.Smell – Overripe fruit, mild Brett funk comes across as hay (or is that the aged hops?). Overall mellow, but nothing off (e.g., vinegar, nail polish). At two-years-old it is still bright and vibrant.

Appearance – Crystal clear gold. Towards the darker end of gueuze, but not outside the range. White head stays around for a couple minutes, before falling completely.

Taste – Nice little lemon brightness. Mellow lactic acidity. Brett is similar to the nose, hay, mineral, and fresh soil. Relatively clean and approachable. Not much depth.

Mouthfeel – Medium carbonation, mouthfeel is fuller than usual, maybe the lack of oak tannins.

Drinkability & Notes – A lambic with training wheels both in terms of production and flavor. Not convinced those two are correlated.

Changes for Next Time – One of the nicer straight lambic blends I’ve used. Closest to Lindemans Gueuze Cuvée René, very approachable. Like many other blends Yeast Bay Mélange would benefit from some dregs from whatever “fresh” lambic you enjoy.

I love splitting batches, so when the above was ready to bottle summer 2016, I racked 2.5 gallons onto peaches... lots of local white peaches from the farmer's market. They were "ugly," so I was able to get 8 lbs for $8. There is something about peaches that translates so perfectly to sour beer (as I've found previously). While the aroma is delicate compared to most berries, peaches doesn't require nearly the rate I used to shine through.

White Peach Lambic on my new 24mm lens.White Peach Lambic

Smell – White peaches, unsurprisingly. Bold, fresh, juicy. Little hits of lemon and hay underneath, but stonefruit is first, second, and third.

Appearance – Similar color to the base beer, but not as clear. A few particles of peach flesh in the glass. Head is low and doesn’t last long, a sign of lacking carbonation in this case.

Taste – Snappier acidity than the base, thanks to the acids and nutritive sugars contributed by the fruit. Has a malic acidity, brighter and sharper than lactic. Lingering in the finish are the clearest signs of lambic, earthy, citrus, mild yeastiness, and maybe a hint of vanilla.

Mouthfeel – Light body, carbonation is low even for my preferences. It allows the peach to linger though. Glad it's gotten here, I was considering reyeasting the bottles a few months ago.

Drinkability & Notes – It is amazing that peaches purchased last summer and allowed a controlled rot rather than preserved (canned or frozen) can still taste so fresh! Fantastic true-peach flavor and aroma, but the base beer wasn’t up to the challenge in assertiveness. Delicious as a peach beer, a letdown as a peach lambic. Still a good fruit choice over cherry or raspberry that would have completely dominated the delicate Brett character.

Changes for Next Time – This one didn't carbonate as quickly as I would have liked, my fault for reyeasting with ale yeast rather than wine yeast. Similar to the notes on the base beer, a more assertive culture would create potent flavors to poke through the peaches.

Not as ugly as you’d expect for $1/lb at the farmer’s market!


Michaël said...

Fantastic brews! Did you do anything special with the peaches before racking on top of them? Cheers!

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I sliced the peaches, skin on, discarded the pits.

Paul Boutin said...

I was one of the lucky few to try the unfruited Golden Boy Lambic at the BYO Burlington Boot Camp. As I recall it was an excellent beer on its own. When I asked you about it you told me the other half was on peaches. I was expecting you would have fantastic results with the peaches.

Unknown said...

Will you be making an extract lambic again? I like the idea of a quick extract brew day but wonder if you think a longer all grain brew day produces superior end results.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I brewed another batch of extract lambic about a month ago. Added the rest of the maltodextrin leftover from this batch, plus some flour to the boil. Used aged homegrown hops, should be interesting!

Whether it is better is so difficult to say. Sours are so unreliable, fickle, and inconsistent. Even if you brewed two beers with identical microbes from the same wort and aged them next to each other they might not be the same after a year!

In general I'd rather spend a bit more time and effort given the commitment to aging. I'll say that I'm confident that wort production isn't a top three issue for sours. In that threshold I'd put: microbe selection, limiting oxygen during aging, and blending.

BrewerTom said...

I pretty much made the same thing following the Steve Piatz extract lambic recipe. I brewed it back in October and it's my first lambic. I used 3 ounces of aged hops I had and did an initial ferment with US-05. I transferred it to the secondary and added Wyeast lambic blend and also the dregs from a bottle of Cuvée Rene.

I'm really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

Robb Mc said...

Hey Mike!

Thank you very much for sharing your experimentations, findings, and stories.

I'm very curious as to what the final gravity @ bottling (or whatever you have) was on this extract & maltodextrin laced batch. Did the YB melange blend manage to get it below 1.010? My apologies if I missed this data.

Thanks again & cheers-

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I hadn't noted the FG, 1.005. Added to the notes! The maltodextrin added ~.003, so not clear if the microbes fermented it out or not.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted a tasting of the extract lambic because that post is what really got me interested in this site. Following your guidence, I made a 5 gallon batch a few months ago using slightly less maltodextrin and steeping some flaked wheat instead of using flour. The wyeast lambic blend and bottle dregs from 3 very tasty gueuzes seems to have everything on track, but there is still a good bit of time before I'll know for sure.

Have you ever added a new batch of wort on top of a used lambic yeast cake? Depending on how this one tastes I was considering it, since some bottles of gueuze are just so hard to come by.

Anyway, I really appreciate all the work you and have put into the site and the book and I found a lot of good ideas and inspiration.