the imp of the perverse

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Picture it, citizens: there I was, minding my business, bench-trialing and blending some more- and less-aged sour beer into a semblance of a whole, when the imp of the perverse called an audible.

Let’s back up – the day and hour had arrived that these two ships passing in the night were finally going to get it on, an involved and tangential and hyperlink-intensive metaphor for the blending and packaging of Be Kind Northland, constituted of a smaller portion of older, redder, nastier Jan Roten 2011 – which had spent a bit over a year in an oak barrel with bugs from Wyeast Roeselare Blend and then an additional two months out of the barrel and on rhubarb – with a larger portion of the younger, blonder, milder Basecamp Sour 2012, just coming up on two months in the Roeselare-inoculated barrel so recently vacated.

Basecamp was just sour enough to be a wild beer but not so far gone as to be untamed – the buttery beginnings of some Brett, some lactic Braxton-Hicks contractions hinting at the acid child forming therein and promised by the months to come. Jan Roten was, well, the best kind of rotten … like Satan ate a bowl full of Great Lakes-kissed Montmorency cherries and personally spat each pit at your epiglottis. Stained bloody with oak and age and red rhubarb stalks, the leavings of bacteria and cold-weather produce alike ganging up on the taste buds: too much on its own, but great to have on your side in a fight – or in a blend.

So I had determined the proportions I wanted and siphoned the required into the same waiting keg, with the unused remainder of each beer going back onto the rhubarb slurry together to wait for another victim. The keg was full, it was ready to be sealed. Then the imp of the perverse – as Neal Stephenson calls it, but sometimes I think of it as my inner Chip Walton – called that audible:

“Watchoo know about more fruit, ninja? You might could oughta put some frozen cranberries and some frozen strawberries in a mesh bag and throw it in the keg! They’re right over there in the freezer! Do it!”

And I thought: “Well, it is called ‘Be Kind Northland,’ and it would be rude to argue … I’ll just go along with it now and quietly seethe about it later like a proper Upper-Midwesterner.”

A bit of time for the blend to marry, then carbonation, then tasting. Stay tuned.

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19 thoughts on “the imp of the perverse

  1. Question… You’ve spoke of not crossing “bugged” equipment (tubing,airlock,autosiphon) with your common fermentations. What is your procedure with kegging equipment? Or even fermentors? Not to worry about glass or stainless? If no (or yes) then what about the tubing used to dispense from a keg, designate specific as well?

    • This keg will be a sour keg from now on (although it could switch back with a thorough breakdown and cleaning, plus replacement of all the o-rings) – ditto all the liquid-side fittings and tubing.

  2. Just curious, MD, was this inspired by New Glarus’s most recent sour invention, Serendipity? Or just the impish fruit in the freezer itching to get into some homebrew?

    • Maybe in the recesses of the subconscious; sadly, I have yet to actually try Serendipity … less excuses to get to WI when trout season is closed.

      • I just tried it this weekend at Rumpus Room in Milwaukee. The bartender, whom we for some reason named “Dragon” did not warn me of the champagne flute style glass he would serve it in which earned me a far cooler nickname for the remainder of the evening… Tasty beer though!

  3. Render unto Stephenson the things that are Stephenson’s, and unto Poe the things that are Poe’s. That said, I’m reading The Diamond Age now, and it rocks. Also, hey, beer!

  4. “Braxton-Hicks contractions hinting at the acid child forming therein”

    I come here for beer and I get poetry. Sweet.

  5. Mr. Dawson,
    I am hoping you can guide me in the ways of sour beer/re-using sour cakes. Inspired by a love of all things funky and your sour beer episode of BTV I have brewed up a Oud Bruin with Wyeast Roeselare. It has been in primary for two weeks and now I can’t decide what direction to take it. I have been reading some polarizing opinions on the next step on the www’s. Should I leave this in primary on the cake for the entire 18-24 month souring process? Should I transfer to secondary? I know on BTV you all suggested re-using the cakes but should that be my primary cake or secondary cake? Whatever cake I pitch onto should I primary that beer with a straight up sacc strain first or use fresh wort? Thank you for everything you have done already to kickstart my young homebrewing career. Looking forward to the future here on the beer engine.

    • Just speaking from personal experience, I’ve had best luck with long primaries for the souring process, then transferring once it’s soured and ready to age on fruit or what have you. For reusing the cake with fresh wort or fermented beer, it just depends on whether you want fermentation with something other than Brett. and bugs; again, from personal experience I’ve had best luck with wort fermented with a sachh’ strain first and then inoculated with the cake. Good luck!

  6. Sour beer but sweet words. You have a way. Periscope a gravity reading? Either way, sounds heavy. Heavy like taking a reading from kool-aid I might have made as a youth.

  7. Pingback: TMBR: Be Kind Northland | the beer engine

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