sours in the night

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Giving it both barrels: five gallons of 2011 sour (really, really sour … plus dark and oaky) red comes off the wood and onto 5 pounds of rhubarb, five gallons of Basecamp Sour (alcoholic fermentation complete, sir) begins its oak nap.

Like ships in the night, these two separate but similar beers pass each other so closely but never quite manage to hook up. They would be so good together, but it’s like they just can’t see it because they’re at such different stages in their lives. Will they ever meet again and, you know … consummate? I hope so – I like brewing stories to have a happy ending.

sour times

Sitting over coffee and prepping notes for a talk on sour beers for Better Beer Society University, I have mixed-culture fermentations on the brain and some raw materials to work with.

Raw material #1: Last summer I racked a nice, clean red ale base beer into an oak barrel and inoculated it with Wyeast’s Roeselare blend; 13 months on, it’s ready for … something. Cherries? Blending? Straight-up bottling? Whatever its fate, I need some fresh wort to fill that buggy barrel no matter what.

Raw material #2: Earlier this year a Brewing TV viewer provided some friends and I with a washed Brett culture from a bottle of Russian River Sanctification. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

Raw material #3: a couple pounds of frozen-ass Chernaya Lisovenko blackcurrants from Mary Dirtyface Farm. So I got that going for me, which is nice.

All this can only mean one thing: it’s about to get acidic up in this piece.

The plan: 10 gallons of base beer, split half and half between the to-be-emptied barrel and the Sanctification Brett and the blackcurrants (Russian River, Russian fruit – I love symmetry). Do something cool with the 2011 ale from the oak … I’d tell you now, but then I’d have to get you blackout drunk so you wouldn’t remember.

Recipe deets below, brew day to follow. Stay tuned.

Basecamp Sour 2012
Targets: OG 1.052, 7 SRM, 18 IBU

Grist

  • 16 lbs pilsen

Simple is good …

Mash: Flemish Sour regimen

  • 122F for 20″, 145F for 30″, 162F for 20″, 170F for 10″

… but complex is sometimes necessary. A high-temp alpha sacch’ rest will create plenty dextrin for the Brett to chomp on. Truth in advertising: I’m using up a stock of shamefully old undermodified Pils malt with this mash, elsewise the lack of unmalted adjunct grain would arguably make the 122F rest unnecessary for what these beers are going to be.

Boil

  • 1 lb D-45 Belgian candi syrup @ 60″
  • 1.5 oz German Brewer’s Gold (6.5%aa pellets) @ 60″

Fermentation

  • BRY97 primary for barrel portion – a nice, clean base beer for the acid bacteria now living in the wood to work with.
  • Russian River culture for the second portion – all Brett, all the time.