We’re going to forgo this week’s Fast and Dirty Sours to present a new beer that’s gaining traction around my house: Dry Hopped Lambic.
With sour beers being “all the rage” these days, its almost required to keep experimenting with new methods, ingredients, yeast, and bacteria. Dry hopping sour beer isn’t a new thing, but dry hopping a multi year old lambic isn’t something every homebrewer is doing; hence this post. In my brewing experience, I’ve found that hop bitterness and sour beer don’t go together all too well. Not only does a high IBU wort inhibit the growth of lactobacillus, the resulting flavor from a brettanomyces and pediococcus fermentation doesn’t meld well with bitterness [in my opinion.] However, some hop flavors and aromas can go fantastic with a soured beer.
It was at the Great Alaska Beer and Barleywine Festival that I got to try my first taste of New Belgium’s Le Terroir. I’ve had several bottles of Cantillon’s Iris, but it hadn’t ever motivated me to work more hops into my wild brews. Le Terroir, on the other hand, which apparently actually “oozes terroir” is a tasty dry hopped sour beer with Galaxy and Amarillo hops. It was pretty tasty. Solid base beer and great aromatics to go with it. I went home that evening with an idea – order a ton of hops and try dry hopping some of the Lambic I have on hand.
A few months later, I found myself with several pounds of Citra, Amarillo, and Denali hops that were begging to be used. I held off on my order too long and wasn’t able to nab Galaxy at the time. I’d like to try them, rumor has it Galaxy is so fantastic it would even taste amazing with rabbit turds. I decided to take the remainder of a keg I had of v3 (about 1.5 gallons) and added equal parts of the Citra, Amarillo, and Denali hops totaling (whoops) 2 oz.
Fast forward four days later, I had re-kegged the newly dry hopped v3 and tasted. Waaaay too much hop flavor (hence the whoops.)
I let the keg rest for another few days under pressure and let the residual hop matter settle out. Finding the beer almost “too” hoppy, I went for a blend of 1/3 Dry Hopped v3 to 2/3 Unblended. The result was great. I spoke with Ed Coffey of Ales of the Riverwards and he mentioned he’s been using 1.5-2oz per 5 gallon batch for dry hopped sour beers. Sounds like I’ll need to blend mine down a bit further.
Appearance is ever so slightly hazy, but a lovely light golden color. Head is present but retention is low. Typical.
Aromas are still strong, despite the blend. Smells like a hop garden with emphasis on lemony citrus notes. I might even think about blending this down further. Hop aroma drowns out most of the sourness. Tropical fruits dominate – pineapple, mango, with some stone fruit – yet a tad strong on the herb notes.
It tastes pretty darn great. Still quite a bit of hop flavor, but I think it will fade to a more pleasant level over the next few weeks. I did overhop it with the intention of entering it in a “Sour IPA” competition at the end of April. Some floral notes. A medium strong acidity is still present, as with low levels of clean brettanomyces funk.
Mouthfeel is great. Good carbonation, a light dryness. Sourness takes the place where bitterness would be. I’m happy.
Other notes: The floral/herb notes in the dry hopping are just a tad to strong to make this a beer I would hunt down. I’m going to take a bottle to my good friend Scott when I visit him on the Big Island tomorrow. He’s a sour beer fanatic and the person responsible for my venture down the sour path years ago. We’ll see what he says.