Welcome back to the Fast and Dirty Sours series. Here we’ll cover batches 3 – 7.
The goal of a quick sour beer is entertaining to me. Most “fast sour” beers are simply that: sour beers. What I’ve been looking for are quick ways of making “Sour” Beers – however that term does include beers that are fermented with Brettanomyces and are often not sour at all. (I’ll stick to the term sour beer, but know that what I’m looking for is a drinkable beer with both sour and brettanomyces character.)
Soon after I started the F&D sour series I found myself busy prepping for my HomebrewCon talk, getting my house in order for child #2 (expected any day now), and trying to pour most of my efforts into learning about personal finance. I’m also working to help update the Milk the Funk “Getting Started” page, which I hope to have completed soon. Needless to say, I am deciding to give you updates on the last few batches of F&D sours all at once so as not to prolong writing about these crappy beers.
In the first several batches of this series, I found myself experimenting with different sources of yeast/microbes. Some of them were starters I grew and tasted nasty, so they never made it into an official “batch”. Others passed the starter test and found themselves in 2.5 gallons of wort, as always, a 60/40 blend of Pilsner and Wheat malt. Many are still to be tested, I’m kind of a yeast hoarder. In batches 3-6, I experimented with lactobacillus from yogurt, a lacto blend with “Bring on da Funk”, my Partial Eclipse blend, and a kombucha culture. Each one had its own special outcome. You’ll notice this post is titled batches 3-7, however – and we’ll discuss Batch 7 at the end.
Batch 3 used Lactobacillus from Yogurt as well as a blend of a farmhouse strain and brettanomyces brux I had from a previous beer. It was “cold side soured” after the boil using lactobacillus from yogurt (which I had grown on a stir plate for 3 days). After being “soured”, it was cooled and the blend of Farmhouse/Brett was added. After a month, this beer was what I called “Nothing Special.” It had a thin, very light one-dimensional sourness, and was very, very dry. I speculate the yogurt didn’t end up souring as much as I had thought it would, each sample I tried wasn’t very tart at all. My pH meter died so I didn’t take a reading. I ended up blending this beer with another sour beer that was a little “too much.” The blend is fine.
Batch 4 used Lactobacillus from grain, as well as the “Bring on da Funk” blend form Omega Labs. Using the same methods (although skipping the yogurt this time and using grain) the beer came out lightly sour, although it had a dirty/sweaty flavor to it, with a lot of dryness and astringency. It was also slightly sweet. This one I blame on the yeast possibly dying in transit. This yeast came during the ‘cooler’ months up here and I believe it spent a little too long in the mail truck/box. I never got a lot of carboy action out of this (although there was a little bit), and I think it eventually just sat there and decided to crap out bad flavors. I’m calling it a failure based on yeast. Dumped.
Batch 5 used my Partial Eclipse blend of brettanomyces and had really great sourness. However, while I was on vacation in April the airlock went dry. (The air here can be very dry.) Judging from the oxidized flavors, astringency, and armpit flavors I tasted/spat out, I dubbed it a “whoops.” Dumped.
Batch 6 used Kombucha Dregs I had from a tasty bottle of kombucha. I stepped them up slowly. Each stepping yielded a tasty few ounces so I pitched them into a 2 gallon batch. The result was disgusting. Dirt, bile, moss, etc. Nothing great. If I was going to do this again, I’d try using a Scoby from someone rather than stepping them myself. (A friend of mine used dregs to make his scoby, which is why I thought this would work.)
This brings us to Batch 7.
Batch 7 was brewed only two weeks ago. I received a generous portion of Funk Weapon #2 from a brew buddy Matt of “To Brew a Beer.” The first starter tasted delicious and it revitalized my desire to brew beer using a stir plate. As I’ve mentioned before, many of the starters I’ve made go down the hatch and taste great. So I brewed a one gallon batch, this time using some oats and a bit less wheat. I hoped the oats would provide some more body that I was wishing I had in a few of the earlier versions. I brewed the batch and let it sit on a stir plate for 7 days. Afterwards, I crash cooled and carbonated using a carb-cap and served from a 2L plastic bottle (something I was a little too well known for at HomebrewCon). It should be noted in the tasting that the first time I stepped it up I let it ride too long on the stir plate and it got extremely acetic, undrinkably so. I didn’t decant as well as I should have and some of that acidity did make it into the final beer in a level slightly higher than I would have liked.
The results? Not bad. Not bad at all. Actually this beer is pretty good. Definitely tastes young, but summertime-crushable.
Aroma is grainy with light overripe tropical fruit. “Punchy ripeness” (from the Bootleg Bio page) fits this appropriately. Some acetic acid (as noted above). A light doughiness.
Appearance is hazy, probably from the oats. I didn’t fine this batch. I plan to next time.
Flavor is pleasant. Light doughiness, some acidity, comes across to me as lemonesque. No hop bitterness. Light acetic notes. Normally I can’t stand acetic, but in this beer it works in tandem with some lactic-flavored acidity. It’s not perfect by any means, but is really quite pleasant for a week and a half out, being 6% ABV, and having not been kettle-soured.
Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a medium dry finish. This water profile is the same as the one I used in Amerihops, which I feel helps smooth this otherwise harsh beer out.
Overall, I’m quite happy with how this came out, especially given the nastiness of some of the previous batches. What’s next for the F&D Sours? I’m going to continue my stir plate method, perhaps with an overnight “flask sour” in the future if it doesn’t end up as sour as I’d like. I plan on testing various strains and messing with my malt bill slightly. I’m also enjoying kind of using the NEIPA style malt/water profile, just without all the hops: crushable, yet complex.