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How do you ferment your sour beers?


read 2873 times • 94 replies • posted 12/10/2013 9:19:09 AM

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HornyDevil
Curious as to how all you guys who brew sour beer do it. Hereís how I do it.

Simple grainbill - usually Pils and Oats for light colored bases and Munich and some specialty crystal type malts for darker colored bases.

Mash high - around 158F for an hour

No hops - at least no hops at all in the kettle or during cooling.

Homoferment - Brett, lacto, and pedio all go in at the same time. No saccharomyces strains at all.

Ferment base beer for 8 weeks - Just so Brett finishes off all the fermentables

Rack onto fruit or bottle - I usually let the beer sit on the fruit for a minimum of 6 months, but I do sometimes go longer

Rack off of fruit - I try to let the beer condition off of the fruit for at least a couple weeks before bottling

Bottle Condition - I bottle the same as I do any other beer, about a fourth of a cup of cane sugar for every 2 gallons of finished beer. I usually allow the beer to carbonate for 2 months before sampling.
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CLevar 376:10
I also used to think hops were not important.




I was wrong.
12/10/2013 10:26:32 AM

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HornyDevil
Originally posted by CLevar
I also used to think hops were not important.




I was wrong.


Care to expound upon that?

Anxious to hear why you think that they are so important in a style of beer that isnít at all about the hops.

Is it because "thatís how theyíve always done it" and "they" must be right because they were the first to do it?

Or is it because the minute addition of hops that do go into sour beers imbue some type of magical property that you just canít get in the finished without adding said ridiculously small and otherwise unnoticeable amount of hops?
12/10/2013 10:58:03 AM

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CLevar 376:10
Originally posted by HornyDevil
Originally posted by CLevar
I also used to think hops were not important.




I was wrong.


Care to expound upon that?

Anxious to hear why you think that they are so important in a style of beer that isnít at all about the hops.

Is it because "thatís how theyíve always done it" and "they" must be right because they were the first to do it?

Or is it because the minute addition of hops that do go into sour beers imbue some type of magical property that you just canít get in the finished without adding said ridiculously small and otherwise unnoticeable amount of hops?


You do know that itís not a "minute addition of hops", right? And that this decidedly not minute addition amount of hops (admittedly aged) does indeed impact microbial activity, flavor profiles, etc. right?
12/10/2013 11:14:04 AM

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HornyDevil
Originally posted by CLevar
Originally posted by HornyDevil
Originally posted by CLevar
I also used to think hops were not important.




I was wrong.


Care to expound upon that?

Anxious to hear why you think that they are so important in a style of beer that isnít at all about the hops.

Is it because "thatís how theyíve always done it" and "they" must be right because they were the first to do it?

Or is it because the minute addition of hops that do go into sour beers imbue some type of magical property that you just canít get in the finished without adding said ridiculously small and otherwise unnoticeable amount of hops?


You do know that itís not a "minute addition of hops", right? And that this decidedly not minute addition amount of hops (admittedly aged) does indeed impact microbial activity, flavor profiles, etc. right?


Why not be more specific, instead of being so purposefully vague with your answers?
12/10/2013 11:25:10 AM

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ekoerper 587:39
Before the argument gets rolling - Iím curious as well as to the benefits (and am in no way questioning said benefits).

I understand that in true spontaneous fermentation (which Iíve not yet attempted) the aged hops do keep undesirable microbes at bay. Is this much of a concern when pitching a culture (commercial or dregs) and no spontaneous fermentation is employed? Iíve gone both ways - one "traditional" lambic-esque recipe with aged hops, and a lower-gravity sour with the same culture but no hops (both use Wyeast lambic blend plus a substantial dose of dregs grown up in starters). The lambic knockoff is tasting pretty amazing ~9 months in - the light unhopped sour is only 3 weeks in, but is already far more sour than I expected.

Iím curious whether the bacteria got a bit out of hand in the unhopped sour due to lack of hops. I only pitched ~25 ml of mixed sour culture per 6-gal fermenter, and co-pitched ~50 ml of WLP001. Itís already sour enough that I wonít be surprised if blending is required to tame it a bit (and Iím not averse to serious sourness).
12/10/2013 11:33:30 AM

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HornyDevil
Originally posted by ekoerper
the aged hops do keep undesirable microbes at bay.


Do they?

How do they do that if their acids have completely degraded and that is the only way that hops are anti-microbial? Additionally, how does one inhibit only the undesirable microbes, leaving only the ones which are desirable? The answer is that you donít.

Adding hops to a sour beer is silly. All that they do is inhibit the one microbe that you actually WANT to proliferate in your beer. Lactobacillus. Which is VERY sensitive to both alpha & beta acids and alcohol content, which is the reason that aged hops are used in the first place, because aged hops donít have any acids and, therefor, donít have any anti-microbial properties.
12/10/2013 11:46:47 AM

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JulienHuxley 2947:249
In my (very limited) experience, I recall having an eye opening moment when I smelled the difference between american aged hops and belgian aged hops. I donít know the specifics to the technique, but the american aged hops (from freshops) smelled of very faint, dusty, grassy hops - aged. The belgian ones (that I got at a local micro which is putting out some world class sours at the moment) downright stunk of old cheese, gym socks, and sweat i.e. typical lambic aromas. I canít tell you what methods differ, or how much impact that actually has on the beer, but I can tell you that those hops actually smelled like lambic, which might indicate that they play a more important role than we might think in the end result of lambic.
12/10/2013 11:53:14 AM

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HornyDevil
Originally posted by ekoerper
Iím curious whether the bacteria got a bit out of hand in the unhopped sour due to lack of hops. I only pitched ~25 ml of mixed sour culture per 6-gal fermenter, and co-pitched ~50 ml of WLP001. Itís already sour enough that I wonít be surprised if blending is required to tame it a bit (and Iím not averse to serious sourness).


Souring happens pretty quickly, as lactobacillus is one of the first bacteria to act and then once the pH gets to a certain point, it stops working and leaves the rest of the souring work to pediococcus. The reason that traditional sour beers are aged for so long is to allow for Brettanomyces to mature the beer and give it complexity. Brett is also an excellent oxygen scavenger, which protects the beer as it ages and acquires said complexity. This is, very obviously, an oversimplification of the actual microbial activity in sour beer, but those three are the major players in the fermentation profile of sour beers.
12/10/2013 11:54:20 AM

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t0rin0 62:1315
Originally posted by HornyDevil
Originally posted by ekoerper
the aged hops do keep undesirable microbes at bay.


Do they?

How do they do that if their acids have completely degraded and that is the only way that hops are anti-microbial? Additionally, how does one inhibit only the undesirable microbes, leaving only the ones which are desirable? The answer is that you donít.

Adding hops to a sour beer is silly. All that they do is inhibit the one microbe that you actually WANT to proliferate in your beer. Lactobacillus. Which is VERY sensitive to both alpha & beta acids and alcohol content, which is the reason that aged hops are used in the first place, because aged hops donít have any acids and, therefor, donít have any anti-microbial properties.



Its the alpha acids vs beta acids thing. Alpha degrades over time, beta does not. Thatís why the lambic brewers use the old hops, even if they didnt know exactly what was going on when they started. The point was to get the acid without getting the flavor or bitterness. Hopefully someone has a link (with some actual scientific data) they can provide because I dont.
12/10/2013 11:54:34 AM

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HornyDevil
Originally posted by JulienHuxley
In my (very limited) experience, I recall having an eye opening moment when I smelled the difference between american aged hops and belgian aged hops. I donít know the specifics to the technique, but the american aged hops (from freshops) smelled of very faint, dusty, grassy hops - aged. The belgian ones (that I got at a local micro which is putting out some world class sours at the moment) downright stunk of old cheese, gym socks, and sweat i.e. typical lambic aromas. I canít tell you what methods differ, or how much impact that actually has on the beer, but I can tell you that those hops actually smelled like lambic, which might indicate that they play a more important role than we might think in the end result of lambic.


So . . . those hops had some of the same aromas as does Brettanomyces?
12/10/2013 11:56:04 AM

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