First try @ brewing Gueuze. Few questions

Reads 1825 • Replies 16 • Started Tuesday, July 28, 2015 9:56:36 AM CT

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Jdizzle1
beers 2 º 09:56 Tue 7/28/2015

Well, first go at this awesome style, and I’ve just a few questions to put out there.

I’ll give background first.

I brewed a mid gravity wort ( 1.052) w/ the addition of wheat. Did a Partial mash, used three week old baked hops. (70g) ended up being 3.2 gallons. I did primary w/ basic ale yeast in plastic bucket. Then transferred onto oak chips in 6 gallon glass carboy. Pitched White labs Sour Blend. Brewed bout 4 weeks ago.

Is the excess head space in the fermenter going to hurt the brew?

Also, noticed a pellicle forming. I’ve read this is normal. What can I realistically expect? Something gruesome?

I tasted recently and noticed that "Brett" flavours had developed, what time frame does it usually take the sourness to develop?

Everyone says it’s a waiting game, but would it really be possible to wait 12 months and have something that is undrinkable?



Any thoughts, tips pointers would be appreciated. I’m really keen to make a solid Gueuze.

Thx

 
skinnyguy
10:35 Tue 7/28/2015

The pellicle will protect against any excess headspace. It is formed to allow regulation of oxygen. It can sometimes look a little like mold, sometimes thick and ropey, etc.



A Gueuze is typically a blend of several vintages of lambic (often one year, two year and three year), so you’ll need to give it lots of time (and brew again in a year). Twelve months is porbably not sufficient for lambic, the best character often takes more like two years.



It is entirely possible that you can end up with something undrinkable after a year. But with beers that age: if it doesn’t taste good, give it more time. There are strong ales that can be nearly undrinkable after two weeks, and divine after a year. I’ve had sour beers that I nearly dumped after a year, and they were delicious after two.



My primary tip for sours is to keep brewing them. Don’t wait until your batches are close to ready. Brew them every six months so you have a solid pipeline. And then you have more available for blending to get the precise profile you want. If your current batch turns out great, save those oak cubes and add them to another batch.

 
ekstedt
beers 7884 º places 350 º 13:02 Tue 7/28/2015

A lot to be said about the subject but her are some short notes...

1. You don’t brew geuze, you brew (and ferment) lambic. Different vintages of lambic may be blended into a geuze.
2. Brew an a regular basis, at least 2-4 batches a year.
3. Leave the beers alone while waiting for the fermentation to progress. Take samples very sparsely. There is no point in tasting during the first three months, I would recommend waiting 6 months before the first sample.
4. Use bottle dregs instead of mixed cultures from yeast labs, or at least in combination. A small pitch of saccharomyces together with dregs from two 75 cl gueze bottles or an equivalent is all you need.
5. Use oak chips with moderation. French oak only, pre-boiled, around 1 g/l or so.

 
CLevar
places 23 º 20:35 Tue 7/28/2015

Originally posted by skinnyguy
My primary tip for sours is to keep brewing them. Don’t wait until your batches are close to ready. Brew them every six months so you have a solid pipeline. And then you have more available for blending to get the precise profile you want. If your current batch turns out great, save those oak cubes and add them to another batch.


If you are serious about brewing sour beers- Heed this advice.

 
DA
places 1 º 21:13 Tue 7/28/2015

Also, I’d advise against doing primary with ale yeast first, just do lambic dregs. Try to limit head space if possible on the long term aged ones.

 
Jdizzle1
beers 2 º 03:17 Wed 7/29/2015

When I save the oak chips, how should they be maintained? Should I prob just wash them, but not sterilise them. Is that about right? Also I have dregs from a few Cantillon Krieks, I don’t have enough bottles of Reg Gueuze to get sufficient dregs. Any thoughts on using Kriek dregs to get fermentation started?

 
GarethYoung
beers 1111 º places 27 º 03:36 Wed 7/29/2015

What was the gravity when you added the sour blend? You’ll need a decent amount of sugar left for the brettanomyces and pediococcus to work on. If there isn’t enough acidity after 3 months, I’d add a bit of maltodextrin.

Adding saccharomyces is a good idea, but you should co-pitch with a lot of lambic bugs at the beginning of primary. To get a characterful beer of this style, you need a wide variety of the right sort of micro-organisms. I never use commercial blends, only bottle dregs. I’d strongly recommend having a session with as many lambics and possible, collecting all the dregs from the good ones, then sticking them in your beer.

A pellicle at 4 weeks is a little concerning. It indicates there’s oxygen in there which can lead to acetic acid, or increased levels of ethyl acetate (which smells like nail polish in high quantities). I’d advise flushing the headspace with Co2, or, maybe better, adding more wort along with your dregs which will both feed the micro-organisms and flush the headspace with fermentation.

You don’t need to add oak chips and you shouldn’t transfer the beer to secondary - just leave it on the yeast for the entire fermentation.

Your beer shouldn’t taste bad after 12 months, if you added a good blend of microbes, but these beers are often hard to predict.

I’m a fan of maturing these things in the bottle, rather than a bucket/carboy, so I’d bottle these once the gravity is stable in 3-6 months. It minimises oxygen uptake.

I wouldn’t bother baking hops in the future - they’re not at all the same as aged hops. I’d either age some, or just use normal hops. The difference between aged and normal doesn’t make a huge difference (though it will make some difference).

Finally, and pedantically, you can’t make lambic, or gueuze, outside of Belgium, by definition.

 
HornyDevil
05:45 Wed 7/29/2015

Wow . . . lots to say here. Since Gareth brought up a lot of the topics that I was going to, I’ll just comment on what he had to say.

Originally posted by GarethYoung
What was the gravity when you added the sour blend? You’ll need a decent amount of sugar left for the brettanomyces and pediococcus to work on. If there isn’t enough acidity after 3 months, I’d add a bit of maltodextrin.


Though Brettanomyces and Pediococcus will certainly ferment sugar that you add after primary fermentation, if you want your beer to increase in sourness after a period of time, adding starch will be your best bet, as Brettanomyces cannot metabolize it, but pediococcus can, thus leading to additional souring.

Originally posted by GarethYoung
Adding saccharomyces is a good idea, but you should co-pitch with a lot of lambic bugs at the beginning of primary. To get a characterful beer of this style, you need a wide variety of the right sort of micro-organisms. I never use commercial blends, only bottle dregs. I’d strongly recommend having a session with as many lambics and possible, collecting all the dregs from the good ones, then sticking them in your beer.


This is good advice as microbial diversity is key in achieving complexity in beers like this. However, the importance to adding Saccharomyces to these fermentations should be specified. If you want more Brettanomyces character in your finished beer, you must add Sacch. so that you will have more phenolic precursors for the Brett to decarboxylate and reduce into the compounds (4 ethyl guaiacol in particular) that are responsible for that character. Brettanomyces won’t make enough of those compounds on its own. That’s why 100% Brett fermentations tend to have less Brett character.

Originally posted by GarethYoung
A pellicle at 4 weeks is a little concerning. It indicates there’s oxygen in there which can lead to acetic acid, or increased levels of ethyl acetate (which smells like nail polish in high quantities). I’d advise flushing the headspace with Co2


Agreed 100%. I’d advise racking this beer to a less oxygen permeable environment, like a glass carboy with a silicon stopper and airlock.

Originally posted by GarethYoungI’m a fan of maturing these things in the bottle, rather than a bucket/carboy, so I’d bottle these once the gravity is stable in 3-6 months. It minimises oxygen uptake


Agreed as well. Especially when looking specifically at his process in this beer. The less oxygen at this point (or any point, for that matter) the better.

Originally posted by GarethYoung
I wouldn’t bother baking hops in the future - they’re not at all the same as aged hops. I’d either age some, or just use normal hops. The difference between aged and normal doesn’t make a huge difference (though it will make some difference).


Or just don’t add any hops at all. I know that someone will bring up how Brettanomyces can metabolize the glycosides in hops, but I think that it is worth it to ensure acidity.

Originally posted by GarethYoung
Finally, and pedantically, you can’t make lambic, or gueuze, outside of Belgium, by definition.


True, from an appellation standpoint, but lambic is less about geography and more about process. You can’t brew a lambic without a turbid mash, "spontaneous" inoculation in a coolship, primary fermentation and aging in barrels, and then blending of those barrels to produce the end product.

 
ekstedt
beers 7884 º places 350 º 06:55 Wed 7/29/2015

Originally posted by Jdizzle1
When I save the oak chips, how should they be maintained? Should I prob just wash them, but not sterilise them. Is that about right? Also I have dregs from a few Cantillon Krieks, I don’t have enough bottles of Reg Gueuze to get sufficient dregs. Any thoughts on using Kriek dregs to get fermentation started?


Kriek dregs would be fine.

 
ekstedt
beers 7884 º places 350 º 07:00 Wed 7/29/2015

And to continue on the baked hops issue, after 18 p-lambic batches, only one failed to sour properly, and that happened when I tried (plenty of) owen baked hops. They still had to much alpha acid, and the beer ended up non-sour and semi bitter around 30 IBU i would guess. I have a pound or so waiting to be aged, but until then I use about 1-2 g/l of low alpha hops, ending up with around 15 IBU.

 
Jdizzle1
beers 2 º 07:24 Wed 7/29/2015

So a pellicle after just 4-5 weeks could be bad? If I were to brew say another gallon of mid strength wort, would that maybe take care of the head space problem? Am I right in thinking it would also feed the dregs?

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