May 17, 2015

Belgian Brown Sour Batch 1

This brown ale is the first brew for my sour blending project. It was originally crafted for a prior blended beer with brettanomyces that turned out pleasant enough that I thought it deserved a spot in this new project. This brown ale doesn't fit in any classic style. It's not quite a dubbel although it proudly uses a Belgian trappist strain (WY 1214) and special B but without candy syrup or other crystal malts typical for the style. It's not hoppy enough to be an American brown ale and lacks pretty much anything aside from the color that resembles an English brown ale. So it's a Belgian brown ale by default. I am unconcerned with the style identification of this beer; I only point this out to avoid misleading anybody into believing this is a sour dubbel recipe.

This beer will play the role of one of the core beers in my sour blending process by providing acidity, malt character and brett complexity. As discussed in the introductory post to the project, each beer brings distinct elements so they can be blended together across a wide range of flavor profiles, ABV, color and body. This beer will be the easiest to acidify as it is the lightest on IBUs and ABV although the grain bill and yeast flavor compounds will provide a flavor profile similar to but distinct from Flemish reds.

For this batch I am taking up a new (for me) approach to souring this beer. I am pitching WY 1214 and a starter of lactobacillus grown from lactobacillus acidophilus pills I picked up at a local health food store. I know a number of people have had good luck sourcing lactobacillus this way and it is good insurance that the beer will develop some sourness as I do not have enough sour beers on hand to culture enough dregs for a five gallon batch. I will be massively underpitching the brett, pedio and whatever else is in the dregs. I do not expect brett to find a problem picking up steam and fermenting out this beer but I am concerned that the beer won't sour sufficiently without some extra help and the lactobacillus pitch in the beginning will go a long way towards that goal.

The lactobacillus comes from a bottle of straight lactobacillus acidophilus in which each pill supposedly has one billion cells. I pitched four pills into a 500 ml starter of 1.030 wort approximately twenty four hours ahead of pitching everything into the wort. I am not entirely sure how much growth I will get but as long as I can get the cells active and healthy they will be in good shape to compete with the yeast.

Sour Belgian Brown Ale Recipe

Batch size: 5.5 gallons
Est. OG: 1.050
Est. FG:1.010
Est. ABV: 5.3%
Est. IBU: 13
Est. SRM: 16

Grain Bill

45% 4 lb. 12 oz. U.S. pale malt (2 SRM)
26% 2 lb. 12 oz. Munich malt (9 SRM)
23.7% 2 lb. 8 oz. Vienna malt (3.5 SRM)
3.6% 6 oz. Special B (180 SRM)
1.7% 3 oz. Black patent malt (500 SRM)

Water Profile

Water profile designed on amber malty profile in Bru'n Water

Mash Water - 4.49 gal | Mash ph 5.4

Gypsum 1g
Epsom salt 0.9g
Canning salt 0.5g
Calcium chloride 1.8g
Chalk 0.5g

Sparge Water - 4 gal

Gypsom 0.9g
Epsom salt 0.8g
Canning salt 0.4g
Calcium chloride 1.6g

Mash Schedule

Single decoction schedule
Mash in 4.49 gal at 158F for 150F rest for 40 minutes
Decoct 2.82 qt and raise to boil
Add decoction to raise to 158F for 35 minutes

Boil Schedule

60 minute boil
0.25 oz. Belma [12.10% AAU] at 60 minutes
0.15 oz. Belma [12.10% AAU] at 20 minutes

Fermentation Schedule

Pitch 1.7 liter starter of WY1214 and 500 ml starter of lactobacillus grown from four tablets of l. acidophilus at 65F and hold for 24 hours
Free rise to 75F for remainder of fermentation
Pitch bottle dregs when fermentation is complete

Brewday & Fermentation Notes

Brewed 4/4/15
First runnings: 1.070
Preboil gravity: 1.035
Preboil volume 7.6 gal
Mash efficiency: 80%
Postboil gravity: 1.055
Postboil volume: 5.25 gal

Pitched lactobacillus around 120F during cooling and let cool at ambient. Pitched yeast when cooled to 70F approximately six hours later.

4/10/15: Gravity 1.009

5/6/15: Added approximately 50ml of slurry of Oregon Special (mix of dregs from Ale Apothecary Sahalie, Double Mountain Tahoma Kriek, Anchorage Andronomous, Deschutes Armory, De Garde Desay Petit)

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