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04/17/09 01:00 AM  
Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian? The FG is 1.030 and I would like to sour and oak it.

From what I have read the high ABV can inhibit the growth of bugs.

I have an blonde and amber that could be blended with it to bring the alcohol down to a more favorable level if that is the only way to inspire growth.

Thanks for the help.

04/17/09 01:20 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
I am planning on building up dregs from Orval, Peterus Aged Pale and Rodenbach.


04/17/09 06:58 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
Well, brett can sour, your beer is on the low side compared to wine and wine makers fear brett. Also, I mentioned in Al's Flanders red thread that Rodenbach Vin de Cereale is 10%. So there is precident.
04/17/09 11:36 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
Shouldn't be a problem. There are several commercial sour beers in that strength range, and many of us here have made them.

I made a 10% with brett brux last year, this year I have another 10% with russian river bugs, a small batch of 11% with russian river bugs, and an 11.5% with Al's bugfarm in it. Still to early to tell, but they're at least starting to smell pretty good. The small batch has a gnarly pellicle on it too.

04/17/09 01:13 PM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
Given enough time and the right bugs you could definitly sour that...
04/17/09 11:03 PM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
What bugs would you add?

Does adding dregs from Orval, Peterus Aged Pale and Rodenbach sound like a good idea? Or should I hit the LHBS and get some WLP Brett?

Thanks guys.

04/18/09 05:30 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
i have a braggot thats about 11.5% its only had buggs added a few months but it seems to be souring judging from the smell.
04/18/09 12:48 PM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
I would shoot for something like cantillon...the things that survive in those dregs are real potent and create a lot of acid, and they're pretty alcohol tollerant.

I tried dregs from petrus pale and didn't get much. Never tried orval, but that's not very sour, more musty and funky, and rodenbach is now pasteurized.

And put it somewhere warm for the summer to really help get the souring bugs active.

Mike T
04/20/09 09:59 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
It is certainly possible, but many strains of lactic acid bacteria will be killed by 9.5% ABV. I did a ~12.5% double oud bruin last year. After 6 months of aging it dropped from 1.040 to 1.020, and had some good funk, but not more than a hint of sourness.

You way want to blend in a lower gravity sour ale to up the acidity (as some brewers of big sour ales do).

Good luck.

04/20/09 10:23 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
What kind of head space should I leave?

Mike T - What did you add to yours to get the funk?


04/20/09 10:48 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
I did an experimental sour beer a couple of years ago - basically I attempted to make a 17% abv flemish red kinda beer, and to make a long story short it only got to about 11.5 abv with a final gravity of about 1042. The beer was primaried with WL sour blend (and their super high grav yeast) and after about a year it was not too sour. After adding dregs from cantillon and fantome and maybe oud beersel, the beer got intensely sour. With all of the residual sugar I decided the beer was beyond the point of no return, as the souring bugs just kept going. I ended up blending a portion of that with a russian imperial stout, and the rest with young flemish red.

I discussed this with resident BBBug man Al B once. What he told me made a lot of sense... the strains of bacteria that survive in beers like cantillon are very old and well established. They've been living in an alcoholic environment for a long time. So adding to a beer with some more alcohol is really not an issue for these bugs because they're VERY hardy already. I agree with Mike that any WL or WY culture wouldn't stand a chance being pitched into your beer. But if you use dregs which contain some of those robust, well established cultures they can be quite tenacious, even in an envirtonment with higher alcohols.

Mike T
04/20/09 11:02 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
Here are all the details on it: http://madfermentationist.blogspot.com/2008/04/big-funky-beers.html

It was pitched onto the primary yeast cake from a Flanders Red. The Red got a pack of US-05 and a starter made from the dregs of a bottle of Lost Abbey’s Red Poppy. I also pitched in the dregs from a bottle of Beatification after about a week.

After the gravity stopped dropping I blended in a bit of commercial and homebrewed sour ales to up the acidity.

I’d say the more things you add the better, you are bound to add something that can survive in those conditions.

04/20/09 11:21 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
Mike, just looked at the blog. Funny - the reserva and bon chien are what spiked my interest in high grav wild beers as well! ...And inspired the above experiment. Wonderful stuff! Although the third beer for me was cuvee de tomme on draft at Monks which I had around the same time as the first two (summer '06 i think?)

After thatb first experimental beer I tried a more modest beer vaguely in the style of oud bruin, with rose hips, that came to a grav of about 9.5 abv (finished primary at 1.020). Primaried with charlie's cry havoc, and pitched lacto and pedio from WY. Again, after about 9 months - nothing, very clean. Then, I added some Fantome dregs, and - BOOM!! crazy pellicle with lots of horse and moderate sourness.

Mike T
04/20/09 11:48 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
Certainly some inspiring beers, since last Spring I got to have Cuvee Tomme and Consecration as well, both were excellent.

I also just cracked the first few bottles of a big dark saison (~9.5%) with rosemary and fresh orange zest that had some random bottle dregs added in primary. It got funky (very earthy/mushroomy) but lacks sourness, although that may be because the primary yeast (WY Biere de Garde) took it all the way down to 1.003 in primary (despite some carawheat and a mash temp in the 150s).

We are also thinking of funking some of our bourbon barrel wee heavy after it comes out of the barrel.

05/25/09 07:06 PM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
Well a little update.

I added a pack of Brett Brux and dregs from a bottle of Fantome. It took a few weeks, but now there are small bubbles rising up the sides of the carboy. The top is looking like it wants to form a pellicle, but it is early and my first time brewing with bugs.

I have a few bottles of Jolly Pumpkin dregs in the fridge. One from the other day and one today. I want to drink a few more Flemish beers and dump all the dregs at once.

How long would it be possible to hold on to them before using? Could I wait a few days? I sprayed the bottle cap, opener and tin foil to cap it with sanitizer and was quick and deliberate.


Rob B
05/26/09 09:21 AM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
I would just dump them in as you empty them. I have had really good luck with Jolly Pumpkin dregs. I have a BDSA right now aging with JP dregs, tastes fantastic but want the gravity to drop a few more points before i bottle it.
05/26/09 06:55 PM  
Re: Can I sour a 9.5% Dark Belgian?
to answer your initial question - an obvious YES!!
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