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04/27/09 10:39 AM  
Lambics/Flanders Ale
So I have the time to make my first Flanders Red or Brown and given all that goes into it I figured I would also make a Lambic.

I have a few questions regarding the hops, in Wild Brews the Flanders Red recipe calls for aged hops but 10-12 IBU's for the Flanders and .8 oz/gallon for the lambic. How should I measure the IBU's for the Flanders? I have 8 oz of 06 Belgian Saaz that I thought I would split up for these two beers. Is that an appropriate amount/style or should I try to get some Hallertau?

I thought it could be nice to add a little oak character as well give the bugs a little extra starch and create a home for them for my next sour beer. I am leaning towards French or Hungarian for its less aggressive flavor profile. Should I age them in some beer first? Is 1 oz for 5 gallons a sufficient amount and can I leave it in there for two years? I'll be out of the country for about that long and plan on putting them in my dad's basement and basically forgetting about it until I come home.

After 6 months or whenever the secondary fermentation has died down should I replace the plastic stopper and airlock with a wooden bung? If so, does the carboy need to be turned on its side to keep the bung from drying out?

A lot of the recipes I've seen for the Lambics suggest using WLP 001 or something similar for a few days, racking and then pitching the bugs. What is the reasoning behind this and is it necessary if I want a pretty sour beer? If it is a requirement, how low should I let it get before putting in the bugs? Should I crash/fine it with gelatin to get out as much of the ale yeast as possible.

Thanks in advance for the help.

04/27/09 11:34 AM  
Re: Lambics/Flanders Ale
To touch upon a couple of your questions, I'm surprised that Wild Brews recommends aged hops for a Flanders. I commonly would just do 12-15 IBU's of a noble hop at 60 minutes.

As for oak, I would recommend 1 oz per 5 gallons for a Flanders. I would wait until the Flanders is aged and tastes about how you want it, an then steep oak cubes in hot water to sanitize. I would add the cubes and the water to the carboy and age until the oak tastes right, maybe an additional month or so. (I'm sure there are other good ways to do this though.)

04/27/09 12:51 PM  
Re: Lambics/Flanders Ale
Thanks Sean, it is possible that I misread the aged hops for the Flanders, that being said I'll just pick up some hallertaur for it.
04/27/09 04:01 PM  
Re: Lambics/Flanders Ale
Sean, you bring up a good point. To be honest I'm not so sure the aged hop thing isn't generally ready to be shelved. Has anyone pondered this notion at all? Love to hear thoughts.

In general I would suggest getting some foundational understanding of the style first. Before you get involved in what different woods do, really work to understand what the more fundimental components do.

>>A lot of the recipes I've seen for the Lambics suggest using WLP 001 or something similar for a few days, racking and then pitching the bugs. What is the reasoning behind this and is it necessary if I want a pretty sour beer?<<

I never really got this, I can say I have done ambient fermentation, no ale yeast to kick things off, and it has gone great (sometimes. then again I don't really know what bugs I am involving). Belgians don't do it with an initial yeast either. I'd like to repackage your question...

...you bug guys. What would be the difference in effect from giving the microflora a whole wort to chew on verses whatever an ale yeast would leave? Bugs in 1.045 wort vs. bugs in 1.008 young beer?

04/29/09 01:16 AM  
Re: Lambics/Flanders Ale
I'm definitely no expert, but I get the impression that this method is used to mimic the saccharomyces dominant phases of the lambic fermentation cycle, in simplistic terms during the first 2 weeks (Sparrow, p.159). Instead of down to 1.008, The will drop to approximately 1.022 and the bugs & critters will take over from that point forward. (Sparrow, p.163) Flanders is similar, but very different in the sense that the lactobacillus will kick in much earlier.
04/29/09 09:36 AM  
Re: Lambics/Flanders Ale
<<Flanders is similar, but very different in the sense that the lactobacillus will kick in much earlier.>>

But with Flanders - citing Rodenbach as its the orginial - we have real, controlled, innoculation, a very different process from spontaneous innoculation. I don't really see how one could mimic the saccharomyces dominant phase using the 'ferment out with ale yeast' method. The way it would work in the Senne valley is any saccharomyces that ends up in the mix would have to be airborn. This would have to result in the worts saccharomyces presence being just a tiny fraction (at least proportionally) of a smack pack. Since pitching levels have such a huge impact on final product, how could starting with such an elevated sacch cell count possibly recreate the effect of 'ambient' innoculation?

It was always my feeling that this was no so much to mimic anything traditional, but instead to 'normalize' the innoculation process for the home brewer. We tend to think in terms of adding a smack pack or a stepped up starter. Given what I would have to believe is a tiny cell count from open air innoculation I think you'd more effectively mimic the real thing by adding everything together in a proportion similar to that of yeasts in the Seene Valley air. That would probably mean instead of adding the smack pack of sacch you'd be better off opening it, dumping out the contents then rinsing the empty envelope with wort and pitching that! Just a guess - don't try this at home!!!

04/29/09 03:26 PM  
Re: Lambics/Flanders Ale
Steve - agreed, that the cell counts on the homebrew level with this method would be way off vs. especially spontaneous innoculation. One other reason why I think this method is popular with homebrewers is exactly as you say - a way to normalize the innoculation process. Often times in an attempt to control the level of attenuation and funk in the final product.. Not that this always works as intended. Flanders is definitely a different case as the pitching levels are far more controlled with Rodenbach or Duchesse.
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