new questions after a year of sour brewing
Almost a year, anyway.
When I started with my fauz lambic explorations, I wanted to split everything into small to very small batches, and not taste anything for a year. My first batch was last December. I split the primary so I could see what a pure brett primary was like compared to a cal ale yeast primary, and that was exciting, then I pitched white labs' lambic blend onto both of those and split into some smaller containers... and swore to leave them for a year.
Tiny test batches have less to be able to taste and take gravities on... so I felt I should not disturb them.
In the mean time I have tried some other experiments, including spontaneous back porch innoculation -- the most exciting, but progressing slowly!
About a month ago I was having a problem with the hand-toasted wooden dowels I had put into two of my growing colony of one to five gallon containers in my San Francisco basement. They were wicking out sweet sticky moisture while the others were taking air in and getting thin pellicles. So I had to open those, and I had to taste. Incredibly interesting variety of flavors... I was delighted to finally experience what was happening.
In fact, I bottled one of them - four month old flanders red on fresh tart pineapple (lacking acetic character alas) - because even though i figured it could get better, it tasted so good I wanted to share it.
But some of the others leave me with beginner's questions... I have no idea when they will be ready to bottle or blend.
First, so far some have dusty or chunky surfaces that look like floating debris. Only one had a brain-textured latex-like pellicle! Question: If I like something that still has a dusty-chunky or brainiac pellicle, and I want to bottle or blend with it now, what do I do? Do I have to wait for it to fall naturally? Can I just filter chucks of pellicle out with nylon netting as I bottle?
Second, how do I decide about carbonation and priming sugar with brett still at work? Do I add another yeast in for priming? If I use a young beer instead of sugar, how can I calculate the mixture so as to have a reasonable level of carbonation? I don't keg, and now that I am this far into my sour experiments I am starting to ponder these issues. (For example, I did ok with a medium-high carbonation in the flanders pineapple that I recently primed with hand-pressed fresh pineapple juice, (took a gravity, added corn sugar to get the number where I'd want it for a regular saccharomyces beer, and pasturized at 185 degrees F for fifteen minutes) It's just ready, and nice so far. But will that eventually become a bomb just when I'm pleased that I've aged it in the bottles?)
So how do experienced lambic brewers calculate for priming/bottling?