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Nate O
08/09/12 10:07 AM  
Sour base for blending
Over the last year I've been experimenting with making a sour base wort and blending with fresh wort for my sours. I recently read an interview with Lauren Salazar where NB does basically the same thing, so I'm not claiming it's original or anything.

I have a bucket I use only for making sour wort. I'll rotate between a dark and light wort, and I've always got some going. If I'm doing a Berliner Weisse I'll just bottle it as-is. If I'm making some other kind of sour, I'll boil the sour wort and blend to taste with the other beer, and add Brett at that point if I want to.

It's made making sour beers a lot easier and more predictable. I used to struggle with balance, and dialing in the proper acidity.

08/09/12 01:09 PM  
Re: Sour base for blending
I have also started blending a lot of my sour beers. Although, I'm a little confused with your technique.

NB ferments clean and then sour ages a dark and light beer. They then can blend this beer, but pasteurize(not boil) the beer to prevent contamination in their system and lock in the blend/prevent over carbing.

Are you saying that you take light and dark wort and just add lacto?

And why do you boil, instead of cold crashing and using campden tablets? Do you notice a change in flavor after boiling?

Nate. O
08/09/12 03:01 PM  
Re: Sour base for blending
Yeah, I just sour the wort, not a finished beer like NB does. I have one bucket infected with lacto I cultured from grain, so I just take what I need and top up with left-over wort from whatever batch I'm brewing.

I'll boil the sour wort with the regular wort if I'm just using a bit (like 10-20% in a wit), or pasteurize it and add it post-primary if I'm using a bunch (50%+). I've never tried campden with them, but that's a really good idea. I have sulfite onhand for wine, so I don't know why I didn't think of that.

Before I had dedicated plastic gear for my sours, I'd boil all my sours to prevent contamination on the cold side. I didn't notice a difference, but I've never done the exact same beer back-to-back to compare boil/no-boil.

08/09/12 05:11 PM  
Re: Sour base for blending
Campden tablets and sulfites don't impart any off tastes or flavor to the finished beer?
08/09/12 07:59 PM  
Re: Sour base for blending
Interesting, in other words you do all your souring at the beginning. So you don't depend on any souring to happen with the aging process?

It just seems that boiling would drive off some aromas you want. Maybe next time you can taste the wort before and after boiling and see what differences you detect. I guess if you are only doing lacto then maybe you don't lose very many aromatics.

Also you said that you are fermenting the wort with lacto in a bucket. Have you had any issues with acetic acid?

Nate O
08/10/12 10:15 AM  
Re: Sour base for blending
Yeah, I do all the souring with lacto upfront. I found long, slow souring to be too unpredictable, with my equipment and skill-level.

I suspect I lose a bit of aroma when I boil it, which is why I don't boil (just pasteurize) when using large volumes. When I do boil it I just throw a few liters of sour wort in with the rest of the fresh wort pre-boil, and proceed like it's a normal beer.

I'm pretty sensitive to acetic acid, which is why I've moved to souring everything upfront. I'm sure better brewers can sour something for 12-18mo without the beer getting too acetic, but I can't.

The lacto forms a sticky pellicle really quickly, so that probably inhibits acetobacter.

08/10/12 12:29 PM  
Re: Sour base for blending
I really like your idea. I do my blending post fermentation. So if I know I have all the other flavors I want, but the acid level is lacking then I add some of my most acidic beer.

I still haven't made dedicated acid beer batches, but that is my next step. I like the idea of having a light and dark version. Do you have a specific recipe for each or do you just take some wort from whatever you are brewing?

08/13/12 11:53 PM  
Re: Sour base for blending
Cool.....So this sour wort you have going. You basically have a sour starter on hand that you infected with lacto that you obtained using pale malted grain, right? Did you get the lacto started through a sour mash? How long can the lacto survive from batch to batch? Does the sour wort you keep on hand get acidic fast?

Thanks for sharing

Nate O.
08/14/12 04:21 PM  
Re: Sour base for blending
Almighty - No set recipes. If I know I'll be taking out a little bit of wort I add some extra base grain to whatever recipe I'm making and use the 3rd runnings to top up the sour wort. If I'm doing something like BW where I'm taking a lot of the wort, then I'll brew a small beer to replace it, between 20-50% wheat malt, the balance being pils. Going from a dark version back to a light version takes a bit of planning, because I'll drain the bucket completely.

Saison36 - I started with a 3L, 1.040 starter made from dextrose and base grain (pils IIRC), which I kept hot for a few days then added to the first batch of sour wort. I'll fill it up again fairly quickly, but I've gone as long as a few weeks with it completely empty and plenty of Lacto survived to sour the fresh wort.

The Lacto is really sticky, so the thick pellicle will stick to the sides of the bucket as I siphon off the wort from underneath. Once you establish a big population, it's pretty easy to keep it going.

Nate O.
08/14/12 04:22 PM  
Re: Sour base for blending
When I say "brew a small beer" I mean "mash a small beer's worth of grain."
08/21/12 12:59 AM  
Re: Sour base for blending
Sounds like sort of a lacto-starter solera. Very interesting way to go. How often do you brew, and what is the longest time the wort has sat there?

Does the pellicle indicate a mixed culture, or does pure lacto form a pellicle?

Nate O
08/27/12 11:22 AM  
Re: Sour base for blending
There's no way it's a pure culture, since the bugs were cultured from grain. I'm at work, so I don't have my notes in front of me, but I'd guess the longest it has sat would be 3-4 months. The shortest would be a couple weeks. There is maybe 1L or so that's close to a year old, but it's been topped up so many times I'm not sure how much of it is actually original.

I think Lacto forms a pellicle. I haven't noticed any ropiness, but that might take longer than a few months to develop? Whatever it is, it's definitely lactic acid. I'm pretty sensitive to acetic acid, and I haven't noticed any yet.

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