Wednesday, September 12, 2012

My #SourBeerDay

I would say that there are 3 kinds of people when it comes to sour beers. You love them or you hate them or you have not tried them.

Most people are in that "have not tried them" category. My wife is in the "hate them" category.

I am in the "love them" category.

As I mentioned last week, Saturday was #SourBeerDay. I really thought I was going to use the "holiday" as an excuse to stop by Crooked Stave's taproom and try a couple of Chad's beers. I never got around to it. Actually, I didn't even drink a sour beer and #SourBeerDay.

But what did I do?

Well, the big Sour Beer related thing I did for #SourBeerDay weekend was to preform a sour mash of my long anticipated  Rationalité Poison d'Ereeeek. I have been planning on doing this beer for some time when I saw the #SourBeerDay announcement, I decided to use that as an excuse to go ahead and finally do it.

In  SheppyBrew and the Sour Mash, I talked briefly about how I was planning on doing my sour mash. Since then, I made some changes. I decided to sour mash the whole of the grain bill. I decided to not add cherry puree. I also took out the champagne yeast from the recipe.

You can, of course, look at the recipe on on Rationalité Poison d'Ereeeek. I started brewing this batch Friday night. I mashed the grains for a couple of hours at very close to the recipe mash temperature of 154. Instead of cooling with water like the recipe calls for, I decided to just let the mash cool on its own.

Early Saturday morning (around 3:30 or so), I checked the temperature and found it was just a bit above 120. At that point, I added more grain so that the Lactobacillus on it would inoculate the mash. I purged the top of the grain bed with carbon dioxide. I also added foil to theoretically help keep oxygen out of the mash.

Since I was up, and because I would need my carboy to ferment the Rationalité Poison, I decided to bottle my latest batch of Laser Salt Sandy Blonde Ale. This is the first time in a long time that I have bottled a whole batch of beer. Boy, did it make me appreciate the fact that I keg most of my batches now.

I used the beer gun from a keg as a bottling bucket. This is how I bottle most of my beers now (when I bottle), using the keg as a bottling bucket. Unfortunately, this wiped out my little CO2 tank. I think I had plenty and that perhaps I overdid the purge of the sour mash. Luckily, at least, I got all but three bottles done before the CO2 ran out. Those last 3 are labeled and I will be sure to drink those first, although, the oxygen will probably not be an issue with the natural carbonation. I also almost ran out of bottle caps. I had one left at the end of the bottling.

Anyway, I got 29 12oz bottles, 7 bombers, 2 liters, and my European growler filled. They are carbonating in the basement. These will be about perfect in time to give to "Gretchen" (our gluten-sensitive friend) as thanks for watching our kids over GABF weekend.

So, I had bottling done early in the morning.

The Shepards decided to ride our bikes in Denver most of the day.

After the bike ride, I dragged the family to Strange Brewing Company where I was hoping to get a sour beer for #SourBeerDay. They didn't have anything sour. The closest they had was their Cherry Kriek. I remember this being more sour last time I tried it. It was not really sour at all this time. Oh well.

After getting home, late in the afternoon, I dipped my finger into the sour mash, and tasted the liquid that came up. It was a nice clean lactic acid sour. Very nice. 

It was not until late at night that the temperature of the mash was at about 100. At that point, I boiled a little under a gallon of water and mixed it in. This brought the temperature up to 120 for the night. As I had run out of CO2 in my small tank, I didn't purge the mash again. I did cover with wrap in hopes of reducing oxygen exposure.

The next day, before church, I sparged the mash into my brew pot. Unfortunately, the liquid did not taste quite as clean as it had the day before. It was a bit vinegary, which means it was exposed to too much oxygen. I probably should have drained and sparged when I tasted the nice clean sour. Live and learn I guess. I am not sure if the vinegar flavor will age out at all. We will see.

The brew day was pretty typical. I got about 6 gallons of wort into the fermentor and pitched the yeast in the mid-60s. My OG was right on the 1.052 I had planned for, although I did dilute with about half a gallon of water to get it down to the that 1.052.

The next day, the fermentation had taken off. I added a blow-off tube which was needed before the end of fermentation day 2.

After the fermentation slows down, I will rack into a secondary carboy. I'll probably let you know how it tastes at that point.

So, at this point the jury is out on SheppyBrew's first ever sour mash. I guess we will see how it turns out.

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