Monday, April 7, 2008

Deliverance Kentucky Sour

I like to brew to style. It's a wonderful way to hone your skills as a brewer and exercise your creativity within the style. But, every once in a while, I just get this really inspired idea. I might get a little seed of an idea, and by the time I've fleshed it out it's like I can almost taste and see the beer in the glass. (This time it was a Belgian tulip glass.)

So I while I think it's great to brew to style, if I didn't at least make an attempt to brew these inspired ideas, I would really be doing myself a disservice. This doesn't mean that I will actually come up with a product that is a great as the beer I have in my mind. It might suck, but but if you are comfortable enough with your recipe formulation skills, and with a little bit of luck, you should be able to get pretty close.

This beer started with a name: Deliverance. I just thought it was a pretty bad-ass name for a beer. Evocative of certain imagery, if you know what I mean . You can almost hear the dueling banjos playing down the holler. So my next question was, what kind of beer would this be? And the answer to me was obvious: A Kentucky common, also sometimes referred to as a Kentucky sour. This is a beer style that was brewed in the old days in Kentucky, as a table beer, and it had some interesting traits, being brewed in a region that also produced a lot of bourbon. Bourbon is distilled from a sour mash, and sometimes these beers had lactic sour note. My beer is not really trying to be a historical Kentucky common, so much as to riff off the idea.

So what I came up with is a dark beer, the color of a brown ale, with a portion of rye malt, which could easily have been used in a region where bourbon is made. I definitely wanted it to be sour, both from lactic fermentation and brett character, which would have been present if this beer was aged in wood. I wanted it to be a real sour/wild ale, not just a low gravity common ale that was not brewed cleanly. This is not a bourbon barrel beer, but I am going to use some oak. Hopefully it will be a uniquely American sour ale, with a malty background and a nice funky/sour complexity.

To get the lactic sourness and brett character, I decided to try the Wyeast Berliner Weisse strain here again. However, so far I am very underwhelmed with the sour character from the Berliner Weisse. I've heard people say that it does get more sour over time though. If this beer doesn't sour up properly on its own, I'll probably move it to Ray's basement for the summer to keep cool and start dumping the dregs of some commercial sour ales in. That might be fun too...

Anyway, here is the recipe.
Deliverance Kentucky Sour
5.9 gallons all-grain
O.G. 1.059 IBU's 16

8.25 lb. Golden Promise malt
2 lb. Rye malt
1 lb. Munich malt
1 lb. Crystal 80
.5 lb. chocolate rye malt.

Note: I recommend grinding your grains by hand and listening to the "Shady Grove" album by Dave Grismond and Jerry Garcia to get that old-timey, country feeling.

35 grams crystal pellets 3.3% AA 60 min
whirlfoc at 15 min
1/2 tsp. Wyeast nutrient at 10 min

Mash: 4 gallons H20, mash in to 149 for 75 min
Heat to 170 over 25 in
Total mash time 100 min
Sparge 4.8 gallons at 170
Collect 6.75 gallons at 1.053 = 77% efficiency.
Boil for 60 minutes, additions as noted

Chill to 68, whirlpool, and collect 5+ gallons
Aerate for 30 minutes with air pump and stone
pitch 1.5 cup medium thickness slurry of Wyeast 3191

Ferment at 68.
Racked to secondary on 5/19/08: The aroma was very malty and only slightly hinted at any wildness. The flavor was not so good...very metallic. It sort of tasted like sucking on pennies. I can't make any pre-judgements yet, best to just let it sit with the funky white film on top for a while and see how it progresses. If it doesn't turn out well, though, I think the answer is to go to another bug blend next time, like Roselaire, or a lambic blend.

Around mid-October, 2008, I added a tube of Al B's custom bug blend, which he sent to a lot of the people on the Babblebelt forum. This was packaged in a White Labs style tube, which contained a mix of different Bretts, and some Pedio and Lacto that he had isolated from a bunch of funky commercial beers. It also had oak cubes and chips, so these were innoclated with the bugs also. It smelled awesome, mainly of oak. I just pitched the whole thing right in to this beer.

Sometime in early January I added 1 ounce of medium toast oak cubes, sanitized in a little boiled water, and pitched the water and the cubes.