Monday, February 27, 2012
Group Brewday: Golden sour project
The Temperanillo barrel aged Flanders Red has been in the barrel for almost exactly a year now, and it's tasting great. The acidity is moderate, with a little acetic character. But the complexity from the Brettanomyces, and the wood and wine character from the barrel is amazing. It sucks to say, this barrel aged beer is putting any of my previous carboy-soured homebrews to shame. That in itself s a big lesson in how important a barrel is to brewing quality sour beers. I'm not saying "Don't brew sours if you don't have a barrel," (some people have had a lot better results with the carboy sours than I have) but I believe it makes a real difference. In some ways this beer feels like it brewed itself, and that we had very little to do with its success.
In any case, since I am going to be moving away soon, I have to give up my slot in the group project for the next beer to go into the Temperanillo barrel. My slot will be taken over by Mike Wright, the owner of The Commons Brewery (formerly Beetje nano-brewery). The barrel project will still be strictly homebrew, but we did have the advantage of brewing all the wort at The Commons in one day, with a double-batch on the 35+ gallon "Beetje" system (the original nano-brew system from before" Beetje" expanded to a 7-barrel brewery and became "The Commons".
The group decided to do a golden sour this time. After some deliberation on the recipe, we stuck to a pretty simple design:
As the above picture clearly illustrates, we brewed the beer on a Sunday morning, and many of us had had a late Saturday night. Luckily we had donuts from Acme Donuts, and not much work to do for a lot of the time. Some drinking was done and it was decided that we all really like Green Flash "Rayon Vert", as well as The Commons "Flemish Kiss", both dry hopped, brett-aged belgian pale ales inspired by Orval.
The brewday was very straightforward, but it did end up being about 12 hours, and we still had to get 16 carboys over to Walker's house by car.
Since the only big space we had to ferment the beer in was Walker's basement, we decided to use an alt yeast to ferment the beer. Wyeast #1007 / German Ale Yeast is one of The Commons house yeasts, and we fermented it at ambient basement temperature, which ended up being about 63 degrees fermentation temp.
We are scheduled to rack the beer into the barrel on the same day we rack the Flanders out. We are going to do as little barrel cleaning as possible, possibly just giving it a quick cold water rinse to get most of the trub out. Possibly not even that. We also discussed the idea that if for some reason the golden sour does not progress enough in actual sourness, because of the clean primary fermentation, we could top-up with a strong lacto culture, possibly isolated from a bottle of Fantome or Cascade beer.
As it turns out, we are racking the Flanders out on March 4th, exactly one year after it was filled. That wasn't planned, I just realized it today when looking back at the notes for the first barrel fill. I won't be in town, as Clarissa and I will be in San Clemente for the birth of her sister's first baby. Sounds like a visit to Pizza Port is also in order!
I still haven't gotten around to putting up a post on our other barrel project, the Old Ale with Brett C. that I jokingly call the Billy The Mountain Clone (it was first intended for a 2nd-used bourbon barrel, but we ended up using a pinot barrel due to availability, just like Upright's Billy). I guess I'll get to this when we pull a sample from that barrel, which should happen some time in March.