Friday, May 18, 2012

Bring On The Bugs

I've been thinking about building up my reserves for sour dregs to add a little more depth and complexity to my sour beers.  The two that have finished were good, but I only used one type of dregs to achieve them and my hope is to add a lot more to the following batches.  Previously I have used Russian River's Supplication and Consecration.  Recently I built up the dregs from there Sanctification which is brewed with only Brett, with Lacto and Pedio in secondary, and bottled with Brett alone (thus removing the champagne yeast that they use in all the other sours at bottling), as well as dregs from a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere which has a great pellicle.  I added the dregs from a bottle of Oude Beersel Oude Geuze Vielle to my Lambic as well as dregs from some of my homebrew, Cantillon, and a dose of Logenberry Mead from my buddy that had gotten infected.  

I've got quite a few bottles of different sours that I was considering culturing from, such as, RR Beatification (among other RR offerings), Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus, Oakshire Scookumchuck, Girardin 1882 Black Label, Boon Oude Geuze Mariage Parfait 2007, and Hannsens Scarenbecca Kriek.  What I was thinking was to make a 1.030 starter wort from DME and Apple Juice, transfer into water bottles and put it in the freezer until I drink one of these bottles, at which point I will pop the cork, pour the beer, flame the lip, and add dethawed starter wort to the dregs in the bottle then place foil on top and leave at ambient to grow.  After some time I will be able to swirl up the starter of which ever one/ones I want to use, pour some off into the beer I am brewing, and add some more starter wort to it to feed it and keep the culture going.  This will give me variety, and since I have lots of 1 gallon jugs, I can add JP to one, Cantillon to another, Hannsens to another and RR to another, and compare how they turn out, then blend to the desired effect I want.

One problem that I hit was with the bottle of Fantome Saiosn D'Erezee Prentemps that I did this with.  I ended up with Icebergs on top (Large clumps of mold) and a Sea Cucumber floating around in the liquid (large carpet of mold).  According to another homebrewer and sour  maker he has had this same issue when the starters are grown in too hot an environment.  Another issue that Mike Tonsmeire threw my way, and I was reminded of again while reading Wild Brews again, is that mixed cultures like this will be very difficult to keep in balance.  Inevitably the Sacc strain will die off and autolize, the Lacto (especially in un-hopped stater wort) and Pedio will multiply rapidly, and the Brett will not keep up with the acid bacteria.  If this were to happen, successive batches would become very sour and not have much other flavor components to keep the beer in balance with the proper flavors and aromas, just sour.  What he recommended, and the way I will probably go, is to just pitch the dregs into a batch, let it age, bottle, and then pitch the dregs from my bottled beers into new sours along with other dregs, age, bottle, repeat, and so on.  This will give me a large diversity of bugs and wild yeasts from different breweries, as well as a house character as my current bugs and yeasts are repitched and morph from batch to batch.  With all the different sours I have going right now, it sounds like a good option.

Add to this my culture of Lacto from yogurt, and my Brett starters - 1 Orval, 1 Reinhardt's Flemish Wild Ale, and I will be getting some Brett C from an all Brett beer that some buddies have going, I should be looking at quite a bit of funk to funk around with.

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