Sunday, February 14, 2016

Sour Fruit Experiment - Blueberries

In the past year I've been trying my hand at making sour beers. I have three separate five gallon batches going now and I'm brewing another 10 gallons very soon. The first batch I brewed from the dregs of a Hill Farmstead Nordic Saison I picked up while visiting Vermont.

That first batch soured very quickly. I checked it after only 6 weeks in the fermenter and it was already quite tart. It had a pH of 3.4 and to tasted very good to my new-to-sours pallet. I had watched a video with Vinnie of Russian River stating 3.4 was their target pH and since I liked the beer I wanted to keg it. I posted in the Milk the Funk group on Facebook to get some feedback which pretty much said "If you like it keg it" and "Split the batch and let some continue to age", so that's what I did.

I kegged four gallons of the five because I was very concerned the beer would continue to sour and drop the pH since the F.G. was only 1.010. As it turns out that was just some newbie nervousness. After 7 months I checked that remaining 1 gallon of that first batch. It was a bit lighter in color and significantly more clear but other than that it was what I remembered with maybe a slight cherry like fruitiness to it. The pH was still at 3.4.

After a few more sour beers under my tasting belt I've come to realize that first batch wasn't very good and was pretty 1 dimensional with mostly a lacto sourness and not much else for flavor. The batches I have going now will age a very long term to help build those characteristics along with higher mash temps and the addition of some oats and maltodextrin. I've also used ECY 20 Bug County for one and the next two batches will be split between Wyeast Roselare and White Labs Belgian Sour Mix 1. Both of those cultures have a mix of Brett, Pedio, Lacto and Sach which should be everything you need in a mixed culture to make good things happen to a good base beer.

With that being said I'm not going to waste this remaining 1 gallon of my first batch.

Instead of drinking it the way it is or dumping it, I decided to use it to experiment with some fruit. I had three quarters of a pound of frozen blueberries in my freezer so I removed 1 quart of the batch (into a couple of glasses!) and replaced it with the blueberries which filled the space back up to the same original level, guess I did something right. I've read that 1lb per gallon of sour beer is the recommended amount for adding fruit but I simply used what I had on hand.

I doubt this will "fix" this small batch of beer but it should give me an idea of what blueberries will taste like in a sour. I'll give this beer another two months to finish off the sugars in those blueberries and report back then.