Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rockit Cup Sour Mash American Weissbier Brewday

I decided that I wanted to experiment with sour-mashing, so I figured that the Rockit Cup American Weissbier was as good a place as any for such experimentation. I mashed in a 5 gallon stainless steel pot, chilled the mash down to around 105° F, pitched Wyeast Lactobacillus, and then put it in the oven and used the bread proofing setting to keep it at around 100° F for 42 hours. After 12 hours, there wasn’t much smell, but right about 16 hours I began to get small whiffs of bread dough and hot candy garbage. Ah, Lactobacillus, so stanky and yet beguiling at the same time. By the time I was ready to brew this morning, the house was smelling good. And another fun fact: when you bring that doughy candy garbage wort up to a boil, it spends a fair amount of time bleeding and oozing even more of that delightful Lactobacillus stanky stank out. Mmm....delicious candy garbage.

150. Rockit Cup Sour Mash American Weissbier
5 lbs. Breiss 6-row
3 lbs. Breiss Flaked Maize
2 lbs. Breiss White Wheat

Mash @ 153° F for 70 minutes w/ 3 gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; chilled to 105° F and pitched Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus; kept at approximately 100° F for 42 hours; heated to 145° F and dumped in mash tun to strain
Batch sparge @ 160° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water

Collected 6 gallons; added ¾ gallon to bring to 6 ¾ gallons; brought to a boil (60 minutes) & added:
w/60 to go: 1 oz. Cluster leaf 7.6% AA

Chilled, split into two 3 gallon carboys, and pitched:
150a. mason jar of ECY19 Brettanomyces custersianus from 141a.
Brewed: 7/13/2013 @ 66° F
Secondary: 7/26/13 @ 1.010
Bottled: 9/2/2013 w/ 2.1 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.002

150b. mason jar of WLP510 Bastogne from 149.
Brewed: 7/13/2013 @ 66° F
Secondary: 7/20/2013 @ 1.006
Bottled: 7/30/2013 w/ 2 oz. table sugar

OG: 1.050
FG: 1.004

Tasting Notes (12/18/2013): I’ve waited on tasting these two beers because I wanted to see what happened to the residual garbage and butyric/isobutyric aromas and flavors that were quite present when initially bottled. Yes, my initial attempt at a sour mash failed miserably, but I still see this as a learning opportunity, hence my decision to bottle it to see what I could learn over time. As well, as Jeffrey McElfresh once pointed out, forcing yourself to drink a batch of beer you screwed up is an effective reminder to not brew shitty beer. So so true. Both pour a slightly hazy straw color, with 150b.WLP510 having better head formation and retention. As to the particulars:

150a. ECY19 Brettanomyces custersianus
This one still has some of the garbage and sweaty feet in the nose, although most of it is gone in the flavor. Besides the butyric/isobutyric aromas, there is tropical fruit and candy sweetness, although it does border on rancid, overripe fruit and cloying sweetness. Still, you do have to work a bit to find all that, so certainly an improvement. And given the time to open up, many of the off-putting flavors bleed out of the nose. Either that, or I am getting used to them. I’m not sure which is worse. Flavors start with corn and musty candy; the fruitiness in the middle is pleasant and enjoyable, and there is some nice bright lactic sourness along with some candy corn flavors in the finish that cleans the palate and makes you forget about some of the other less salient characteristics in the first half of the beer. Until you smell it when you take the next sip, and remember what the finish made you forget. The dry carbonation bite helps the lactic bite clean the palate: post-aroma, this is a pretty interesting beer.

150b. WLP510 Bastogne
The garbage and stomach bile initially present in this beer have all but vanished, leaving behind cracker, corn sweetness, and a hint of hop bitterness. OK, maybe there are still residual remnants of the initial butyric and isobutyric acids (and/or the esters those acids became), but nothing nearly like when it was first bottled—I get Juicy Fruit and hints of the jankiness I associate with Lactobacillus, but not much else. Instead, it tastes clean and lightly fruity; there is some grainy cracker in the finish, and the beer comes across as slightly watery, but overall much cleaner and more enjoyable than when initially bottled. There is some lingering fruitiness on the back of the throat that tastes a bit off, but otherwise it is good. I do wish it had some of the cleansing lactic bite in the other version, but that could also be Brettanomyces-derived. Still, the Bastogne yeast did a better overall job of cleaning up the off-flavors from the sour mashing

See? Learning. Given time, yeast can clean up and minimize some of the off-flavors produced during early fermentation. I’m glad I didn’t dump this beer out—I’ll be intrigued to see what it continues to do with more time in the bottle.

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