Friday, March 20, 2015

27 Old Ale

3 yeasts
3 wild strains
3 fermentations = 27 Old Ale

Reading through Zymurgy I came across the recipe for a Yorkshire Stingo and knew immediately I wanted to brew this beer for my first Dark “Sour.”  Having just come off a couple successful Brown and ESB brews, holding a few fun buggy mixes and being a month or so overdue for my next sour/funk beer, it was a perfect fit.  So let's see where this beer takes us.

Historically this is "most like" an Old Ale per the BJCP style guide.  Highly drinkable, low roastiness, smooth Caramel character, stone fruit (on this one), some variable funk (or sour) and your traditional English Earthy hop notes.  Im imagining a tasty, funky ESB and I love that this puppy has C120 and Special two favorite specialty malts. Now this particular recipe gives you a little leeway as to whether you want to go more funky or less, below I outline several approaches to fermenting this wort, and I am happy with the result of this mini-brainstorm.

Final Batch - 6G

OG - 1063
FG - 1015
ABV - 7% (ish)
IBUs - 37
BUGU - .44ish

12 lbs - Maris Otter
1.5 lbs - dark invert candi sugar (make ahead of time!!!)
6 oz - C120
6 oz - Special B
6 oz - Wheat malt (long term bug food and attempt at head retention)

Mash - 154 for 60 minutes - I think with the low specialty malts and all that candi sugar we should get solid attenuation from the main ferment.  High end of 007 gets us to 1012 with 80% attenuation and the funk portion will go lower, so we should be close to or beat our 1010 target for bottling.

Boil - 60 min

Hops - Targeted just under balanced (.5 BUGU). I want it to be malt forward and am assuming at least 3 months of aging which will reduce hop character and bring the beer to my malt forward target when it is ready, and still allow some room to run.

For the funky batch, I must account for the fact that Lacto is restrained above 8 IBU so I will pull from the tail end of first runnings (pre-hopping) and boil on the side for 10 minutes before transferring to fermenter to cool. Pitch bugs directly on top with only a low amount of aeration and nutrient.

1oz - 60 min - English Hop (I used Fuggles)
1oz - 30 min - same

Yeast (Most English, least funk - Zymurgy recipe)
Primary - 2L starter - Yorkshire Square Ale (WLP 037) - Utilized for its lower attenuation and more pronounced English character.  Pitch at 70 then chill to 64 at first sign of activity.
Secondary - pitch bugs and age 4 months to a year.
*I'd use a high mash temp here (158 - 60 min).  The recipe says 149, but in this case (bug in secondary) I’d want to leave the added unfermentables to allow for additional bug food.

Yeast (a more funky alternative)
Primary - Pitch lacto-only. @ 36 hours pitch mixed culture 2L Yorkshire starter and bugs (brett and pedio) in secondary. This will result in the most funky version of the beer the soonest, but will have less English character.
  • Use low mash temp here (148 - 90 min) - There will be plenty of food for the lacto by pitching the bugs during primary so there is no need for the additional dextrins/carbs associated with a high mash.

Yeast (more English, moderately funky, less control)
Primary - 1L pitch Yorkshire to drive esters and reduce its attenuative ability.  At first sign of activity pitch the bugs and let the good times roll. Straight-forward, but you have no control over the souring process.

Yeast (Proper fermentation, max control)
Primary 5G - 2L West Yorkshire per recipe.  Pitch at 70 and chill to 64 when activity begins
Blend in...
Primary 1G - 200ml slurry BW bugs (East coast Ale, Brett, Lacto)
Primary 1G - 200ml slurry Belgian Sour 1 (Belgian Ale, Lacto, Brett, Pedio)
Primary 1G - smack pack Pedio and a pitch of Brett

Yeast (My Plan) - I have a Rosaleare slurry which started as a simple pitch of a WLP vial.  That beer was racked off and an identical wort went on top and has been fermenting for 3 months.  That slurry is relatively buggy compared to my other wild slurries so Im going to use that here in order to reduce the belgian yeast character of this blending beer.
  1. 48 hours prior to brew day start a 2L of 007 (500ml). Chill and decant before pitching. This will get pitched once the main batch has started.
  2. Mash 154 for 60 minutes and boil 60 minutes.  I believe the sugar and 007 will get me close to if not beyond 1010. By blending later I can focus the main brew on finishing low for wild bottling which requires the beer to be below 1010... or I kill the bugs, which would be like killing a friend.  I want this beer to evolve.
  3. Primary 5G - London Ale single vial, warmed up with 250ml of wort day of.  This will stress the strain and get a big English character at the onset.  Pitch at 70. Anticipating a long lag of around 24 hours for such a big under pitch keep an eye for that activity. Immediately pitch the 007 pitch.  Secondary in Barrel once gravity is terminal.  If FG is above 1010 then Tertiary in wild fermenter and add some slurry from the blending portion, aging until FG is below 1010.  If FG does get below 1010 then Tertiary in a non-wild fermentor and wait for blending portion to properly sour.
  4. Concurrently with the above, pitch 250ml of super buggy Lambic slurry to 1G of unfermented wort.
  5. Once buggy wort is properly soured and the main wort is below 1010 blend back in wild bottling bucket to main batch to taste.  Carbing will have to be a game time decision but, adding priming sugar to lightly carb to say 1.5L may be the way to go.  This way you dont rely on the bugs to carbonate the beer fully.  Then as it ages, and inevitably taste, if  you start to get into an overcarbed situation then just boil the remaining bottles in water for 10 minutes killing your bug buddies and stopping refermentation.
I like this approach best because I will get my English character from the Primary, the attenuation from the staggered pitch, the oak from the barrel without getting it buggy, then the ability to pitch a huge amount of buggy slurry to a relatively small amount of wort with max bug food/funkability for later blending.  In fact, if it gets sour enough I could do 2 blends!  Glorious.  This bottling process will keep my new Blichman beer gun away from the bugs and give me some flexibility in not having to rely on the bugs to do all the work, just in case.  It would be tragic to pop a bottle after 3 months and to have nothing to show for it.  So lets not let that happen!
3/9/15 - 1 vial of 007 which had originally been built up in a starter then swirled and poured back into vial and chilled. Less slurry than in original vial. Started 250ml at 1040 to stir plate.
3/10/15 - Solid activity. Stepped up to 2L. 
Brew Day: 3/11/15 - Starter is at high krausen.

Brew Day
Water adjustment to London profile on
Baking Soda - 2.75, Gypsum - 2, CaCl - 1.25 to 9.5G water

Strike - 5G to 169, Mashed 154. Sparged 4.5G at 200 to mash out.

Collect 250ml second runnings, boiled 5 min, cooled and pitched 1 vial London Ale.

Collected 7.5G, just under 1G of stirred wort to side boil. Preboil - 1048
60 minute add Fuggles.

Boiled .75G wort and chilled. Pulled 250 ml from bottom of lambic. Very yeasty. Added that and 2g Warrior.

Boil 60 to 5.5G. 1oz Fuggles in at 60 and 30.

Chill to 68, aerated and added Belgian candi D90. Hit OG on the money. 1063

Pitched warmed up 013.

Next: Upon airlock activity pitch 2L 007.

D1 - krausen first thing in the AM. Decanted and warmed up, aerated 007. Pitched at 66
D2/D3 - bubbling 5/5 at 64 ambient. No activity on side ferment yet.
3/20/15 - moved side Stingo from 80 degree bath to room temp. Main ferment still moving (1/5). Will rack to barrel next week.
3/26/15 - 8.4 brix - 1015 - to the barrel - tossed yeast. Keeping side ferment at room temp - 67.  Nice cake at bottom, swirled.
4/8/15 - barrel tasting.  Very liitle oak.  Once again, as was the case with the quad, I'm getting the booze first, and this tells me that is barrel character as this beer is not big and was pitched cool.  Leave another 2 weeks.
4/23/15 - barrel tasting - its ready!  Also tasted the funky batch.  There I am getting some medium-plus on the sweaty socks character (isovoleric acid, if im not mistaken), but the funky brett character is highly apparent.  I did a mini blend and I like it!  Blending this weekend with MoBigs.
4/30/15 - blending day - barrel is terminal at 1015.  40:1 blend of the bugs gives a mellow funk aroma but doesnt detract from the barrel too much.  Im going with this.   Doing some small bottles and some bombers, no sugar add as fg is above 1010, so we will have to watch these bottles over time and heat them to kill bugs if they start to over carb.  Added half an eye dropper of buggy side pot to bombers and a quarter an eye dropper to 12oz bottles.  Check this link on Bottle Conditioning w/Brett.

7/12/15 - the side pot has lost the butyric acid note (vomit), which is nice.  Very classic lambic characteristics of balanced funk and a very slight tang (not tart). So we blended too early.  Would have been nice to get this full gallon back to the main batch. 

8/18/15 - added 2lbs cherries to side pot

11/7/15 - bottled with sugar tabs.

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