About a year ago I brewed a batch of my wife’s favorite beer – “La Jefa” Weizen – a traditional Bavarian hefeweizen. I typically brew 3 – 5 gallon batches, but I wanted a little extra wort to “play around” with.
After reading through several recipes that a few of my favorite sour beer breweries have made available, I found that a lot of the base recipes tend to be a pale base made with a combination of two row and some percentage of unmalted grain (wheat, chit malt, oats, etc…). This base wort is then inoculated with a mixed culture and then the beer can take a few different paths. It can either be sold as a pale sour beer or it can be barrel aged, refermented with a fruit addition or blended with other beers in the brewery’s arsenal.
Hey! I can do all of that too! So, I split the 7 gallon batch of hefeweizen into two 3.5 gallon batches. One batch was fermented with bavarian hefeweizen yeast (either Wyeast 3068 or WLP 300). The other, I fermented with a packet of Safale S-04 since I had a packet available.
The “clean” half was fermented at 65 degrees farenheit in my fermentation chamber and was kegged, carbbed and consumed expeditiously. During the “sour” batch’s primary “clean” fermentation (keep up with me here), I prepared a starter with some 1.035 wort and tossed in the dregs of a bottle of Jester King’s Atrial Rubicite. Once the “sour” half’s primary fermentation was complete, I pitched the mixed culture starter and also threw in 9 pounds of pureed raspberries (from the grocery store; frozen, then thawed).
20 days later, the sour half was transferred off of the fruit and into a three gallon carboy. The color was a brilliant ruby red from huge raspberry charge, and the flavor was slight tart raspberry and a little farmhouse beginning to develop. There was a slight bitterness that I wasn’t thrilled about but I decided to let time work its magic.
The carboy sat, undisturbed in a room that fluctuated anywhere from 70 to 80 degrees fahrenheit. No samples were taken until I decided to keg the beer – ultimately about 1 year after the brew day.
The bitterness completely went away and I was left with a beautiful, tart, ruby red American Sour Ale that tastes remarkably similar to Jester King’s Atrial Rubicite. I decided to force carbonate because I really want a high level of carbonation and I just don’t trust my abilities in bottle conditioning sour beers. The only flaw that I can pick out is there is a slight green bell pepper aroma that I pick up only slightly in the flavor. Not entirely sure what that could be, but we will see if it ages out in the keg.
Overall, I’m really glad I split that batch a year ago