Cellar Samples — July 2011

Left: Oud Bruin, Center: Flemish red 2.0, right: Lambic 2.0

It is the end of July, and it is hot.   It is in the 90′s here, a rarity for Maine, and without A/C, it can get a bit rugged.  So, what to do when it is so hot?  Go to the coolest place in your house, the basement, and find something to do.  I have 4 sours going right now, but only 3 are of sufficient age to sample, so I decided to steal a bit, and take a taste.

The first is an Oud Bruin I made June of last year.  I brewed about 6gal of it, and had to split the fermentation, so half  up front, and the other half was fermented with safale 05, and once primary was done, about 2 weeks, I blended them in the carboy.  The OG was 1.076, making it a pretty big sour.  The SG reading today was 1.014, surprisingly high.   I was planning on bottling it, as it has been 13 months since brewing, but that SG tells me it is not ready.  I would want to give this another 3-4 months, and see if it drops anymore.  Of course, I had to taste the beer.  It is a deep brown, as you can see from the picture.  It has a sweet, caramel malt aroma with the classic cherry pie, followed by just a touch of the brett funkiness, not very assertive at all.  It tastes very smooth, again the sweet malt/sour cherry taste dominates, which I enjoyed, with a slight acidic tang at the back.  I am surprised how little acidity there is in this, but it works nicely as it is.  This is a keeper, much maltier and more caramel flavors then any sour I have ever made.  It works really well with the cherry flavors of the brett.

The second is my 2nd iteration of a flemish red.  This was brewed in December of 2010, so it is just over 7 months old.  This beer I made with a different culture then my first flemish red.  I had used Roesalare the first time, this time, I tried .  The blend is more for lambics, but it is what I had on hand, and wanted to give it a try.  The SG is 1.008 today, from a OG of 1.053.  It is a nice amber/brown color, not as clear as the others.  The nose is a bit of malt, but more I am getting a green apple, cider like aroma, with spiciness in the back.  It smells really good, like a nice spiced cider, but I am a bit worried about that.  Green apple aroma/taste is associated with acetylaldehyde.  This chemical is either made by yeast as it is fermenting, but not cleaned up because the yeast drops out too fast.  You get a green apple taste from some English yeasts, and I suspect this is why.  The other place you get it is an oxidation product of alcohol to acetic acid.  While an acetic acid taste is ok in flemish reds (I associate it with a balsamic vinegar flavor I get in a lot of the reds I have tried commercially) you don’t want it to dominate.  It is in a glass carboy, so I am doing the best I can to minimize oxygen.  The taste is more of the same, cidery, with a very nice spicy note, like cinnamon, finished with a very sour bit, which I enjoy very much.  I think the spice maybe the oak it is being aged with.   Bug Farm is far more sour then the few Roeselare’s I have tried, I think I will stick with ECY products going forward.

On a whim, I mixed some of the oud bruin and the flemish red together, and it took both to another level.  The sweet maltiness of the brown, with the strong cherry flavors combined with the spicy bite of the red was terrific.  Blending is an art in sour beers, and I think I have my first combination I am going to try.

The last beer is my second Lambic.  It is also just over 7 months old, and is made from the washings from the flemish red I made with Bug Farm.  The OG was 1.047, and it is down to 1.005.  The beer is a straw color, and pretty clear.  It has a grassy/wheat nose with some lemons, then you are hit by a strong dose of horsey smells.  It is pretty rough, needs some time to mellow out I think.  The beer itself is very thin, as you would expect, and has a very crisp acidic bite, far more tart then anything else I have made.  I really don’t taste much malty/wheat or even funk, it is mostly sour.  It is kind of like lemonade, without the sugar.  I am planning on splitting this, and having a gallon sit on raspberry’s, and another gallon sit on strawberries, so see what we get.

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