My ‘lambish’ beer from the An Adventure into the Wild and Sour post is now nearing a year old. As I just started a new beer with the resurrected culture, I figured it would be about time to taste and start to plan for the next step of the year old golden sour.
Step 1: Taste the beer
I thiefed out a sample and checked the gravity, which read right about 0.998. That’s encouraging! So I give it a sniff, it’s a bit boring. I give it a taste, it’s just kind of bitter. Now I’m disappointed.My last taste of the beer had a nice fruity nose and I thought I was detecting tartness, so I grab the pH strips to check if I was just imagining things and I get a reading of about 4.1, which is not sour at all.
Step 2: Figure out what went wrong
Clearly this beer is not where I want it to be, so the question now is “why?”. There are three main issues as I see it:
This beer is not sour
There are two potential explanations here, one more likely than the other. The first, and more likely scenario, is that any Lactobacillus I had in the original culture was killed off by even the very low 10 IBUs this beer was supposed to have from the aged hop addition. I would have thought that this culture would contain some form of Pediococcus as well, but either it did not or the slow moving pedio was starved out by the amazingly voracious wild yeast that I have in the culture. The other scenario is that this wild yeast has some sort of anti-microbial defense that allows it physically kill of competing organisms. I know this can occur, but I’m not sure how common or likely it would be.
The sub question I have here is why did I think I tasted some acidity early on, only to have none now. The answer could also be the wild yeast, at this point it is probably safe to assume some form of Brettanomyces, as Brett is capable of using lactic acid as a precursor for ethyl lactate production. It is possible that the Brett ate my acid!
This beer is pretty bland
Having used a wild culture that produced interesting smelling and tasting samples in the original apple juice and unhopped starters, I was expecting that if nothing else I would get some funky, interesting flavours. Sadly the beer right now is just bland with the unpleasant bitterness (see below). Simply put: I so not want to drink this beer. That isn’t what I was expecting after a year of aging, and makes me a little sad.
This beer is overly bitter
This beer has always have a slightly bitter component to it, and I attribute this entirely to the amount of aged hops I used. It was 4 oz of Farmhouse Brewing Supply’s Lambic Blend hops in the 10 gallon batch, which was the recommended amount I found through my research before using them. I think it was simply too much, and have recently found others noting the same thing. Next time I’ll try 2 oz in 10 gal. After tasting it initially after brewing, I was hopeful that the bitterness would fade with aging or at least soften when things got funky, but that has not been the case.
Step 3: Figure out the next steps
I’ve already got a few things underway to see how I can resurrect not only this beer, but also set my intended Solera Batch #1 on the right path now. With help from some great people on the internet, I have a plan to look at addressing the flavour and sour aspects of this beer. I’ll be posting a Part 2 to this in the next week or two after I see how some of the potential fixes I have underway are doing.