This is a follow up post to A Misstep on the Road to Sourville – Part 1.
As you’ll recall from the previous post, I was facing three problems with my not-so-sour sour beer, in that it wasn’t sour, it was overall bland, and it had an off putting bitter component. This post will focus on what I am doing and plan to do to remedy these problems and salvage this beer!
Step 1: Fix the Taste
Even if this beer never sours, it can still be interesting, so figuring out how to get it to taste good is probably the best first step. I was talking this over with a fellow IRC chatter and blogger, Matt (mutedog) and he suggested carbing up a bottle to see what happened. I can’t remember if it was his idea or mine, but we landed on using tart cherry concentrate to provide the sugar for the carbonation as I always intended to put at least some of this beer on fruit.
With the plan set, I grabbed a bottle and thiefed out enough to fill it; I was not concerned with oxygenation as the bottle wouldn’t be around long enough for it to matter. I added about 1 tsp of Montmorency cherry concentrate to the bottle, capped it, and put it in my fermentation chamber for a couple of weeks. After about a week and a half, I got impatient and put the bottle in the fridge for a day and then cracked it open.
The beer came out nicely carbed with a slight pink hue and actually tasted pretty good! It wasn’t 100% better by any stretch of the imagination, and definitely not to the point where I would be happy drinking many bottles of it, but it was a solid step in the right direction. The bitterness seemed to have been subdued, and even the very light cherry flavour made the beer infinitely more interesting to drink. I actually finished the whole bottle. I think a full load of tart cherries would make this beer decent.
I was later told by a MTF member on the Facebook group that carbonation can subdue the bitterness commonly associated with aged hops, and that having a little bit of the aged hop bitterness in your beer isn’t out of line from what you can experience with lambics and other sours from Belgium. Maybe they were just trying to make me feel better with that last part, but I’ll take it.
Step 2: Lets Get Sour
It’s pretty clear that no amount of waiting longer is going to effectively sour this beer. I don’t mind waiting longer for it sour generally, but I want to know that something is actively working toward that result. To achieve this I picked up some maltodextrin, with a DE value averaging about 10, and a vial of Pediococcus Damnosus. A lower DE value corresponds with longer chains of polysaccharides, and the scale runs from 3-20 for maltodextrine.
Even though the yeast I have in the beer is a voracious eater, suggestions from knowledgeable sources and my research told me it won’t be able to eat longer chain polysaccharides, but Pedio can and will turn them into the much sought after lactic acid. Since Pedio can kick off a good amount of diacetyl (the vial reeked of it when I opened it), it’s recommended to have some Brett in there to clean things up. I believe I have that part covered already.
I added 8oz of maltodextrin to the beer, let it all at least sink in, and then dumped in the vial of buttery smelling Pedio. I saw a decent amount of early bubbles, telling me that the wild yeast in there is still quite active despite being almost a year removed from primary fermentation and that the yeast was at least able to dig into some of the maltodextrin. Now we wait and see if the Pedio can come through, or if this yeast somehow manages to eat all the maltodextrin, long chains be damned. I’ll probably give to 3-4 months before sampling again and checking on progress. If am noticing some acidity, which of course I’ll confirm through measurement, I’ll start to look at adding more maltodextrin depending on acidic it has become.
Since the Solera would face similar issues with souring, I decided to be proactive and treated that the same way with the maltodextrin and Pedio. Damnosus now, giving it as much time as possible and hopefully getting the Pedio established earlier and coaxing some more acidity out of it.
Step 3: Wait and See
Like I said, now comes more waiting. I’ll definitely update when there is more to tell, but that probably won’t be for a while. I at least have two beers undergoing the souring fix now, so hopefully I’ll be able to see results and know that my beer is on the road to recovery.