Sunday, February 26, 2012

Flanders on my mind

Back in April 2010, I decided to take the plunge and invest my time and condo-space to brewing a flanders red ale.  The result is HolzBrew Red Sonja.  For those who are not familiar with this style it is a sour ale most often brewed in Belgium (Northern Belgium).  Exceptional examples of this style include Rodenbach and Duchesse de Bourgogne (a household favorite).   Ahhh to be in Bruges, with the sun shining on your face and a cool Flemish ale in your hand.

For my first attempt at a full-on sour ale, I'll have to say it turned out pretty decent.  Not a world beater, but definitely enjoyable.  I used the Wyeast Roeselare lambic culture blend.  This is a blend of yeast and bacteria strains consisting of a belgian strain, sherry strain, two Brettanomyces strains, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and a partridge in a pear tree.  Additionally, I wanted some oak flavor, but not over the top since I knew going into it that this would be sitting on wood for 18 months.  I went with .5 ozs of medium roast french oak cubes. Typically these are blended brews.  In that, a younger beer is mixed with an older beer to come to a happy median of sweet and sour.  I attempted a blend by adding in equal parts 21-month old brew and 12-month old brew, but at the end of the day I liked the 21-month brew alone best, so that's what went into the bottles.

For those interested in attempting a sour ale, the book Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow is a nice reference.  Additionally, Michael Tonsmiere's blog, The Mad Fermentationist is a great site to learn more about brewing sour/wild ales.

Pucker up and brew something sour,


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