Brew Day: Funk You Blonde Ale

I’m diving in with mixed fermentation. For this beer I want to go for a funky, sour, fruity and modestly high ABV beer.

I’ve been doing a lot of research as I enter the world of wild and mixed fermentations. I decided it’s time to dive right in with what I hope is a nicely soured and funky character beer. This is an investment in time, and I plan on adding fruit down the road; potentially some raspberries or plums to give this otherwise blonde brew a nice pink color.

I based this recipe largely on my recent Blonde Ale beer, which turned out fantastic, with enough of a malt and grainy aroma and body that I think will work great with some funky brett characters. I did make some changes to the base beer based on my research, however.

I aim to embrace the funk on this one. That means doing a primary fermentation with saccharomyces, followed by inoculation with other yeasts and bacteria to eat up both what saccharomyces couldn’t consume, but also what it produced. Brettanomyces feats on long-chain starches as well as phenols produced by saccharomyces, so I chose a brewer’s yeast strain that wasn’t very neutral. Quite the opposite, I reached for my go-to belgian yeast strain: WLP510 - Bastogne Belgian Ale, which has worked great for me on many brews past, and is a high producer of complext esters and subdued phenols.

When fermenting with saccharomyces followed by brettanomyces and other lactic acid bacteria (lactobacillus and pediococcus), I’m looking for long chain complex carbohydrates to be available after primary fermentation completes. I changed the recipe in two ways to encourage this. First, I targetted alpha-amylase enzymes in the mash by mashing at 155F. This will produce less fermentable wort for the saccharomyces strain, leaving behind those long chain starches for brettanomyces to chew on. Further, I steeped some flaked wheat in the boil to also impart starches to be consumed by pediococcus when pitched in secondary.

The other consideration when brewing a sour beer is the fact that lactobacillus is inhibited by hops. It seems to be preferable to keep IBU contributions to under 10. For this reason, I modified the hop schedule from the Blonde Ale by moving most of the bittering hop additions to more of the flavor and aroma range, under 5 minutes left of the boil.

I still have some time to plan out the brettanomyces/lactobacillus/pediococcus belnd I will be pitching on this beer during secondary fermentation and aging. I’m close enough to both Russin River and The Rare Barrel, so I might pick up a few bottles and pitch some dregs as well!

The result should be a very pale wort, with less than 10 IBUs, and long starch chains for the bugs to feast on. This will be a long experiment, so we won’t really know how it worked out until about year from now.

The recipe ended up as follows:

Batch Size IBU OG FG ABV
6g 7.5 1.075 ? ?

Water

I would have targetted my water profile just as I did for my Blonde Ale, however I encountered some issues that forced me to improvise, which you can read all about here. However, given proper RO water, the approach taken before for a similar grist worked well, so here it is:

Start with RO water. Treat strike water with:

Name Amount
Calcium Chloride 1 tsp
Gypsum ¾ tsp
Phosphoric Acid 0.5ml

Fermentables

Name Amount Percent Use
Belgian Pilsen Malt 13lb 75.9% Mash
Aromatic Malt 10oz 3.6% Mash
Wheat Malt 8oz 2.9% Mash
Flaked Wheat 8oz 2.9% Boil/Steeped
Golden Candi Syrup 2 lb 11.7% End of Boil

Yeast

Name Lab Attenuation Amount
WLP510 Bastogne Ale Yeast White Labs 74 - 80% 1.8 liter starter with 1 vial
Brett/Lacto/Pedio blend TBD ? ?

Mash at 155F

Brew notes

August 8, 2015

While preparing strike water encountered a nasty issue which I had to troubleshoot for. Ended up blending RO water with tap water, adding a campdem tablet to remove chlorine, and added ¾ tsp Calcium Chloride plus ½ tsp of gypsum.

Mash pH was 5.4.

Sparge took about one hour.

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I didn’t treat sparge water, and instead used the left-over RO water directly. Given it’s low pH there was no need for adjustment.

Fired up the kettle, and 12 minutes later got the hot break. Started the 60 minute boil at this point with the first hop addition.

Added the rest of ingredients to the boil per the recipe.

Chilled wort, aerated for roughly 40 minutes.

Pitched starter and set to ferment.

OG was 1.075

November 2, 2015

Racked to secondary. Gravity reading was 1.012.

September 12, 2015

Pitched dregs of The Bruery Tart of Darkness

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September 13, 2015

Pitched dregs of Alamanac Brewing’s Farmer’s Reserve Citrus

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