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Blackberry Sour Stout

Hey all,

I recently acquired a second set of fermenters, and I love sours, so I’m looking to get something going. I was originally looking at the Tart of Darkness clone over at MoreBeer, but decided I wanted something a bit more stouty. Stumbled upon this guy’s recipe and decided to convert it to partial mash and add a couple things:

So here’s my take:


Recipe Type: Partial Mash
Yeast: Wyeast 1056 + Wyeast 3763
Batch Size (Gallons): 5
Original Gravity (Per BrewToad): 1.074
Final Gravity (Target): 1.008
IBU: 9.0
Boiling Time (Minutes): 60
Color: 39.0
Primary Fermentation: ~1 month at ~68F
Secondary Fermentation: ~8-10 months at room temp


  1. Mash @ 154F, sparge @ 170F.
  2. Pitch Wyeast 1056 to primary, get SG down to about 1.017.
  3. Rack to secondary, pitch Wyeast 3763.
  4. Add blackberries w/ 3mo to go in secondary.
  5. Add boubon-soaked oak cubes w/ 1mo to go in secondary.
  6. Bottle w/ champagne or wine yeast, 2.5 vols.

Anyone have any thoughts on ingredients/process? Do y’all think I’d need a yeast starter, or is the OG low enough that I can just straight pitch it? Too much fruit? Fruit in there for too long? Any and all advice welcome!

(Note: I don’t think BrewToad accounts properly for the yeasts. According to the reading I’ve been doing, a sour like this should end up well under 1.010, while BT is saying 1.015.)

Just some random thoughts…

Toss out the 3763 in favor of something from one of the smaller yeast labs. They’re much more robust and will provide better results in a shorter amount of time. ECY bugfarm or bugcounty, TYB mélange, BB solera blend would all be great choices. 3763 is pretty weak the first go-around. Sacch is completely optional, but a Belgian strain would provide more for the sour blend to work with.

I’d mash higher than that - 158-160F. You want lots of sugars and starches that are not fermentable by sacch.

Blackberries in beer are quite subtle. Good for a light saison or something similar, but unless you go with huge amounts of fruit, you won’t get much. For something dark and stouty, I think a red wine grape, cherries, or something like that would hold up better.

Appreciate the yeast and mash advice, and yeah, could go with cherries. (Girlfriend hates 'em, though—maybe black currants instead?)

That stuff aside, does the process seem sound?

Should mention that I got the blackberry idea from here:

Also, thoughts on the primary/primary yeast->secondary/wild yeast vs. leaving it all in primary for the whole time w/ wild yeast blend from the get-go?

Aww, man! You’re going to make me do some serious evaluation!

No problem, though.

I’d switch the black malt in the recipe for carafa III. Mike Tonsmeire is a great resource, but I find the toasty notes in black malt and roasted barley to get acrid in a sour beer.

Process is sound. I would add the oak right after primary fermentation. Smaller amount, boil the cubes a couple times to extract the harsher compounds. But let the brett go to work on it.

As far as bugs for primary versus clean yeast and bugs in secondary, it depends on whether you want to keep bacteria out of your primary fermentors. If you use buckets for primary, and don’t want to dedicate it for sours, ferment it out with a clean yeast and add your bug blend in secondary. But the blends are really meant for a primary pitch.

I like to use the blends for primary and pitch it all in a carboy. Either use a 6.5 gallon carboy and make a 5 gallon batch, or make 4 gallons in a 5 gallon carboy. After it settles down, top it up with some wort of a similar gravity and leave it in primary for as long as it takes.

I think 5# blackberries in 5 gallons of sour stout is going to disappear. I’d double or triple it, or check into wine bases.

And check out Mr. Tonsmeire’s book, American Sour Beers. Some of the info is out of date, but it’s a great starting point.

Damn, that’s comprehensive! Thanks again for all your help; you’re a credit to the community.

Same quantity of carafa III? It’s also not available from the store I’d prefer to use, so if it’s not a huge difference I might just stick with the black malt.

Re: fermentors, I just acquired a couple more plastic buckets and a couple 6.5gal glass carboys, so I could definitely primary in a 6.5gal carboy, pitch my wild blend, and let 'er ride. (The top-up wort would just be some LME/DME dissolved in water, yeah?)

Re: yeasts, I looked at the ones you recommended and they look pretty badass, but here’s the thing: my budget is sadly tight right now, and $18 for yeast is frankly more than I want to spend. (That’s the cost w/ shipping for the TYB melange or house sour blend, and the ECY isn’t far behind.) The Roselare, on the other hand, I can get for $6.50 w/ free shipping. Kind of a big difference. I understand Roselare’s effects will be more pronounced the second time around, but do you think they could suffice for a newbie on the first spin? (Seems like lots of Tart of Darkness/Consecration clones use it, probably due to ready availability.)

I may also have some bottles I can salvage dregs from.

Where are you ordering your yeast? If all you can get is the Roeselare, then you’ll want to supplement it with bottle dregs as you said. If you can get jolly pumpkin, a little bit goes a long way.

I’m sourcing the Roselare from MoreBeer, where it’s $6.50 w/ free shipping over $59 (roughly what this recipe costs, plus a couple extras). They seem to have the cheapest prices on a lot of stuff, as well. Unfortunately, they only cover WL, Wyeast, and Omega. The sites that carry ECY and TYB all have flat-rate shipping or worse, which means buying a one-off item like a package of yeast is cost-prohibitive.

On another note, I talked to John Rowley, a former multi-award-winning homebrewer who owns the new/exciting Rowley Farmhouse Ales here in Santa Fe, and he seconded your idea re: skipping black patent, but suggested adding roasted barley because it ain’t a stout without it. Thoughts on that?

He also mentioned Roselare (which he likes) can take up to 20 months to fully mature, though I assume it’ll be drinking nicely quite some time before then and just keep getting better in the bottle.

Oh I dunno, 100+ years of british brewing says you can make a stout without roasted barley. I really don’t think 8oz of either black malt or roasted barley is going to be objectionable, but I generally try to avoid roastiness in a dark sour beer. Carafa II works as a sub, although it’s not quite as dark, and midnight wheat would probably be OK in a pinch.

He’s spot on about Roeselare, it does make a really nice beer but needs LOTS of time. Something I’ve done in the past is to cut a recipe in half, let it ferment for a few months, and then brew the other half and add it to the fermentor. The idea is to wait until the brett and bacteria make up a larger proportion of the population, which should lead to faster souring. It’ll still take months and months, though, regardless of the blend you use. Lots of ways to do it, and you’ll still end up with a good beer in the end.

Just noticed you don’t have any base malt in your partial mash. The flaked oats won’t convert without some base malt. That’ll leave lots of starches for the brett and bacteria to break down, but I’m not sure you want that much starch. I sometimes add some flaked oats or wheat in a hop sack directly to the boil to get some starches, but only like 4 oz or so.

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Thanks again. Which base malt would you recommend, and how much of it?

2-row pale malt, and I’d go with1.5# to go with your 1.5# of flaked oats. Or just round it up to 2# and call it good. It’s a small amount, so any brand should work. Your crystal and roasted malts don’t need to be converted, so you can just steep those like any other extract batch.


Another question, because brewing is an endless supply of them:

BrewToad is telling me “To ferment your beer, you’ll need 279 billion cells: 3 smack pack(s) or vial(s) of liquid yeast, or 14 gram(s) of dry yeast.”

Should I ignore that and just pitch a single smack pack, double up, do a starter, or what?

Ignore that. It’s completely appropriate for a clean beer, but not necessary for a mixed culture fermentation. Think about the pitch rate for lambic, as a reference point. You have hyper-attenuating yeasts that work over the long run in there, and any off-flavor compounds will be transformed slowly over time into the characteristic flavors of a sour beer by the yeast and bacteria.


So here’s the updated recipe:

Probably going to go ahead and order the necessaries asap, unless you think there’s anything else needs tweaking! I’ll decide on the fruit later. Might skip it entirely, depending.

Looks good to me! Yeah, don’t order the fruit - I add fruit about 6 weeks before bottling. That will be many months out.

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Drank these tonight in anticipation of brewing this stout tomorrow:



And how about the tasting? Sneezles61

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All extremely delicious. I was surprised how mild the sourness was in the Jolly Pumpkin, but the Gueuze more than made up for that. The Firestone Walker was a nice middle ground between the two (though I unfortunately knocked about half of my glass on the floor).

Well, this came in under the OG predicted by BrewToad (~1.070 vs. ~1.076). Probably crappy efficiency with the partial mash.

But I think it’ll be good anyhow—wort tasted good. Pitched the Roeselare along with dregs from 4 bottles (will add more from a bottle of Odell Dark Theory tonight). Maybe the dregs will even speed up the souring process.

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