My first Sour

So, I’ve got my dedicated equipment.

Some old Crystal (3.3% AA), 3 years old right now that I’ll bake in the oven low and slow.

30/70 mix wheat/2-Row.

I’m planning on using Wyeast Roseleare for the yeast.

I was also thinking of tossing in Wyeast Brettanomyces Lambicus Activator 5526 into the primary after a week or so.

Should I be transferring this to a secondary or just let the whole thing go in a Better Bottle for a year or more?

Seems like I have read advice in both directions regarding the use of a secondary and , frankly, it doesn’t make much sense to me to take it off the bugs that are already in the Roseleare blend.

Thanks for any and all input.

That is kind of what I thought when I made my first sour. I ended up racking it at 6-8 months or something and pitching a brown on the yeast cake and then dumping in some La Roja dregs to the secondary. Just got bored and wanted to rush another sour along so I ended up racking, otherwise I probably would have let it ride for a year or so. Either way, it’s starting to taste good now. Excited to keep this up, planning on brewing one or two a year.

Wild Brews recommends that you transfer Flanders to secondary but keep lambics in the primary. Reasons for this distinction are given. That being said, I usually keep all my sours in the primary until I’m ready to keg or bottle.

Thanks all!

I’ve sat back down and read through Wild Brews a bit closer. Being that I’m not really interested in using a standard beer yeast for the initial fermentation and adding the bugs later, I’m thinking primary only.

Looking forward to this experiment. :smiley:

OK. I’m planning on adding some toasted oak cubes to this at some point.

Can you just toss them in and let it go at that, or do they need to be soaked in something first?

Also, let them sit for a whole year or a shorter period of time?

Amount is personal choice or is there some sort of “usual” amount?

Thanks again for all the input!

Again, not an expert here, but I soaked mine for a while before adding them at the six-eight month mark and will leave them in there until bottling time when ever that is. Oak is more for a bit of complexity and shouldn’t be overpowering for this style.

I have used Roseleare in the past, but I did not get much sour from it. You have to expose the beer to some oxygen somewhere along the way to get the acetobacter going. That is what makes the vinegar type sour character in Sour Reds, Oud Bruin, and Lambics. I don’t think I would leave a sour red on the primary for more than it takes to get the beer down to quarter gravity. Malt is a vital part of the character and it is needed to balance the sour. Oak is a side flavor that also needs to be there. If you put oak in your secondary, it will come out strong when you bottle it, but it will mellow over time in the bottle.

I would save your old hops for a lambic. Sour red just needs 15-20 IBU which will also fade as the beer ages.

Be prepared to do some blending. My best sour came from a blend of 2 light colored sours, a fresh, dark red beer for some malt/color, and an oak aged beer. Tasting and blending is part of the fun.

Thanks for all the input!

What did you soak them in? Vodka? Was this for sterilization or something for flavor? Would I even need to be concerned with sterilization of the cubes for a beer of this style?

I’m shooting for 4~5 gallons in a BB with a rubber stopper. Some air should be getting to the bugs to help form aceobacter, correct?

Are there any “standard” amounts of oak to use per gallon or is this all = experiment!

Thanks again.

You shouldn’t be overly concerned with sterilization but you SHOULd be concerned with over-oaking the beer. It is hard to get good information on this, but my feeling is that a few week soak in wine (red or white) will help extract some of the harsher oak tannins as well as more accurately simulate the types of barrels lambic breweries use. I don’t see anything wrong with boiling them either before or after this step (obviously, doing it after will minimize the effect of the wine).

Thanks! I’m liking all of those ideas / tips.

One of my top concerns was TOO MUCH oak. A little goes a really long way for me.

Thanks again

I soaked it in some red wine just because it sounded cool and more appropriate than whiskey.

I secondaried 3 gallons of beer on French oak chips for about 2 weeks. I did steam the chips before adding them to a keg and racking the beer onto the chips. I aged it for a couple of months. The beer was very oaky, but I only used 1 gallon in a blend of about 8 gallons. It was very good and had a nice, light oak character. As the beer aged in the bottle, the oak faded. I have not brewed a sour for several years, so I forgot about that keg. I found it in a closet this fall and tasted it. The oak had diminished quite a bit, but the beer still tasted very good. This was an unblended version.