Sunday, April 27, 2014

Flanders Red 2014

I wasn't quite sure I wanted to brew this beer yet, as I currently don't have anything on tap and I only have a single beer fermenting (Slump Buster PA).  I would've liked to have a few more in the pipeline before I got a 1yr+ sour going, but I did really need to get to this before my pack of roeselare started getting old.  I was originally hoping to get some more of Al's bug blends from ECY for this batch but that didn't pan out. The last time I got a hold of some was quite a long time ago, and was before he was selling it commercially, however it did turn out fantastic!

Unfortunately this time around I wasn't able to get my hands on any.  I'm not too worried though as I've done used Roeselare in the past and had great results. Thinking forward, and due to the difficulties of getting ECY  blends, this time next year I'm looking forward to finally doing a true ambient fermentation. I'll be putting the wort in a small apple or cherry orchard nearby to capture some bugs.

Fort this years beer, I decided to change up the malt bill a bit and do something different that the typical malt bill I've done in the past.  The malt bill I'd previously used was outlined in Wild Brews, many other people, including myself, have used that as a guideline for reds and had nothing but great luck.  However, the more I make sours, the more I want to play with the base beer to see what I can get out of it.  Honestly after 1yr+ in the fermentor I'm not sure how much character is left from the malt anyway.

In this batch I'm using just enough Special B and Aromatic malt to get me in the color range for a red, with a bit of honey malt for aromatics. I even tossed around the idea of using a little roasted barley for color, or even a 100% Red X malt bill (which I will do soon enough)

Aside from the changes to the malt bill, I am also approach the mash schedule a little bit differently.  This time around I will mash the barley without adding the wheat.  Then right before mashout I plan on adding the crushed wheat and vorlaufing.  I'm hoping this will retain some starch, but still allow for decent conversion.  I'm also likely only going to do a 15min mash and a 15min vorlauf to keep things quick and simple.

One last minute change I made was to use some aged hops I had on hand.  I cant say I've ever been one to think that a large quantity of aged hops was necessary for homebrewed sours, and have almost always advocated for using a small quantity of fresh hops to get your IBU's.  My rationale has always been that a large quantity of aged hops is only needed when your dealing with the unknown of a spontaneous ferment (lots of protection against the bad bacteria).

However recently, (brewday), I began thinking about brett and hops, which is something that has been coming up a lot more in homebrew and commercial examples.  There are lots of examples of Brett IPA's out there now, and the consensus seems to be that the hop profile becomes muted much more quickly in a brett beer than in a sacch one.  I'm starting to wonder if the brett is eating the hop oils/acids? If this is the case then there is likely a flavor contribution from large amounts of aged hops in the beer that we have been missing out on!

With this line of thinking, and being pinched for time (couldn't find my scale to weigh out fresh hops), I decided to toss in copious amounts of aged hops in the boil. I wish I could have done
a side by side of the same wort with different hops (aged vs fresh) to test this theory, but I wasn't set up for it, maybe next time?

One last thing, my brew area still inst set up (well) and my garage around it is a disaster area.  In the middle of my brewing I jumped and hopped across one of the many piles in the garage and managed to trip and rip apart my temperature probe wire.  Now that I'm using an electric HLT, I cant really brew without the temp probe being connected, so I had to do a bit of soldering on the fly! (10min after I fixed it the first time I had to do it again..........)

Flanders Red 2014 - cant believe its been 5yrs since my last one!
Malt Bill
Amt (lbs)Type
6.5NW Pale Malt
1.0Honey Malt
1.0Wheat Berries - added just before vorlauf
0.5Special B
Amt (oz)TypeTime
6 handfuls2006 Magnum60
Mash Schedule
152F1.1qt/lb (sans wheat)60
170F2qt/lb (with wheat)15min - vorlauf
YeastRoeselare WY3763
85% effIBULow?
7gal BoilFG


Luke said...

Nice to see you posting again. I am convinced that aged hops contribute significantly to the classic lambic profile (i.e. Cantillon). Specifically, I think the aged hops add to the sharp cheesiness. If you look at Cantillon's hop schedule, they're supposedly adding something like 4 oz per 5 gl! At that quantity there has to be some flavor contribution. I've never thought about hops in relation to a Flanders Red though, should be interesting!

Rhen said...

Do you do anything to keep the temperature and other conditions constant over the course of the year? I haven't ever brewed a beer that takes this long because I'm worried that there will be too many variations in temperature and throw something off, wasting the beer (and also I am not patient enough).
Thanks for posting!

Ryan said...


I always make sure that the primary fermentation takes place at cool temps (mid 60's) after that I let it go wild.

When I lived in Arizona, the closet I kept my sours in could easily get to 90F+, and while having a much sharper acidity they still turned out well.

Overall though cooler temps will lead to a more complex and likely fruity beer, while hot temps emphasize the acid. My preference is the cooler fermented beers, but it is handy to have a very sharp acid heavy beer on hand for blending

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