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Style of the Week: American Sour Beers!

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June 26, 2015 by fhsteinbart


Here we have the most recent publication on sour beers made in America.  Notice the Teku and Tulip glasses which capture a fine aromatics.

Here we have the most recent publication on sour beers made in America. Notice the Teku and Tulip glasses which capture a fine aromatics.

Over the past 20 years are so, there has been a debate about what the best palate cleanser is for the evaluation of beer.  Some ascribe to sparkling water, some to unsalted French bread, and some to mild tasting beers.  One of the most common debates is which beer to use as a palate cleanser.  Some ascribe to using innocuous beers like Leffe, Stella Artois, or even light American lager.  While these beers do somewhat cleanse your palette, they also coat your palette with middle molecular weight proteins which can affect taste perception.  As for myself personally, I have found the best palate cleanser to be sour beers.  Sour beers come in many varieties such as Oud Bruin, Flemish Red, Lambics, and Gueuze.  My preference for a sour beer as a palate cleanser is usually and customarily an Oud Bruin or Flanders Red, as they are the more readily balanced and neutral sour beers actually being rather tart with a mild malt sweetness instead of being truly sour.  The tartness cleanses the palate while the residual extract balances the organic acids and makes for a well balanced beer.  Below is a recipe of mine that makes a fine Oud Bruin, balancing the complex organic acids with the residual malt extract resulting in a highly quaffable beer.  After tasting this beer you’ll find that you’ll be able to retaste the previous beer just as you did the first time around.  Unfortunately, there’s no real meaningful method of resetting our sense of smell.  Some people will lick their palm and sniff it to reset their sense of smell.  This method doesn’t always consistently work for most people, so others will smell the skin of a fresh citrus fruit.  While there have been efforts trying any other method of cleansing the nares, none have been particularly statistically significant.  So let’s get on with the beer and start brewing!

Extract:

7 lbs. Extra Light LME

3 lbs. Munich LME

1 lb. Wheat LME

½ lb. CaraMunich Malt

½ lb. Special B Malt

½ lb. Aromatic Malt

½ lb. Pale Chocolate Malt

3 oz. Goldings Hops (bitterness)

Wyeast 1056, WLP001, or US-05 Ale  yeast in primary fermentation

Wyeast 3463, or WLP655 in secondary fermentation

Procedure:

  • Heat 1½ gallons of water to 165°F.
  • Turn off heat and add specialty grains, steeping for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove grains from the water rinsing with hot water.
  • Add extract to hot water stirring until completely dissolved.
  • Return to Heat, bringing wort to boil.
  • After 10 minutes, add the bittering hop addition.
  • At 20 minutes remaining, add the Whirlfloc tablet or Irish Moss.
  • At knockout, cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or use a wort chiller. Add the mixture to the fermenter, removing the hops, and bring total volume to 5 gallons using distilled, bottled, or filtered tap water.
  • Aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well).
  • Pitch yeast and ferment at 65°~66°F for 7 to 10 days.
  • Allow to age an additional 2~3 weeks before packaging up as usual.

All Grain:

10 lbs. Pilsner Malt

4 lbs. Munich Malt

½ lb. Wheat Malt

½ lb. CaraMunich Malt

½ lb. Special B Malt

½ lb. Aromatic Malt

½ lb. Pale Chocolate Malt

3 oz. Goldings Hops (bitterness)

Wyeast 1056, WLP001, or US-05 Ale  yeast in primary fermentation

Wyeast 3463, or WLP655 in secondary fermentation

¾ gm. Brewing (Calcium Chloride) Salts per gallon (~3.75 gms. or 1 level tsp.) in the mash and in the boil.

Procedure:

Infusion mash at 152°F for 1 hour. Sparge to 6.5 gallons of wort, and bring to a roiling boil. Add the bittering hops 10 minutes into the boil. Continue boiling for 40 more min. then add Whirlfloc tablet or Irish moss. At knockout, cool the mixture by placing kettle in an ice bath or using a wort chiller. Add mixture to fermenter, removing hops, and aerate unfermented wort (shaking works well). Pitch yeast and ferment at 64°F to 66°F. Gravity may vary depending on system efficiency, so adjust accordingly.

Package up as usual; bottled versions should use 130 gms. corn sugar (approx. ¾ cup), or kegged to 24 psig, and allow two weeks to come into condition. Serve at 45°~50°F in a Teku or Tulip style glass, share, and enjoy! This beer will continue to evolve and change over the coming months, so make enough to last you through your next brew.

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