The Sour Dark Brown Ménage

April 29, 2012

Last week I was able to squeak in a brew session and finally get to use 2 yeasts that I have been really excited about: CMY1 and ECY02. The CMY1 is Chad Yakobson of Crooked Stave’s Brett strain. The ECY02 is East Coast Yeast Flemish Ale which I picked up in late 2011. Also used on brewday was Wyeast 3787.

So the plan on this batch is to get 4 different beers by splitting the wort among the different yeast strains below:

  • Wyeast 3787 pitched into 12 gallons then *split during ferment  (3000ml starter)
  • CMY1 pitched into 5.5 gallons (directly pitched pure slurry from CS)
  • ECY02 pitched into 5.5 gallons (2000ml starter)
The base beer recipe:
  • OG=1.067 (base wort only), IBU=14.5, 90 minute boil, 155F mash
  • 73.6%-Belgian Pale Ale Malt
  • 8.9% German Munich Malt
  • 8.9% Dextrose Sugar
  • 4.5% Extra Dark Candi Syrup (180 SRM)
  • 2.4% Carafa III
  • 1.7% Special B
  • 12 IBU EKG 6.1%AA @ 55 minutes
  • 2.4 IBU EKG 6.1%AA @ 10 minutes

Let’s talk about the 3787 split batch first. Half of the 12 gallons will end up as a Dubbel/Oud Bruin without the funk and the other half as a Russian River Consecration inspired beer. It’s not intended to be a clone, just an inspired recipe. The base wort went into my conical (I only ferment sacc strains in it) to be fermented with Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity.
At one week I co2 pushed out 5.5 gallons that had fermented down to 1.019 (apprx 70% attenuation) into a co2 purged 6 gallon carboy. When I use fruit I like to rack the beer on top of the fruits instead of adding them in to the beer. Just a habit of mine so I minimize splashing. The carboy already had 11 ounces of dried currants and .75 ounces of medium toast French Oak Cubes soaked in 3/4 cup Avalon Cabernet Sauvignon (both wine and cubes went in). Note: The oak cubes were microwave boiled in 2 cups of water for a few minutes and the water was drain poured before wine soaking to mimic a used barrel.

Once the carboy was filled I pitched an active 1800ml starter of Wyeast 5526 Brett Lambicus. Normally this would’ve been in the carboy first too, but I got caught up in taking pictures and forgot to add it. Two packs of 5526 were on the stir plate for 7 days. Given these were slightly older packs it took a few days to see them come alive. The Wyeast 5526 is my first choice for Brett Lambicus. Their version seems to have more tart cherry and smokiness than the WLP653. I’m planning to let this one go for about 8 weeks then pitch some Lacto and Pedio. From there it will probably age 6-8 months then get bottled in the Vinnie style 375ml’s, but as always with sour brewing the funk makes the schedule.

***UPDATED 6/22/2012*******


So approximately 8 weeks later I took a gravity reading on this RR Consecration inspired version. The gravity was down to 1.008 and the Brett Lambicus was really starting show those wonderful Brett L characteristics I like. Mixed with the currants and red wine this beer is really taking shape at this point. If the beer was left just as is to drop a few more points (around 1.005) with only the Brett L/3787 I really think it would be a good beer…However I think the bacteria additions will take this beer to the next level, just like Vinnie has done with the perfect beer Consecration.

I originally thought about adding a half pack of Pedio instead of the whole thing, but ultimately decided to add the entire pack. So the carboy now has 1 vial of Lacto and 1 pack of Pedio added at 1.008. Based on what I tasted tonight I think this gravity might just be the sweet spot to make a sour beer, that’s not really an all the way sour. The carboy is in my garage right now where temps are hitting in the low 80s right now, which should make the bacterias I added tonight very happy. At this point it’s back to forgetting about the carboy  (but keeping one eye on the airlock water level) for another 3-4 months.

Pitch of CMY1

Now onto the batch with CMY1. I was lucky enough to get a fresh pitch of this from Chad at Crooked Stave along with a barrel sample (bottle 22/24) of the upcoming “Nightmare On Brett Street.”  Side note: This beer was wonderful treat from the barrel, but it’s going to be incredible once it picks up more barrel character before the full release later this year. Ok back to the yeast… The CMY1 is Chad’s strain of Brett Brux, that for comparison sake has some similar characteristics to the “BSI Drie” strain. Since this was a fresh batch from the lab I skipped the starter and directly pitched the vial at 68F.
I haven’t taken a gravity reading on this version yet, I might do that at week 3. At this point I’m not sure if I will add anything to this beer or go with what ferments out. I’m not experienced enough with this strain and certainly not experienced enough in dark wort 100% Brett fermentations. Whatever I decide to do later this year will be added as an update to this page.  I did get some good pictures (click for higher resolution) of the CMY1 Brett starting it’s journey through the land of wort. Even after all these years of brewing I am still a carboy peeper. I think I’ve learned a lot on what to expect from a batch based on what I see happening in the fermentor.

18 hours after pitching

46 hours after pitching

Left picture is 79 hours after pitching. Right picture is 91 hours after pitching.

Now I don’t have much on the ECY02 Flemish Ale other than this video I posted on the Embrace The Funk Facebook page.  I’m planning on just letting it go for at least 3 months before I pull a sample. Due to the limited availability of this blend and the great microbes in it I’m not really interested in packaging this beer.  I’m probably going to keep this one going as a Solera project/blend into other beers or eventually step it up to something larger…maybe?

So far I’m happy with how I split up this brew session because it has me doing only one beer I’m 100% familiar with the process (Plain BDS). It will be fun to see how these beers change and what I end up with. I did start on the label though. I’m sure by the time bottling comes around  I’ll end up making some changes but this is the basic design so far…and yes it’s another Dexter reference.

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