Lambic

>> Sunday, March 03, 2013


Today I'm brewing up my first ever Lambic style beer. This is a sour style from Belgium and is the one that's responsible for getting me hooked on sour ales. I haven't made one before because Lambics take quite a while to mature...typically longer than a Flanders Red. That said, I'm so happy with the way my first Flanders Red turned out that I wanted to give this style a try. This will most likely end up a fruit lambic, but I'm not sure exactly which fruit yet...probably a kriek (cherries).

A lot of people are familiar with Lindemans line of lambics. Their fruit lambics are back-sweetened, and while I think they're really good it's not something that I intend to do. I will be using the Roeselare yeast blend instead of some of the other lambic blends. I've had great success with this blend so far and really like the flavor profile it develops.

Here's a link to the BJCP guidelines for the style.

Here's the recipe as I made it:

4.5 # Briess Pale Malt
3.0 # Weyermann Pilsener Malt
5.0 # Flaked Wheat
3.0 oz Aged Hops (90 min)
Rice Hulls (a couple handfuls)
0.5 t Wyeast Yeast Nutrient
1 Wyeast Roeselare Blend 3763 (no starter)

Dough in at 113F for 15 min. Raise temp to 122F for 15 minutes. Raise temp to 149F for 45 minutes. Raise to 158F for 30 minutes. Mash out at 169F.

90 minute boil.

As for ferm temps, it will be in the ferm chamber at 68F for a few weeks then will be moved to my utility room (around 68F seasonally) for aging. This will be fermented in a Better Bottle for the next year or so.

Brewing Notes
The original recipe called for 7.5 pounds of Pilsner malt; I thought I had enough on hand but ended up substituting 4.5 pounds of American 2 row. Other than that, everything went well. Efficiency on this batch was a hair over 85%. The starting gravity is 16.8P (1.069), very close to the Beersmith prediction of 1.068. The aged hops for this batch came from Hops Direct and are their Aged/Choice Debittered Hops which are Willamette. Here are a few pics of the brew session.
During the Mash
Notice the stainless scrubby for filtering the hops
3 ounces of aged hops
After the hop addition...looks like chile verde

Update 3/4/2013
I checked on the brew this morning before I went to work and there didn't appear to be any activity, but when I got home from work this evening there was a lot of krausen. The yeast blend was only a couple weeks old, so it was very fresh compared to the ones I used in Flanders #2 and #3.

Update 1/19/2014
I posted an update on several sours back in November, and this lambic has progressed nicely. I decided it was time to go ahead and get this on some fruit. I'm going to go ahead and split this batch with half going onto three pounds of red raspberries and the other half going onto 4.5 pounds of tart cherries. I picked up the raspberries in the frozen fruit section of the local Whole Foods. Trader Joe's or Wallyworld would have been cheaper but they only had berry blends in stock. I got the tart cherries in the frozen fruit section at Costco. I'm not sure if they always carry tart cherries but they had them at a really good price for $10/3lbs bag.

I want to get the fresh fruit character into this beer, so I'm not going to do the pasteurization method that I used for my Belgian Red. Instead I decided to sanitize the fruit with potassium metabisulfite. For both fruits, I dissolved 1/8 teaspoon of  potassium metabisulfite into about 1/4 cup water, then poured it over the fruit. I left it uncovered overnight, stirring periodically. This should kill of any wild bacteria and yeast on the fruit while ensuring I get that bright fresh fruit character.

Update 7/7/2014
I bottled the Framboise half about a week ago. I re-yeasted with Red Star Premier Cuvée to help ensure carbing/conditioning doesn't take too long. I used a fine mesh hop sack to try to filter out the raspberry leftovers but some still made it into the bottles. I was planning on entering this into a competition but now I'm not so sure. Hopefully it will settle into a nice compact sediment layer, but right now it doesn't look as good as I'd like for a competition.

Update 7/26/2015
I recently bought a pH meter for checking the pH of sours, also pH of the mash. The kriek half of this batch has been sitting in a 3 gallon keg for about a year. I was doing a bunch of bottling today, so I figured I'd check the pH. The reading came in at 3.13, a bit higher than I'd anticipated given how bracingly sour it was last year. The sourness has definitely rounded out a bunch; it's still very sour, but it's mellowed a lot. Color is also a bit of a darker red, almost burgundy compared to the pinkish red of a year ago.

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