Oud Bruin (Flanders Brown)

>> Sunday, September 16, 2012

L to R, Oud Bruin, Flanders Red #1, Flanders Red #2
I've been on a Belgian kick lately and today I'm brewing yet another, an Oud Bruin, aka Flanders Brown. This is a sour style but it is not as sharply sour as a Flanders Red. The BJCP guidelines describes it as follows:

A malty, fruity, aged, somewhat sour Belgian-style brown ale. 

The Oud Bruin is less acetic and maltier than a Flanders Red, and the fruity flavors are more malt-oriented.

An “old ale” tradition, indigenous to East Flanders, typified by the products of the Liefman brewery (now owned by Riva), which has roots back to the 1600s. Historically brewed as a “provision beer” that would develop some sourness as it aged. These beers were typically more sour than current commercial examples. While Flanders red beers are aged in oak, the brown beers are warm aged in stainless steel.

With the exception of the yeast, this recipe is based on the Oud Bruin recipe from Brewing Classic Styles. I'm using White Labs Platinum Strain WLP665 Flemish Ale Blend. This yeast seems very similar to Wyeast's Roeselare Ale Blend (3763) so it'll be interesting to see how this one turns out compared to my Flanders Red. Unlike Wyeast's Roeselare, White Labs does not specifically recommend that a starter not be used. However, I'm going to assume it's best not to use a starter; the reason is the various components in the blend tend to grow at different rates and at different stages, so the proportions can get out of whack with a starter. The yeast data is as follows:

WLP665 Flemish Ale Blend (SEPTEMBER-OCTOBER 2012 release)
Blended culture used to produce the classic beer styles of the West Flanders region of Belgium . A proprietary blend of Saccharomyces yeasts, Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus, this culture creates a more complex, dark stone fruit characteristic than WLP 655 Belgian Sour Mix.
Optimal Temp: 68-80F
Flocculation: Low-Medium
Attenuation: 80-85%+
Alcohol Tolerance: Medium-High

Like most sours, this one is going to have to age for at least 6 to 12 months, so it's going to be a while before it's ready to bottle.  The recipe as I'm making it is:

9.75 # Weyermann Pilsner Malt
4.00 # Weyermann Organic Dark Munich
0.75 # Weyermann Caramunich
0.50 # Weyermann Organic Wheat Malt
0.50 # Dingemans Aromatic
0.50 # Dingemans Special B
2.0 oz Briess Black Patent
2 vials of WLP665 Flemish Ale Blend (no starter)
1.2 oz East Kent Goldings (60 min)

Mash at 152F for 60 minutes. Because of the extended fermentation period, I'll be fermenting this one in the basement utility room rather than in the fermentation chamber.  Temperatures in the utility room tend to vary a little bit throughout the year, but tend to stay in the low 70's.

Brewing Notes
No issues during this brew session. I ended up putting this into my ferm chamber at 71F. I'm going to leave it in there until the krausen falls, then I'll move it to the utility room for aging. Speaking of krausen, I checked the brew last night and there was still no sign of fermentation (approx 30 hours since pitching). I expected to have a little bit longer lag time since I didn't make a starter. I just checked this morning (9/18/2012) and I've got about two inches of krausen, so things are looking good.

Update 9/19/2012
I opened the ferm chamber this morning and it smells very funky.  It's kind of hard to describe, but it's basically the normal sach fermentation smells (yeasty, bready) combined with a very dominant funky sour smell.

Update 10/9/2012
I forgot to post another update, but right after the last update (9/19) the yeast started giving off a lot of sulfur. That's not uncommon with a lot of yeast strains, but it was definitely one of the strongest sulfur-smelling fermentations I can remember. This lasted for about three to four days then it diminished substantially. Given the long aging time, the yeast will have plenty of time to clean up after themselves so I'm not really concerned about it, but it was surprising how intense it was. One other update, this brew was moved to my utility room on 9/30 to clear up space for a Special Bitter.

Update 11/30/2012
I took a little sniff of this one today and it seems to have some very complex fruity aromas going on. It definitely doesn't smell as sour/tart as my Flanders Reds. Fermentation has slowed quite a bit but there's still a layer of foam about 3/4" thick on top. It looks more like krausen than a pellicle but I suppose it could be a mix of the two. My Flanders Red #3 has something similar going on. I'm probably going to let this go until after the first of the year before taking a sample. If it tastes half as good as it smells, it should be awesome.

Oud Bruin 2/27/13
Update 4/6/2013
I finally pulled a sample of this one today. It read 10.8P on the refractometer. The aroma is complex, malty with a hint of roast, some brett character, and some dark fruits coming through. Flavor is very similar to aroma. The tartness level is significantly lower than the both Flanders Reds #1 and #2. There's a lot of brett character in the flavor as well (reminds me of Brett brux Trois in my funky Saison). It's still pretty young but I'm hoping this one develops more tartness as it ages. I know oak isn't appropriate in an Oud Bruin but I might consider inoculating this with some oak cubes from my Flanders #2. They shouldn't add any oak character at this point but I'm hoping it'll help increase the tartness level a bit.

Update 5/27/2013
We had people over for a pre-Memorial Day BBQ yesterday and one of my friends brought a bottle of La Roja from Jolly Pumpkin. I've been a little disappointed with the tartness level so far, so we pitched the dregs from the La Roja into the Oud Bruin.

Update 7/12/2013
Took a gravity reading last night and it's down to 10.5P. Tartness level seems higher than last time but still much lower than my other sour beers; kind of like a gateway sour beer for those new to sours or those that prefer a less acidic tartness. I'm definitely picking up some dark fruit character out of this beer. I get a hint of a cinnamon-like aroma in the nose...one second it's there, and the next it's gone.

Update 3/4/2014
This beer went into a keg today. I'll be force carbing it this week then I'll fill two bottles to ship off to NHC. This one took a while but I think it's turned into a pretty good sour. The tartness level is nice and the malty complexity is much more noticeable than my Flanders Reds. I'm interested to hear what the judges have to say about it. I'll do a formal tasting myself once it's carbed.


Abbey Ale 9/2012

>> Sunday, September 02, 2012

I've been pretty busy lately and haven't had a chance to brew for the past few weeks, so I figured I'd take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend.

I've been on a Belgian kick lately so today I'm brewing an Abbey Ale. I emailed this recipe to myself a while ago and I honestly can't remember where I found it. If I remember correctly it was described as a dubbel, but when I entered it into Beersmith I found it didn't quite fit the style guidelines, so I'm just referring to it as an Abbey Ale. Here's the recipe as I'm making it today. Maris Otter isn't a typical choice for a Belgian ale, but it's my favorite base malt.

7.00 # Crisp Maris Otter Pale Malt
1.50 # Briess Dark Munich
0.25 # Briess Carapils
0.50 # Briess Crystal 80L
2.00 # Amber Candi Sugar (15 min)
0.50 oz Target (60 min)
0.27 oz Willamette (10 min)
0.27 oz Liberty (5 min)
White Labs WLP500 Trappist Ale yeast in a 1L starter
1 Whirlfloc
5.2pH Stabilizer

90 minute mash at 150F, 90 minute boil
Start off fermentation at 65F then ramp up to 72F over a few days.

Brewing Notes
The brew session went smoothly. Assuming I entered everything correctly, my efficiency was slightly higher than 90% with this batch. I ended up using a bit more hops to help balance out the increased efficiency.  I made the wort on Sunday and pitched the yeast on Monday afternoon.  This morning (Tuesday) I'm seeing a nice dense krausen.

Update 9/19/2012
This one got kegged on 9/16.  I didn't sample it before it went in the keg and I forgot to take a gravity reading so I'm not sure of the ABV.  I'll have to take a gravity reading once it's conditioned and on tap.  I do know that it smelled awesome when it was fermenting; definitely some banana aromas.  I've seen some reviews of this yeast where they indicated the flavor profile in the finished beer was less intense than expected based on the heavy banana smells coming out of the fermentation, so it'll be interesting to see how this one tastes.

Update 11/30/2012
I never got around to measuring the final gravity on this one, but I'd guestimate it's at least 7% but probably closer to 8% ABV. That said, it's very easy drinking so this is one that can really sneak up on you as a friend of mine found out when I took some to a Halloween party last month. It's got some great Belgian character, very fruity from the ester profile, and a beautiful copper/amber color. I'll definitely brew this one again but I might cut down on the grain bill slightly to try to reduce the ABV a bit.