Thursday, April 17, 2014

Low-Bush, Brett Belgian Pale aged Blueberries & Oak

Some of the best home brewed beers don't necessarily start off as originally intended.  This beer for example, was planed as a homage to a Belgian Pale ale.  A style I've haven't brewed before. After pitching the yeast and not seeing any activity for 3 grueling days last September, I knew something was wrong.  I also happened to have freshly built up dregs of Logsdon Seizon Bretta ready for another project in my homebrewery.  500ml of solid slurry was way to temping to pass up in a effort to save this unfermented wort.  (I did do a warm fermentation test on the wort, it came back clean, so tossing the batch was out of the question)

I pitched the built up Logsdon Brett (which I named LB-Logsdon internally here at the house) into the 3 day old wort at 65 degrees.  A little colder than I would of normally pitched Brett, but under the conditions I thought it was best to get something into the wort to start the fermentation off as quickly as possible.  The yeast did take a while to get going at this temperature.  Over the next couple of days as the yeast warmed, fermentation quickly caught up.  No pellical was visible while in primary with the Brett yeast.  However when I moved this beer into my plastic sour carboy #6, a pellical started within a week.  This carboy previously contained Brett, Lacto and Pedio for a Flanders Red.  Even though this was cleaned, I fully expected some microorganisms to migrate over into this batch due to the plastic.   Influencing it in some way or another.  This beer sat at ambient garage temperature for 5 months with little to no change.

Almost 40 days ago, I did a gravity reading and the beer was at 1.006.  It also tasted surprisingly good in its current state.  So I did what any other homebrewer would do.  I racked it onto 6 pounds of frozen Blueberries inside a sanitary keg at forty degrees.  Placing it in my lagering fridge along with one Honeycomb of Red Oak.  This was over a month ago.  (Plus Co2 priming time)  Today its on tap at my house, was it all worth it?  Lets find out.

Aroma: Lactic tartness coupled with Blueberries sourness.  Somewhat sweet aroma lingering aroma. 

Appearance:  Some residual hazing from the fruit is left over in the final product. (I didn't use any clearing agents, it was clear before the Blueberries) Pouring a dark purple with highlights of cherry red along the edges.  Nice big bubbles creating a 1/2 thick head.  Consistent bubbling up the side of the tulip during the tasting.  The head vanishes at about 15 seconds, leaving behind a thin resilient lacing creating head on top of the liquid. 

Flavor:  Fantastic beer.  It almost has a lactic fermentation quality.  Close to a BerlinerWeisse, Tart and sweet at the same time.  The blueberries are a little overpowering on the delicate beer style, however it works.  (Might lower the fruit to 1# per gallon vs 1.5# per gallon on rebrews) As the beer warms. it goes into a gritty-ness I associate with Brett primary fermentations.  Vanilla notes also start to show up from the HoneyComb Red Oak on the back end.  (I did rack the HoneyComb into the keg at serving to continue the aging process) 

Mouthfeel: On the verge of sparkling.  The carbonation bubbles dance in my mouth.  Its thinner than most styles but not watery like expected.  The residual sugar left over from the fruit addition is needed in this beer, as I stopped the ferment.

Overall Impression:  I drank three pints during the Tasting Session for this beer.  That says a lot about how much I love this beer.  Only netting 4-ish or so gallons is going to go quick the way I'm pouring this one.  I already have a couple rebrews on the upcoming calendar for this beer.  Maybe one with Peaches or Mangos? 

This base style is perfect for a fruit beer.  Normally I find fruit beers to one directional and to sweet (forward) for me.  Creating this all "Sour" style really pushes out the flavors I don't like while letting the good, beneficial flavors influence the end product.  Cold crashing and then adding the fruit is critical for this result.  Like I stated above, this base recipe will really come into play here at home in future batches.  Even with the hurtles this beer faced at the start of fermentation, you can save a good beer if done correctly.  You can not however save a bad beer, while covering up the mistakes with fruit.  Remember that and drink up. 
Low-Bush Sour
Belgian Pale Ale (Brett)
Type: All Grain Date: 07 Sep 2013
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal Brewer: Chris Lewis
Boil Size: 7.69 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 90 min Equipment: Lewys Tower
End of Boil Volume 6.76 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 72.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 6.50 gal Est Mash Efficiency 72.0 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50): TBA
Taste Notes:  Posted above 
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
11 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Bel (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 84.6 %
1 lbs Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM) Grain 2 7.7 %
1 lbs White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 3 7.7 %
1.00 oz Hallertau Tradition [6.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 4 18.4 IBUs
0.40 oz Hallertau Tradition [6.00 %] - Boil 40.0 min Hop 5 6.4 IBUs
1.00 oz Hallertau Tradition [6.00 %] - Boil 5.0 min Hop 6 3.7 IBUs
1.0 pkg Brettanomyces (Logsdon Ales #LB-Logsdon) Yeast 7 -
1.30 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Primary 3.0 days) Other 8 -
6.00 lb Blackberries (Secondary 30.0 days) Flavor 9 -
Beer Profile
Est Original Gravity: 1.053 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.055 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.014 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.006 SG (Before the Berries)
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.1 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 6.4 %
Bitterness: 28.5 IBUs Calories: 180 kcal/12oz
Est Color: N/A SRM
Mash Profile
Mash Name: Single Infusion, Full Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 13 lbs
Sparge Water: 5.18 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: FALSE Mash PH: 5.20
Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 16.25 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F 60 min
Sparge Step: Batch sparge with 2 steps (1.34gal, 3.84gal) of 168.0 F water

Carbonation and Storage
Carbonation Type: Keg Volumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 10.59 PSI Carbonation Used: Keg with 10.59 PSI
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 41.0 F Age for: 30.00 days
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Storage Temperature: 65.0 F
Fermentation Notes

Primary Fermentation:  I pitched a Belgian Yeast strain on this one, after a week with no activity I pitched a Logsdon Brett Culture.  Within a day it was going full force. 
Secondary Fermentation:  I racked the wort onto a plastic (full sour) carboy.  Pellical developed within a month.  Let sit for 6 months.
Tertiary fermentation:  I racked the beer into a keg and added 6 pounds of frozen Blueberries for 30 days at 41 degrees. 


  1. What do you think happened with the original fermentation? Temp problems? I like the idea of the blueberries in this beer-the hop additions are pretty much coincidentally perfect for having fruit added (hops and fruit are not always best friends, it seems to me). Also, what blueberries did you use? Oregon brand?

    1. When I did the starter, I remember the yeast being slimy..I think I even sent you a picture of it. So if it was good, we will never know now.

      As for the blueberries, they were frozen from Ralph's. Nothing fancy. Just defrosted and smashed.


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