Club Gueuze/ Lambic Project

We’re planning a group brew for Brew Haven and we want to go funky and sour on this one.  We will coordinate a group gueuze brew.  We plan on having individuals brew a traditional lambic recipe (60% base barley malt, 40% unmalted wheat- using a turbid mash) and leaving the beer open to the air outside overnight to naturally get inoculated with wild yeast (only wild yeast-no yeast will be pitched in this brew) and then let the beer naturally ferment for a time of no less than 12 months. Below we’ll list a couple things to keep in mind when engaging in this project:

 

  • This beer will use a turbid mash as 40% of the grist will be unmalted or raw wheat. Turbid mashing is a process where part of the mash liquid is removed from the mash at different stages and held at 180 degrees for the remainder of the mash. (very similar to decoction except you don’t pull grains in this form of mashing and the liquid is only returned to the mash tun at the end of the mash)
  • The wort should be boiled for 3 hours to mirror traditional lambic brewing styles. Shoot for using aged hops to subdue the IBU generation fresh hops will contribute to the beer. This allows for hops to inhibit unfavorable bacteria to the beer but not contribute bitterness to the finished product. If you don’t have access to aged hops, use very low alpha hops.
  • This beer should be brewed before mid May as that is a turning point for natural airborne bacteria where acetobacters and other unfavorable yeast and mold really take off. You will brew the beer according to the schedule listed, but instead of chilling the beer with some form of wort chiller, you will leave it open in a fermentation vessel outdoors overnight and let the beer naturally gather wild yeast. After 18-24 hours, you will put the lid on, and let the beer naturally ferment as it will. DO NOT ADD ANY YEAST!
  • Let the beer ferment away as you normally would if you had pitched yeast (BUT YOU WON’T pitch yeast) and transfer to a secondary vessel and let the beer age a minimum of 12 months
  • Consider brewing 10 gallons of this beer (or more if you’re adventurous ) and letting one age for 12-18 months and let the second one go for 24-36 months to blend with younger lambics down the road.
  • As a club, we can get together and blend multiple batches to create a club gueuze as well as save dregs from these beers to develop multiple “house strains” of lambic yeasts for future club brews
  • Once the project is done, you can bottle it straight, blend it, fruit it, get creative with it, it’s your beer. We’ll coordinate note keeping for future reference so we have educational material for a more scientific examination down the road.
  • Consider oaking the beer with oak chips, cubes, balls, staves, spirals for a more authentic lambic flavor profile.
  • Remember that all cold side equipment CAN AND WILL BE INFECTED with wild bacteria so anything that touches your wort or beer after it has been cooled should strictly be considered souring vessels. All tubes, canes, bottling wands, and bucket fermenters should only be used for sour beers after this experiment. Glass carboys should be fine to use on clean beers again.
  • It would be optimal to do your primary fermentation in a plastic brew bucket as the surface area is far more conducive to catching “bugs” than are carboys
  • We’re going to limit the OG of the lambic to 1.040-1.054 and the IBUs must be kept below 10. Try to use larger amounts of low Alpha hops as opposed to a small amount of high alpha hops….the hops themselves are highly antimicrobial and will aid in preventing unwanted bacteria from inoculating your wort.
  • When chilling your wort overnight, you can leave it in your boiling vessel to catch bacteria, just make sure you cool it to below 180 degrees to stop the hops from contributing IBUs to the beer.
    • There are some great resources on brewing sour beers on social media and available in digital publications:
      http://www.milkthefunk.com/wiki is a great resource as many commercial breweries and researchers have contributed to the website development. Consider this a one stop shop for most of your sour beer related questions
      http://www.themadfermentationist.com/ is a contributor to Milk the Funk and has his own book, American Sour Beers
      Byo.com is a great resource for researching specific styles including Lambic/Gueuze and mashing techniques including turbid mashing.
      There are countless Facebook pages related to sour beer brewing including Milk the Funk.
  • Most importantly, have fun with this. This will be a completely new brewing experience for most of us that can really yield some great results!

 

Maltose will carry raw wheat. They ordered one sack of it and it will be available on a first come, first serve basis. It should be in within 2 weeks, but I will keep you posted on its availability if anything changes in the timeline.

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Club Gueuze/ Lambic Project

One Response

  1. joshj

    I listened in on a webinar that the American HomebBrewers Association and Jester King brewing put together about this exact subject. Joe covered 99% of it but here are a few tips.

    •When leaving out your wort to inoculate with wild yeast, consider the surface area of your vessel. The more the better. A bucket will do but a plastic bus tub would work well or something similar.

    •Aged hops work best because the alpha acids have degraded but the beta acids are optimized. Beta acids contribute the antimicrobial properties of hops whereas alphas do the bitterning. Jester King uses hops up to almost 10 years old! Ask around for old ass cheesy hops.

    • Patience is a virtue! It can take a long time for the optimal flavors to develop. You may get nasty, butyric acid flavors (vomit) but, after a year they may subsided. Bitterness will fade with time too. That’s part of the fun with this method; seeing how your beer evolves over the 18-24 months.

    •If you cork and cage your bottles, consider laying them on their side. According to some science stuff, this makes for a creamy carbonation.

    joshj February 10, 2017 at 7:32 pm #

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