Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Nelson Sauvin Dry-Hopped No-Boil Sour Ale / Sour IPA - Recipe & Tasting Notes

Nelson Sauvin Dry-Hopped Sour
All the pictures I took for this photo session came out with this weird hazy quality. Fortunately, this is very thematically appropriate for this particular brew.



Brewery: Bear Flavored
Style: Sour IPA / Gose
Brewed: 11.10.14
Kegged On: 1.17.15
ABV: 4.9%


Appearance: golden yellow, haze, ample head, good retention
Smell: tropical fruit, bright lactic tang, funky citrus, guava, lychee, passion fruit
Taste: star fruit, lychee, 
yellow Gatorade, lactic sour, tropical funk, slightly briny finish
Mouthfeel: med-high carb, light body, crisp, puckering lingering sour in finish

It grows ever harder to label a beer like this without sounding ridiculous. Are names sacred immutable historic markers that shall never be blasphemed, or merely vague markers to give a beer the most context available? Sure, sometimes you'll get yelled at for labeling a beer some nonsensical, contradictory, hybrid style, but if you're not taking things too seriously, there's some effortless fun in the unanswerable questions like "How can an India Pale Ale be black?" Sure, why not.

Recently, a bunch of brewers have finally realized that sours are pretty dope when dry-hopped with some viciously fruity tropical hop varieties. I'm not sure why this took so long, other than, I guess, that sours in general weren't all that commonly made until recently. (New Belgium, as far as I know, set the trend a few years ago with Le Terroir, and it's caught on considerably since). "Dry-hoppped sour" works as a label, because it's descriptive of a process. But it doesn't tell you the full story. What type of sour? Are we talking a sour mash / kettle sour situation, or are we dry-hopping a full-on aged lambic-esque sour? Cause there's quite a bit of difference in those two things. "Sour" in general could be so many things. We could be dealing with a dry-hopped Flanders situation, a sour stout, a sour saison, an IPA that got infected, and so on. This batch, for instance: without the hops, you would call the base a gose.

At least, due to the fact that lambic-esque aged sours are way more time intensive to produce, you can usually assume that such hoppy sours are of the "quick sour" variety. (If it's an aged sour, they'll be sure to let you know). This batch, for example: I soured it quickly (not exactly a kettle sour, but we'll get to that). While it was a no-boil and no-hop batch up until the end, I did then dry hop it with an aggressive 5 ounces of Nelson Sauvin, and it drinks like it. Remarkably so. Is it a hoppy sour? A sour IPA? Or is it still a gose, as the base beer would have been had I never added hops?

Whatever it is, I could live inside this beer.

I love the concept of dry-hopped sours, in general. As I toyed with above, you can go in so many different directions with the concept, and if you're not pulling out bitterness, you have little clash of character to fear. A whole range of hop aromas seem to work well over the base of a sour, but the tropical fruity notes of new-wave modern hops are particularly well suited.

I suspected that Nelson Sauvin would go like gangbusters over a tart juicy gose foundation, and it really, really does. Nelson is one of my all-time favorite hops, but it's so unique and distinct that I find it doesn't always pair well with others. It's one of the few hops that I feel often works best as a single-hop addition, because it's already crazy complex, crazy distinct, and there are just very few other hops that can even squeeze within its realm of flavor. Specifically, I usually get a tart gooseberry fruit character from it, dry and succulent — the reason you hear those white wine descriptors tossed about for it. Since there's no bitterness, there's no clash between the hops and the sourness whatsoever — they work  in perfect harmony, tart and juicy characteristics enhancing the best of each other. I find it interesting how well-preserved and distinct the character of the Nelson remains: in Brett IPAs, the yeast almost always rearranges and chews through the hops, ultimately shaping them into something different. Here, the hops still come out the other end as they were before. Weird old Nelson retains its weird old Nelsonishness.

As with my last batch of gose, which got fruit instead of hops, I did not sour mash this or kettle sour it, the way you typically would. I just pitched my house culture of mixed lactobacillus strains, let those go on their own for two days at room temperature, and then followed up with a pitch of Brettanomyces to ferment the beer to terminal gravity. This one finished low, much lower than my last gose, and so the ABV ended up on the high side of what I was planning for. The cooler temps (room temp is pretty cool compared to what most would sour at), but I find the final result ends up right where I want it. This isn't the most acidic thing ever, but it's got a solid lactic sourness to it, moreso than most gose or Berliner Weisse. While you may not be pumping the lacto up at their max temp for the max effort, the resulting sourness seems a bit smoother and more complex.

Nothing special about how I added the hops. To keep things simple and clean, I didn't run this one through my normal dry hop tank, but I did purge the carboy with CO2 when I added the hops and transferred into the keg. Like I said, the hop character just held up amazingly well, for whatever reason. Nelson Sauvin might be one of my favorite hops, and this might be the best use I've found for it so far.

I don't know that I can pick a favorite between this and my last batch of gose, the kiwi lime zest version that never received any hops at all. Both wildly different beers, both very distinct, but both a wonderful application for the gose base.

As I said with the last one: BRB time for a keg-stand.


Recipe-
5.0 Gal., All Grain
Fermented at room temp, 72 F
OG: 1.040
FG: 1.003
ABV: 4.9%

Malt-
41.4% [#3] Pilsner malt
41.4% [#3] white wheat malt
13.8% [#1] Cara-Pils
3.4% [4 oz] acidulated malt (pH adjustment)

Hop Schedule-
5 oz Nelson Sauvin dry hop for 6 days

Yeast-
House Lactobacillus cultures
House Brettanomyces cultures

Other-
15 g sea salt

29 comments:

  1. I once drank a Vicardin (Vicaris Tripel-Gueuze) from Belgium. This didnt have much hop like an IPA, but does taste wonderful!

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  2. We have eerily similar brewing schedules. I guess there's no need to post my write-up on my recent Citra dry-hopped Gose/Berliner Weisse split batch.

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    1. Haha, good ideas are just good ideas, I guess! What sort of process did you follow for the souring? Bet Citra tastes great in that.

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    2. It was a 2-day sour mash held between 105-110F, with acid malt inoculating the mash. Yes, Citra worked out well.
      BTW, this is Luke. I usually post as @metabrewing

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    3. Oh nice, hey man. Sounds delicious. Are you getting pretty consistent results tossing in the grain to inoculate? It's been a bit since I've used that method, but I need to do so again, I'd like to culture some more unique lacto to at least add to my mother culture.

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    4. Yes, I've used this method exclusively with my Berliner style beers, and the results have been consistent and exactly what I was going for. It's nice to lock in the level of acidity to exactly what I want prior to mashing out. It usually takes between 2-3 days for the pH and flavor to get to where I like it, depending on the temperature of the mash (~3 days if between 95-100F, ~2 days if 105-110F). I inoculate with ~1 lb of uncrushed acid malt for a 10-12 gallon batch.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Replies
    1. After knock out, before pitching the bacteria. Figure it's the same principal as a veggie fermenation, the salt helps inhibit competition to the lactobacilus. If it got to be too much for the yeast, though, you could add a bit at the beginning and a bit post fermentation, to taste.

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  5. You use Acid Malt for mash pH adjustment, what are you targeting for a mash pH?

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  6. Best commercially available strains to reproduce this?

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    1. My philosophy with bacteria has been the more diversity the better, and it seems to be working out really well. Basically all the commercially available lacto strains are in here — White Labs and Wyeast standard lacto, plus Brevis. Gigayeast I believe has a lacto strain that's supposed to be good, though I don't have that one myself yet.

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  7. This looks awesome and now I want to brew something like it next week. How big of a starter did you make for the lacto and brett? I'd probably use lacto d and brett trois

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    1. Nice! Lacto is so easy to work with, because it reproduces so crazy fast. You really don't need much of a starter. For this, I actually just decanted off the jars where I house my cultures into the fermentor, and then replenished the wort to keep them fed. That alone was enough to get this ripping. For Brett, I used some slurry from another batch, but somewhere around a 1200 mL starter should do the trick.

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  8. Alright so this beer sounds freaking awesome! I love me some Nelson Sauvin and can only imagine how good it tastes in a tart funky beer like this. I'm just a little confused on the no boil part, do you bring the wort up to a certain temp after the mash (say 170 or so) to kill off any other bacteria, or do you just chill straight after mash out? I'm also looking at starting a couple house mixed cultures - one for Lacto and one for brett, and it sounds like you're having good luck with maintaining mixed cultures of each. Would keeping all bretts in one and all Lacto in another be a good way to go about this? I've read that they thrive in slightly different growing conditions. Thanks for all the great posts, you've helped my brewing quite a bit!

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    Replies
    1. Hey Jerad, I've done it both ways. Even just knocking out at sparge temps seems to be hot enough to pasteurize the wort and kill anything in there, but bringing it up to a boil gives extra certainty. Either way, I've never had anything off come across in these no-boil beers. Having a strong house culture of lacto, as opposed to just tossing in some grain in a sour mash, means the lacto should have the power to out compete anything else.

      I would definitely keep lacto and Brett separate. They do like different temperatures and storage conditions, but mostly it just gives you to the ability to mix and match for different beers. A beer like this is fermented with both lacto and Brett but no Saccharomyces, but I would add the bacteria and the Brett at different times.

      Great to hear, thanks!

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    2. I've just finished successfully souring the base for this beer and I'm about to pitch a brett starter into it tonight. Do you then oxygenate if pitching 100% brett and no sacc?

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    3. Did you boil to kill off the bacteria? I didn't oxygenate my batch, though the Brett would probably appreciate it if you did. If the bacteria is still alive (as mine was), I'm not sure... I feel like something weird *could* result from oxygenating with the bacteria in there, but maybe not. Only just realized that I've never tried it that way. The Brett still ferments out pretty low without O2, but would likely appreciate the boost too.

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  9. I didn't kill off the lacto, so I took your advice and didn't oxygenate. I didn't purge the carboy with CO2 either, so hopefully the brett will use up any oxygen in the headspace. The soured wort coming out of the keg didn't have any off putting aromas, so I'm pretty hopeful for this first attempt. Ph only got down to 3.8 after 5 days at 115F but hopefully it will go a little lower during the primary. Thanks for all the guidance!

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  10. This look amazing and I would love try to make this. Here is what I got so far:

    http://beersmithrecipes.com/viewrecipe/741888/nelson-dry-hopped-no-boil-sour

    Any feedback would be great.

    I plan on bring it up to 170 after I sparge and add the salt at flame out.

    I then add it to the primary and pitch the Lacto - how long does this normally take?

    Then I'm going to add the Brett (after making a starter) I'm thinking this will be about two weeks. Then add the hops.

    Does this sound about right? Any feedback would be great.

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    Replies
    1. That recipe looks pretty good. I would let the lacto go for two or three days -- if you have a pH meter, you can refine the timeline even further. But bacteria multiply very very rapidly and I generally find very little lag time until they're doing their thing. After a couple days, I pitch the Brett to ferment it out the rest of the way. And when it's at terminal gravity, I would then dry hop.

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    2. Thanks for the feedback. I don't have a pH meter, but was planing 48 hours. I want sour just not to sour. I'm excited to try this.

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    3. Yeah 48 hours should be good. You can always go by taste too, but if you aren't boiling to kill it off, it should continue to sour a little bit even after you add the Brett.

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    4. How long would you have to boil to kill it off? I'm looking for sour but not to sour...if that makes sense

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    5. Not long, a few minutes really. If you're worried that it's getting way too sour, you could boil to be sure to halt the souring. If it's right around where you want it but not pushing the threshold too hard, you could just pitch the yeast to finish it out.

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  11. What are your thoughts on whether this would work using lacto for kettle souring and a clean sacc yeast? Seems as though most dry hopped sours I've found detail on do use some level of Brett. Thinking over if I can create a fast turnaround sour with lots of hop aromatics using just lacto, or whether this would be too one-dimensional.

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    Replies
    1. I think that would work just fine. The result of this specific beer was not far off from a kettle sour. It's still a quick, straightforward sort of lactic sourness, but I just didn't kill off the lacto. You may get a little more complexity by letting it age with the bugs, but the profile shouldn't be wildly different. Also, the Brett is more for its pH tolerance than its funky output. On this type of beer, I rarely get a significant perceptible Brett character. So I think you could have good results with that approach.

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