Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Homebrew Tasting: Petrus Common

This California Common wort with Petrus Pale and Oud Bruin was my first beer that I attempted the bottle dregs in 1 gallon container experiments. So far my techniques have changed only a little bit. I now make starters for the dregs by pouring 4-6 oz of 1.030-1.040 wort straight into the bottle a few days before brew day. I have also been trying non sour beer dregs with some good success (look forward to future posts).
The beer has changed considerably over the course of a year and a half. And to be honest I hope it will continue to change with time.
  • Be careful with oak cubes on pale beers (.25 oz French Oak/ 1 gal for 15 months was too much)
  • Do not use hoppy/bitter wort for long aging sour beers. The aged hop flavors are not good and the bitterness clashes with the sourness. The bad hop flavors and bitterness have faded in this beer, but not enough. Now dry hopping a sour beer at bottling is a different story.
  • Learn to taste and then adjust the beer as it ages. For example, I added oak cubes to this beer before I really tasted it and knew that it would keep this underlying bitterness. What I should have done was held back on the cubes and then dry hopped this beer before bottling. With my sour beers now I taste every 3 months and starting month 6, after the beer's character has started to development, I will make adjustments.


  1. interesting learnings. I was thinking about adding some oak cubes (never used them before) to my Flanders Red that is 8 months old. I kept it in primary in a Better bottle for 7 months (on the yeast cake, I know not traditional for a flanders) and now it's off the yeast and in an Ale Pale (to increase oxygen intake and increase sourness). I'm thinking about two options going forward.

    1. Adding 1 oz of oak cubes. I boiled them for a long time, and they have been soaking in Chardonnay for 3 weeks. Aging for 2 more years to get 6 gallons of something real nice and sour for blending.

    2. I also have 5 lbs of sour cherries. My plan as of right now, is to split the 6 gallons into two better bottles. 1/2 oz of Oak into each carboy, and 3 gallons plain, 3 gallons on the 5 lbs of cherries.

    Whatcha think? It's a darker beer, with low bitterness, a lot of brett funk, and sourness is definitely coming along.

  2. I think that is a good amount of oak chips and I think a bit of oak really enhances the complexity of sour beers.

    I just put a gallon of Flanders Red on 1 lb of sour cherries and I'm excited to taste the results. I remember reading on the Mad Fermentationist that he did something similar and preferred the cherry version. My first batch of Flanders Red never got to the sour level I wanted so the sour cherries should help.

    I'm not sure about the oak cubes soaked in Chardonnay, I would save those for a paler base beer where you will be able to detect the flavors. For the Flanders just boil the cubes a bit then decant the water and if you really want you could soak them in red wine for even greater complexity.


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