Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Sour Beer: 2012 Flanders Red

I'm now on my 3rd annual batch of Flander's Red. It is a style that I really like and will continue to try to perfect for my taste. Every year I have made some small changes to the malt bill and pitched onto my original Roeselare yeast. Last year's batch was more sour  than the first year's, but still not as sour as I would like. I am also at the point that I know for a great Flanders Red, you really should do some blending. The last batches have been great on their own, but I can always find an area in the beer that I would like to improve (lactic acid level, oak level, Brett level, acetic acid level, color, malt complexity...)

Historically, here have been my changes:

2010 Flanders Red to 2011 Flanders Red
  • 30% Pilsner Malt swapped with 25% Maris Otter
  • 3% Wheat Malt swapped with 13% Flaked Corn
  • San Diego (hard) tap water to Soft Water Profile
  • WLP001 +  Roeselare yeast (No Starter) to  Roeselare yeast cake and US-05 after 3 days
  • 2 oz of French Oak Medium Toast to 1 oz of French Oak Medium Toast
2011 Flanders Red to 2012 Flanders Red
  • 25% Maris Otter scrapped in favor of more Munich and Vienna
  • 13% Flaked Corn swapped for 16% Flaked Wheat
  • All Specialty Malts increased 2 oz
  • Mash Temp from 154 to 158
  • Roeselare yeast cake and US-05 after 3 days changed to  Roeselare yeast cake/WLP530

Brew Day or should I say Brew Days were a bit mixed for this beer. My 1st attempt at brewing this beer ended with 10 gals of mash dumping all over my good buddy Ben's garage and drive-way. I guess I should have listened to him when he said that he thought that trash can was a bit too "flimsy". So that ended attempt #1 and gave me a great opportunity to clean his garage and drive-way for the next 2 hours. Lesson Learned.

 Brew Day #2 had to be planned shortly after because I had already taken the last batch off the yeast cake. I stored the yeast cake in a 1/2 gallon growler until it was time to pitch. My best time to brew ended up being when my wife was at wine book club on a Thursday night. So a weekday brew was in order. I had been wanting to experiment with shorter mash times and with no Pilsner in the boil I was fine with a 60 min boil.

Brew Day schedule start to finish:
5:55 Heat 4 gal Mash Water
6:10 Mash in
6:20 Heat 5 gal Sparge Water
6:40 Recirculate Mash
6:45 Transfer Sparge Water to Bucket, Run-off Mash into Heated Kettle, Start Hand Sparging
7:15 Boiling, Add hops
7:30 Clean Mash Tun, Sanitize Carboy
8:00 Add Chiller and Nutrients
8:15 Boil Off - Chillin
8:55 Ready to Rack
9:00 In Carboy
9:15 All Equipment Cleaned and Stored.

Recipe: 2012 Flander's Red

Batch Size 6.0 gal    O.G.-1.062      F.G.-TBD
IBU-15                         SRM-16          ABV-TBD   

Grain Bill (77% Efficiency):
5.5 lb  Munich Malt 10L (44%)

3.5 lb Vienna Malt (28%)
2 lb Flaked Wheat (16%)
8 oz Aromatic Malt (4%)
8 oz Caramunich I (4%)
8 oz Special B (4%) 
.8 oz Golding, 5.5%, pellet, 90 min 15.3 IBU
3rd pitch of Wyeast Rosealare
1 vial White Labs 530 Abbey Ale
Brew Day:
Brewed: 5/14/10
see picture
Mash Details:
Mash Volume: 4 gal 
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 158F @ 60min
Batch Sparge Volume: 5 gal
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F 
Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 7 gal
Boil Time: 60min
Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.062
Ferment Temp: 67F
Length: 10 days and then ambient in house
The Abbey Ale yeast took off. I tried to mash a bit higher to make sure that attenuative yeast wouldn't dry the beer out too much, so I'll have to take a sample to find out. I have high hopes for this year's batch and stay tuned for the tasting on last year's batch.

Update 06/18/12 - 1.026 after Primary
I am a bit surprised how high the gravity is after primary fermentation with Abbey Ale yeast, as it has good attenuation. Well, I guess this leaves plenty of sugar for the bug mixture to work its magic. I hope the beer doesn't get too funky as the previous batches have a decent level of Brett funk (still towards the cherry pie flavor that I crave). The beer already had some light tartness, but was overall very clean. Not really even any noticeable Belgian phenols or esters from the Abbey Ale yeast. Next update in 5 months.


  1. Sorry to have missed your brew day earlier this month-life always seems to get in the way when you least want it to.

    Losing 10 gallons is tragic. I would have been heartbroken.

    I noticed that you reduced the amount of oak from two ounces to one (2010-2011). Did the oak flavor dominate the first batch? I just added two ounces to my most recent Flanders, but the cubes had been sitting three months in a RIS-I hope I didn't over do it.

    If we could ever work it out, I still think a big Flanders blending session would be amazing. Looking forward to reading your tasting notes on last year's batch.

    1. It's all good, I'm going to have another similar party soon for all the other people that couldn't make it. I'll make sure you know.

      It was pretty sad, but it was only about $20 in supplies. The labor cleaning it up sucked.

      The oak in the first batch was pretty dominant, it has since nicely settled in and adds a lot of complexity after 2 years. I may end up going to 1.5 oz, we'll see. I'm sure you will be fine with what you did.

      Yes, I blending party would be fun.

      I'll have the tasting notes soon. I still need to bottle them all.

  2. I need to brew another batch of Flanders ASAP!!! I like the idea of using Munich and Vienna to add some additional body and depth in the malt profile.

    1. Yes, you do. For me it is fun to make it a yearly thing. I brew it every May, so I can drink last's version (plus I save 6 - 750s from each past batch) on my birthday in June. Soon enough (4 yrs) I'll get to taste a vertical of 7 years on each birthday.

      And I have yet to make this beer with too much of a malt backbone.


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