Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Sour Beer: 2013 Flanders Red - 4th Annual

Now that I look back on it, Flanders Red is the only beer that I've re-brewed. I guess that says a lot about me as a homebrewer. This batch will be my 4th generation (and still using the same Roeselare blend). I've learned a good bit about this style and sour beers since I've started. I'll try my best to give commentary on my changes over time.

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
  • 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
2012 Flanders Red to 2013 Flanders Red
  • More Munich Malt (44% to 51%), Less Vienna (28% - 20%)
  • All Specialty Malts increased 1%
  • Switching from 1 oz oak cubes to 1.5 oz oak cubes added at 6 months
As you can see, I'm narrowing in on my recipe. The only changes were to help the malt bill stand out more. I've found on my system that my actual color is always lower than calculated, so my finished product should still be very much in style. I'm very happy with my fermentation plan of using WLP530 being pitched at the same time as my ongoing Roeselare yeast cake. I like the high mash temp, as it keeps plenty of sugar after the WLP530 yeast does it work and it leaves enough residual sweetness after a year to balance the sourness. (I like most of my sour beers pretty dry, but the Flanders styles (Red and Brown) work very well with some sweetness.)

I also brewed a couple extra gallons this year so I could try some ECY20 that Ed at Ales of the Riverwards sent me.

Recipe: 2013 Flander's Red

Batch Size 8.0 gal        O.G.-1.062              F.G.-TBD      IBU-15                           SRM-18.5               ABV-TBD   

Grain Bill (77% Efficiency):
9 lb  Munich Malt 10L (51%)

3.5 lb Vienna Malt (20%)
2.5 lb Flaked Wheat (14%)
14 oz Aromatic Malt (5%)
14 oz Caramunich I (5%)
14 oz Special B (5%) 

1.5 oz of Hungarian Oak cubes @ 6 months

Hops:1 oz Golding, 5.5%, pellet, 90 min 15.3 IBU

Yeast:4th pitch of Wyeast Rosealare

100 ml White Labs 530 Abbey Ale from Belgian Blond
Brew Day:Brewed: 8/4/13
Mash Details:
Mash Volume: 5 gal 
Sacc Rest. Temp/Time: 158F @ 60min
Sparge Volume: 6.25 gal
Sparge Temp/Time: 170F 
Boil Details:
Boil Volume: 9 gal
Boil Time: 90min
Ferment Details:
O.G.: 1.062
Ferment Temp: 70-75 Water bath in garage
Length: 10 days and then ambient in garage

 Even with the changes I've made over the years, I have still concluded to make 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...)


  1. Hi Jeffrey:
    Timely post for me. We currently have a batch of Flanders Red aging in a thrice used 8 gallon bourbon barrel that we brewed with Roeslare and ECY 04 mix (Ménage á Huit). So we need some brews to mix with this as it is sour. We scored some ECY 04 bugfarm and are thinking of doing a split batch with safale 04 in primary and ECY 04 in secondary and just ECY 04 in a primary. Question is; DO YOU RACK TO SECONDARY FOR THE LONG-TERM STORAGE (GLASS OR PLASTIC?)
    Roy Ventullo (fellow BBA/EBY experimenter)

    1. Roy,
      I do not rack for Secondary, but it is traditional for the style to be racked after primary. I have not done a side by side, but the public wisdom says that by not racking off the primary you will get a beer that is more Brett forward. The idea here is that with more dead yeast and trub the Brett has a greater food source and will develop more flavors. For my Flanders Red, I will admit that it has more Brett character than most commercial examples. The Brett note I really enjoy with the strain in the Roeselare blend is a huge sour cherry pie.

  2. Jeff, I really like seeing the differences batch to batch as the recipe evolves. I need to sit down and compare this with my Farmers Daughter Flanders Red Recipes. I really like mine but (as you said at the Quaff Meeting) it needs a little more body. Thanks for the side by side post.

    1. Even with my changes in recipe, I highly doubt I can produce a Flanders Red (or any malt forward sour) without blending. The recipe tweaks just get me closer.

  3. This was a great read Jeff, its interesting to follow along over the years as you dial in a recipe. You gave me some ideas for a Flanders Red I'll be doing soon.

    1. I'm glad you find it useful, I actually started doing it for my own convenience.

  4. Has your Roselare yeast cake changed significantly since the start? I've read that with that blend (and many others), you don't want to repitch or keep it going after a generation, as the blend gets out of wack (ie. lacto takes over, or brett takes over, or the sacc takes over, etc). Curious what your real life experience has shown.

    1. Significantly might be a strong word. The flavor profile has definitely changed and I would say it mostly intensified. The level of sourness (lactic mostly) has gradually grown and the 3rd yrs pitch was very sour after a yr (pH 3.4). The Sacc will never take over as it has a relatively short life span, so I do add a fresh pitch every year when I add my Roeselare yeast cake. I also prefer to mash very high and use a Belgian yeast that is more on the fruity side. This really helps add to the complexity and gives the Brett more flavor compounds to metabolize.


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