Sour beer success – Sour Cherry Sour

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts: Down the rabbit hole of sour beer , I have begun experimenting with sour beers and alternate fermentation methods. The first was the Backyard Berry Sour (Pink Beer) which will now be a staple of the beer selections. It is a kettle soured beer with lots of fruit added in secondary.   We have made 3 batches so far. It is delicious, but I still need to work on perfecting the filtering technique as the raspberries crumble and plug up the kegs and beer lines.

The second was a mixed fermentation with BE-134 and “All the Bretts”. This was based on the NB Dead Ringer with added Acidulated malt, flaked oats (for body)  and more DME and the bret yeast. It was a moderate success.  Very drinkable and  smooth but had too of a much “hoppy edge” in combination with the sourness of the Brett yeast. It was a “Good – but I’ll only have one” sort of beer.

The third was trying some brett yeast as a 3rd fermentation on a batch of chocolate milk stout that was too sweet for my liking (stuck fermentation?) . To make room for new beers the remains of hte chcoloate milk stout was placed in 3l jugs with 100ml of brett starter and left to sit in a dark corner for 3 months.  Interesting, sort of like a very dark chocolate in bitterness but not quite what I hoped for.

While doing yet more reading, I was intrigued with the idea of something closer to Russian River’s Supplication.  Plus, NB had a great special on Scottish Wee Heavy kits which would become the basis of the brew.

Being that this would be a high gravity brew I needed to make a starter.  I used Lallemand Nottingham yeast in 1.5l of water and 3/4 c DME on a stir plate for 24 hrs at about 63F. Omega “All the Bretts” OYL-218 was already bulging in the package, so I figured it was going fine as -is (warm shipping temps in October and no ice in the shipment).


Steeping grains

8 oz Acidulated malt

8 oz Flaked oats

8 oz Carapils crystal malt

6 oz biscuit malt

2 oz  Roasted Barley

Place the above ingredients in a couple of bags and steep for 30 min at 150F. Raise temp at the end to 170F and drain well (don’t be afraid to squeeze).

Now add

6 lb  Gold Malt extract (4.0 SRM)

1 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets

Boil for 60 min

15 min before the end, add

6 lbs Gold Malt extract

1 oz Willamette hop pellets

Chill quickly and add water to get 5 gal at about 63-65F. With my well water at about 50F, I need to have the wort down to about 75F before diluting.

To the chilled wort, add the starters. OG was approx 1.090.  Use a blow off tube, in case the fermentation is a bit rambunctious.  My basement ambient temp at this time, was 63-65F and the fermenter was placed directly on the concrete floor. Monitor the temperature and add heat as needed to hold temp.

Add 3/4 tsp Fermax yeast nutrient at day 3 (68F).   Do not let the temp  go down after it has risen.  I  started raising the temp 1F per day soon after so that at day 14 it was at 78F.

Transfer to secondary

With the beer in the secondary fermenter, the next ingredients were added:

21 oz dried Sweetened Montmorency Cherries

12 oz Zante Currants (small raisins)

The labels on both of the fruits indicated that there were no added oils (which would adversely impact head retention -but I am not so sure there were not).  The fruit had been heated to 160F for 30 min in a bit of water (enough to cover).  This was to get rid of any competing bacteria or yeast. However, the temp was low enough not to add a “cooked” flavor to the fruit.

Start ramping the temp 1F per day to 85F and hold there.

On the second or 3rd day, the fruit will float to the top as the fermentation restarts. Now it is a waiting game. Shake the fermenter vigorously every day to wet out the surface of the fruit. If the top layer of the fruit starts to dry out, you risk mold growth (likely bad)  .

At 4 weeks add 4 oz used toasted oak cubes. I had saved these from a previous batch of beer. I am not fond of the burnt character of the fresh oak cubes.  I rinsed the cubes briefly in Star San to avoid contamination rather than soaking in Bourbon or Rum. I wanted just the light oak character to come through

After 6-8 weeks the fruit will sink to the bottom. This is your indication that the secondary fermentation is complete.   Throughout the secondary fermentation the SG never really moved as measured with a hydrometer (I needed taste samples anyway). The floating fruit threw the Tilt Hydrometer way off. It ended up at 1.016

At the time of writing it is still only partially force carbonated and head is basically non-existent (dried fruit processing oils?).

Dates / times

Start – 11/3/19

Transfer to secondary  11/17/19

Keg 1/25/20

This seems to be a success. I need a few others to taste it. I am getting ready to do another batch, maybe shifting more towards the currants  or trying frozen cherries instead of dried. It almost begs for a hint of cinnamon as well. I will try some experiments in the meantime before committing to a whole batch.