Annibeersary 3: Sir Etch-a-sketch

Back in August we had the chance to go to Denver and visit The Source. In the River North district you can find Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project nestled inside The Source.  They make some wonderful funky and sour beers. In fact Chad Yakobson, the owner/brewer of Crooked Stave wrote his dissertation on Brettanomyces. The Brettanomyces project is probably more than most people need to read on Brett but a fantastic resource. The effort from that clearly shows in the beers from Crooked Stave. 

While we tried just about everything on tap and a few bottles, Surette really stood out and we brought a few bottles home with us. After reading over the Brettanomyces Project, and reviewing a few lectures Chad gave, we decided to try and spin up the dregs from Surette. Surette is fermented with a blend of BSI B. Drie, CMY001, Orval's B. Brux, and ECY B. custersianus then barrel aged. We didn't entirely know what to expect from this, but 2 bottles of dregs and 500ml of wort started fermenting pretty fast. We stepped this up over five days. 

Deciding what to make to celebrate another year together always  tends to be interesting. We were hoping to use some of our own hops, though they were a little burned out from summer. Luckily our friend Jeff gave us a sample of his homegrown cascade. 

Sir Etch-a-Sketch

9lb pils

3lb white wheat

½ lb aromatic

1lb acid malt


1oz warrior 60min

1oz cascade 20min (leaf)

.9oz centenial 5min (homegrown)

Surette Culture


20min acid rest at 120

60 min sacch at 153

mash out 164

OG: 1.070

FG: 1.003

ABV: 8.8%

Pitched starter 10/28/15


Test 11/15/15: measured 1.009 Slight acidity, fairly dry, smells very bretty, tastes balanced little bit of lemon but very reminiscent of avery twenty two before dry hopping.


12/20/15: FG: 1.003 abv 8.8 Full flavored, nice malt base but mainly lemony flavored. Not overly acidic but well balanced.

1/10/16: added 2oz cascade for dry hopping while cold crashing.

This beer was brewed at the end of October and left to mature (slightly forgotten about) until the beginning of January. It was never trying to be Surette, but it turned out great! It has a bright hop nose with a hint of acidity. It isn't super sour but has a little acidity to it, hops up front but has a refreshing lemon character a bit of a dry wheat finish. It gets a little more fruity as it warms up. I think the dry hopping really rounded out the aroma and paired well with the slight lemon tartness. This is easily the best beer I think we have ever made. I almost feel bad that we got snowed in with it and I might drink the entire keg by myself. 


Divorce Before Marriage Gose

Being the first of the month I wanted to get some beers going. I had wanted to make a Gose for a long time now, even more after trying Sam Adam's 26.2. I have also been threatening Lisa for years about making a pickle beer. Lisa absolutely hates pickles, she likes cucumbers and fermented things, but not pickles. 

So for April Fools day, I have brewed a pickle beer!

A traditional Gose is usually barley based, spiced with salt and coriander, and finished by lacto fermentation.  This pickle beer is slightly different with a bit of salt, peppercorns, and dill. I made a "starter" with the cultures from 3 different kombucha bottles. I'm going to let this do its thing for a day or two, then sprinkle in a little CBC-1 bottling yeast to help finish it out.

I was in the middle of the boil when Lisa walked in the door- perfect timing. She yelled "divorce before marriage!" as it has become tradition when discussing pickle beer. After a small complaint about me actually making a pickle beer, I said she'll feel better about it after she tries a pickle beer. "Oh that's an old wives' tale!" she responded.

"No, its a New Husbands' tale" 

Onto the pictures and recipe:

Finished boil

Used for culture to ferment

Just enough for a 2 liter batch

Divorce Before Marriage Gose

2 Liters of water (its a small batch)

145 g pale malt extract

35 g sugar

3 Tsp Himalayan salt

1/2 Tsp pepper corns

3 sprigs of dill

Kombucha culture- or a lacto culture

OG: 1.05

Mad Fox Brewing review: Oaked Diabolik Ale

We went to Mad Fox for dinner this week and saw they were selling 22oz. bomber bottles of their first sour beer. Oaked Diabolik Ale is a 9% belgian sour saison, brewed with 100% pilsner and spalt hops, aged in oak barrels. 


Evan's Review:

Appearance- Nice clear golden color, head dissipated fast with a few lingering bubbles around the rim. 5/5

Smell- Bit of apple cider but slightly oxidized and a little sour. 3/5

Taste- Dry with a light fruity apple hint upfront. Not overly sour but tangy and more sour as it warms up. It finishes with a peppery and oaky finish. At room temperature the pilsner really comes through. 3.75/5

Mouthfeel- Not a lot of body for a 9% beer, but well carbonated. 4/5

Overall- Very accessible for a sour, fruity overtones and a light acidic edge. 3/5


Lisa's Review:

Appearance - Pale golden. Very clear for a sour. The head dissipated quickly.  5/5

Smell - I can definitely smell the sourness. Not a vinegary smell like some sours, but a nice, palatable funk. 3.5/5

Taste - This is not a sour that will make you pucker. It is a very drinkable sour. I taste a good wild, tangy sourness with hints of oak, pepper, and Belgian spice character presumably from the original yeast. 4/5

Mouthfeel - A pleasant, light carbonation adds to the drinkability. It's subtly astringent, but not unpleasantly so. 4/5

Overall - This is a drinkable sour with oak flavors and Belgian character. I would definitely drink it again. Great first sour release, Mad Fox! 4/5



The start of sour beers


A few years back my brother and I made a trip out to California to visit our cousin. Our cousin decided to ruin us forever with the introduction to Russian River. We had heard of the beers and the brewery before, very few people haven't, but the brewery floored us. There was nothing like this beer near where we lived, especially the line of sours. I picked up a few bottles from Russian River and a few other breweries in the area before flying back to the east coast. 

Back on the east coast, Lisa and I brewed a nice golden saison that finished up in primary. Before kegging I separated a gallon to inoculate with dregs from Almanac Farmer's Reserve 3. This small batch sat in a closet for a while, mostly forgotten about  which is a major part of the souring process. Out of sight and out of mind makes the sour beer less painful to wait for while the magic happens. Just make sure your airlocks stay full.

I reached out to Almanac to ask them about making one of the most tart beers I had the pleasure of drinking, Jesse Friedman responded:

The yeast character comes from a cocktail of wild bugs, using lactobacillus, pedio, brett and brewers yeast. We had several different strains in different barrels that we blended together to make the final product.

It won’t be quite the same, but if you wanted to try to make something like it at home, this would be a good starting point:


- Jesse

The way I framed my question I only asked about yeast. I had read Michael Tonsmeire's blog, The Mad Fermentationist, before and knew a bit about mixed fermentation for sour beers. I should have asked more about their souring process, as that is typically more important than the yeast used to make the base beer. This email was from 2013, in 2014 Tonsmeire published American Sour Beers which I highly recommend reading if you are going to start making sour beers.

This first sour beer of ours sat for 6 months before being sampled and bottled. It was completely different than the clean counterpart it originated from. Lighter in body and more effervescent with just enough acidity to give it a little tart edge. Those notes were from the first month or two after bottling, 6 months later the brett has taken over and its transformed again with more earthy tones not present before. 


Living on the opposite coast from Russian River makes it a little difficult to procure their beers in an easy way. Brewing challenges are fun and definitely interesting. The start of my sour pipeline began with a clone of Russian River's Consecration. This was a proper 5 gallon batch instead of a single gallon.  It had to endure a cramped tiny apartment with little temperature control, a mid summer move, and even more time to reach its desired flavor profile. 



It took almost a year and a half grain to bottle, but it was certainly worth it. Russian River's has a much more assertive sour bite where as mine was a little more mellow and not nearly as carbonated. If and when I brew this again I think I will add specific bugs instead of waiting on Roeselare to finally get around to souring. 

The continuation of the sour pipeline began as left over wort turned experiment. We created what I call "The Intergalactic Mother Funk." It was a few left over vials from the fridge as well as dregs from almost every sour beer we've had over the past year or so. Inspired by Sam Adams barrel room program, this new house culture has become the engine of the sour funk program. We have a few beers going now from this process which I will cover later when Volume 1: Variations on Red finishes carbonating and gets reviewed.

Saison du Sexy

Simple saison great as it is and a fantastic base for souring

10lbs pils

2lbs 2 row

1 oz st golding (celeian) 60min

1oz willamette 2 min

Belgian saison III WLP585



OG: 1.05

FG: 1.004

Abv: 6