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