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raspberry sour – bottling party

March 28, 2012

Ok, so it wasn’t really a party.  I hate bottling.  Almost quit brewing because it was such a PITA.  But.. I built a kegerator, which is much lower maintenance and its only for my “special” brews that I go to the trouble of bottling.

That was certainly the case today, when I bottled my Raspberry Sour Ale.  Probably best described as a Bastardized Lambic, this was brewed back in October with a grain bill consisting of mostly Pilsen with some Vienna, Red Wheat and a few dashes of this and that.  I mashed hot for a dextrinous wort, fermented normally, then pitched the dregs from a number of bottles of sour beer – mostly Jolly Pumpkin, but also some Ommegang.  The raspberries were added in the secondary, when I pitched the bugs.

Best I can tell, the sediment contains Sacch, Brett, Acetobacter, Lactobacillus, Pediococcus and probably some other bugs.  Six(ish) months in, It’s already quite sour.  The gravity was down to 1.002, so I decided to go ahead and get it bottled.  I had a need for the fermenter.

Raspberry Sour – ready for racking

I don’t worry too much about which bottles I use for this stuff.  I’ve read a lot that you should only use thick glass bottles (ie Orval or Champagne), but I’ve never had an issue.  I also use carb drops (rather than boil priming sugar), which I think allows me to be a bit more precise and homogenous in my carbonation.

This was roughly a 3 gallon batch.  I filled about 24 12 oz bottles – some Sam Adams and New Belgium, which have their logos embedded in the glass.  The balance were put into a mix match of 22 oz longnecks, belgian bottles and even a champagne bottle.  I did have 1 Orval bottle, but tragically, when I picked up one of the filled six packs, the wet bottom gave out and I lost 3 bottles.  The Orval included.  There were some four letter words, followed by a thorough clean up.

one big happy family

I’ll save the fancier bottles for special occasions and good company.  Some of the 12’s will get set aside for brewing competitions down the line.  Most will be cellared for long periods of time, periodically opened to see how the beer matures.  This is the beauty of a lambic – it will continue to change in the bottle for years, much like a red wine.

Pellicle Remnants.  Yeerck.

Brilliant color.  This will be well worth the patience I have, and will continue to, maintain.

This is the sediment from the carboy – a fantastic blend of bacterium that will serve me well in the future.  I thought the name was appropriate.  A little beer nerd humor.

Personally, I’m completely fascinated that a beer “infected” by a variety of microflora (read: bacteria) can turn into such a uniquely and deeply flavorful concoction.  This was my first true sour beer brew, but I felt very comfortable in what I was doing, because I had read so thoroughly on the subject.  I’m hoping the birthday fairy brings me a copy of “Wild Brews”, but until then, I’ll keep scouring the web and following this guy to keep learning.

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