Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Valentine's Day Brew Sour Malz

SWMBO was gone all day... so of course I brewed again.  This time a 1.5 gallon batch of "lambic" apricot.   Why the quotation marks?   Well because I didn't feel like actually doing a kettle sour, or setting this batch in an open fermenter and hoping some awesome wild yeast fell in to magically transform my brew. I din't feel like fermenting and then pitching a lactobacillus culture.   So I used a technique I first learned about some 15 years ago, and was reminded of when reading the blog at There is an entire page dedicated to small batch, or pico recipes.

A pico recipe is a 1 gallon batch of beer.  And if you live in an apartment, condo or smaller space, it might be right for you.   Heck, I live in a pretty big house, and I still make 1 gallon batches all the time.  They're fun.  They're perfect for experimentation.   If you have been brewing extract and you'd like to try all grain, this is the way to get started.  I promise you, your extract kettle is large enough for a 1 -2 gallon batch of all grain brew in a bag beer.  You don't even have to have a grain bag.  You can just use a kitchen strainer.  Although a grain bag really makes your life easier.  And they're like $4 at Home Depot for a 2 pack.  I have a friend who only does 5 gallon partial mash (partial boil), and 1 gallon all grain.   His beer is really good.  He has fermentation temperature control, he aerates properly, he pitches healthy yeast.   He makes brewing easy.   Who's to say he's not on to something.   He has spent less than $300 on his brewing equipment, he has temperature control, and he brews as much as you or I, probably more.

Mash in low and
slowly rise to 154 F
I totally get where he's coming from.  Brewing is relaxing for me.  It relieves stress and calms the spirit.  With pico batches, you can easily brew when you get home from work.  Everything is faster, the water heats faster the grain mills faster, the batch chills in record time.

So Sunday, I brewed a 1 gallon apricot "lambic".  It wasn't a true lambic.  I used sour malt, or acid malt, or acidulated malt to "sour" the wort.   2 ounces with the mash, and 2 ounces for the last 10 minutes of the mash.   And it will taste like any other beer that has loads of lactic acid in it... nice and sour.  The difference?  The sour won't be created by an active bacteria culture, i.e. lactobacillus.   The recipe is straight forward.
Your stove can easily make
1 to 2.5 gallons of all grain beer!
Pico Apricot Sour
1.5 Gallon Batch
1.064 Original Gravity
1.016 Final Gravity
23 IBUs
7   SRM
82.5% efficiency

1.7 # of  Cargill IdeaPils - Great Reliable Pilsner Malt
1.3 # of  Cargill Malted White Wheat
.2 Ounces of Cargill Acidulated Malt
.2 Ounces of Cargill Cara 60
.2 Ounces of Cargill Acidulated Malt (last 10 minutes of mash)
.2 Ounces of Centennial, First Wort Hops  2.1 AAUs  
1/2 a package of US05  (I often use Abbaye for this but I was out).

Simple mash,  I dough in at what ever temperature my sink water is at, when it is turned to it's hottest setting.  Then I rise to 154 F.  I rest for about 40 minutes to an hour.  Then I mash out, and start the boil.   That's it.  Simple, and It goes quickly.   The batch is chlled, aerated for 15 minutes, then the yeast is pitched.   That is all there is to this.  Trust me you can make a 1 gallon batch of all grain beer on your stove top.  Even if you never have before.   In a couple of weeks I will be joined by a friend who has never made an all grain batch, and we will be taking him through the entire process and posting about it.  So stay tuned.

"Wait, you didn't mention the apricots..." right... I didn't. There is no great magic to fruit flavorings.   You can use Frozen fruit in the secondary fermentation, or you can just use fruit extract from your local home brew supply shop.  I tend to do both.  For this batch i will be adding 1 package of frozen apricots from WalMart into secondary, and then at bottling Ill probably add .75 ounces of apricot flavor extract.

Apricot Sour, comes out a nice orange color too!
The batch is fermenting like crazy right now. With half a package in 1.5 gallons,  I expect a quick, clean fermentation.   Probably ready to go to secondary this weekend.  In about 2 weeks this will be ready to drink.   And it is one heck of a beer.   With lots of apricot flavor and aroma, a nice sour background, and a hint of hops.   A great beer for spring.  And I am definitely ready for spring to arrive.

That's all for now sports Fans!  Prost!

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