How to Brew a Kettle Sour

Kettle souring has become an incresingly popular brewing method that allows the brewer to produce sour beer in a relatively short amount of time. Kettle sours are often seen as “one dimensional” compared to traditionally soured beers, but are great vessels for practice and experimentation and can make an exceptional product when done correctly. Below is an outline to my method of kettle souring. It assumes that the reader already knows how to brew all-grain, and is looking to expand their arsenal of brewing techniques.

Overview:

The difference between brewing clean and kettle soured beers is the addition of LAB (lactic acid producing bacteria) before primary fermentation. In many methods (including this one), you will boil your wort to kill off bacteria in order to avoid the risk of “contaminating” your equipment.

Process:

Assemble equipment/recipe/ingredients. Berliner Weisse and Gose are two common styles brewed with this method. Each are intentioanlly sessionable and receptive to fruit/spice additions, so they are exellent styles to practice/experiment with. Many brewers don’t use hops in their kettle sours.

Mash, vorlauf, and lauter into your boil kettle as usual. Consider mashing low to produce more fermentable sugars.

Bring your wort to a boil, or close to it. Hold your wort at a minumum of 180F for at least 10 minutes (boil it if you are looking for some peace of mind) to kill whatever bacteria may have survived the mash. The goal is to sour with exclusively the intended bacteria.

Cool your wort. Plate chillers or copper immersian chillers work very well to cool down wort quickly. Each bacteria strain performs differently in different temperatures, but most are optimal in the 100-120F range (LAB sources will be posted later).

Pitch your bacteria. Once your wort has cooled, pitch your bacteria into the kettle. There are two main goals at this point: to maintain temperature, and to limit exposure to oxygen. If you have co2 handy, purge the headspace thorouhgly and then use plastic wrap or tinfoil to keep as much oxygen out as possible. If you don’t have co2 available, rest plastic wrap on top of the wort (think like you do to avocados). As far as maintaining temperature, heating wraps are available to purchase online or from your local homebrew store, although blankets/insulation work just fine. Many homebrewers will simply leave their kettle on the burner and fire it up at different intervals to raise the temperature back up. ** If you are brewing a larger (more than 5 gallons) batch or are using swansons/goodbelly, you may not need to worry about the temperature drop.

Wait. LAB typically takes between 24-48 hours to reach desired level of sourness. Feel free to measure pH periodically (every day or so), although I have had success with both 24 and 48 hour souring. The longer you wait, the more you risk oxygen exposure and thus the production of off flavors.

Complete your brewing as you would a clean beer. Bring your wort back up to a boil to kill off the bacteria making to avoid “contaminating” your equipment, add hops, cool, pitch yeast, etc. Kettle soured beers take roughly the same amount of time to ferment as a clean beer. Keg or bottle your result, and enjoy!

Sourcing your Bacteria: 

Goodbelly Probiotic– This is my preference when brewing kettle sours. The mango variety offers the most neutral result, while the fruited ones contribute more or less depending on their flavor. I have been able to find the 32oz cartons in my local Safeway Supermarket, and have had a lot of success pitching 32oz per 5 gallons wort.

Swanson’s L. Plantarum – reasonably priced on Amazon and truly offers a neutral flavor. I’ve used 10 pills to 5 gallons with success.

Commecial Pitches – Whitelabs, Wyeast, Omega, and Gigayeast all have reliable pitches. Whitelabs and Wyeast are more likely to be available at your local homebrew store. They come in capsules/bags specifically for 5 gallon pitches.

Other options – Yogurt, unmilled grains (malted barley), kefir, sourdough. All of these are viable options with more info on each of them here.

I tend to go for the probiotics because they are cheap, available locally, and contain mostly L. Plantarum – a bacteria that performs well even as the wort cools down.The Milk the Funk Wiki has a ton of good info about different lacto strains and their effectiveness in different temperatures.

 

Best of luck, and happy brewing!

Beer of the Week: Stone Brewing Company 19th Anniversary Thunderstruck IPA (8.7% ABV)

Stone celebrated their 19th Anniversary this weekend with their annual beer festival at CSU San Marcos. It is only fitting that while my friends sip on whales in Dr. Bill’s corner (ridiculous rare beer list here), I sit on my couch 400 miles away with a bottle of the double IPA brewed for the occasion. While I am pretty bummed that I wasn’t able to make the pilgrimage this year, this beer was a solid consolation.

stone thunderstruck IPA

For their 19th Anniversary, Stone did what they do best: make a killer double IPA. Thunderstruck IPA features a variety of Australian hops that have emerged throughout the west coast IPA scene over the last year. Galaxy and Vic Secret in particular provide aromas of tropical fruit and citrus, and will undoubtedly become staples in the next generation of hoppy pales.

I was able to snag a bottle at Trader Joes for $7.49, and was happy to see that I caught it less than 3 weeks after its bottling date. Thunderstruck poured a crystal-clear golden color with a lingering white head, and a huge peach/citrus aroma. While big on paper at 8.7% ABV and 95 IBUs, this one was an easy drinker. Find a bottle near you using Stone’s “beer locator” tool, and let me know what you think.

Cheers!

Beer of the Week: Modern Times Oneida Pale Ale (5.8% ABV)

 

modern times cans

Just over a year ago, Modern Times Beer opened their “Lomaland” tasting room and brewery in the Point Loma/Midway area of San Diego (think way back behind Phil’s BBQ). With over $60,000 in crowd-funded backing from an extremely successful Kickstarter, Modern Times was truly able to hit the ground running. If you’ve seen any Modern Times beer in liquor/grocery stores, then you’ve probably noticed that they only sell their beer in 16oz cans, foregoing the familiar tradition of large, brown, 22oz bottles that we call bombers… Until now.

I introduce to you, The Beeriodical’s second beer of the week selection: Oneida Pale Ale, by Modern Times Beer. Released to shelves just over two weeks ago (Fri, 6/27/14), Oneida is Modern Times’ first bottled release, and evidence of their continued popularity and success in San Diego over the last year.

oneida

This beer is all about the aroma. The second I popped the cap off this bottle, I could smell the bright, hoppy, goodness. Oneida is double-dry hopped with Cascade and Nelson Sauvin hops, which means that Modern Times adds (even more) hops to the beer once the fermentation process has finished — adding a ton of hop aroma. Modern times considers Oneida “uber-pungent” and heavy on the bright tropical fruit and grapefruity citrus, which I’d say hits the nail on the head. They were even generous enough to give us a scaled down recipe in the 5-gallon batch size homebrewers are used to.

I’m a big fan of hoppy Pale Ales, so in my mind Oneida is definitely a hit. I’m hoping that Modern Times’ success with this one will lead to much more bottling in the future. Now that they’ve celebrated their first anniversary and opened their new tasting room, “The Flavordome” in North Park, we can rest assured that they’ll be around for a long time. Cheers!

Modern Times Beer
Lomaland Fermentorium
(619) 546-9694
3725 Greenwood St., San Diego, CA 92110

 

Maui Brewing Company: Hawaii’s Craft Beer Paradise

MBC signConveniently located off highway 30 on a little slice of paradise called Kahana Village, Maui Brewing Co. and Pub has been serving up delicious craft brew and grub since 2005. From the limited release Lemongrass Saison to fan favorites like the Bikini Blonde Ale, Big Swell IPA, and Coconut Porter, Maui Brewing Co is a flagship of quality when it comes to craft brew on the islands. Coupled with a friendly vibe and unbeatable island hospitality, this is one location that is a must visit if you find yourself on Maui’s west shore.

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Having previously sampled the Big Swell IPA and Bikini Blonde Ale back in San Diego, I began my tasting journey here with a flight that included the Black Swell Black IPA, Homefront IPA, Mana Wheat, and La Petite Blanca Witbier. The best and most interesting of this group was easily the La Petite Blanca. Recommended by our server, Travis, this special brew only comes around about 3 times a year and is then aged in Chardonnay barrels for about 2 years, lending a unique, sweet flavor that finishes like a white wine.

MBC flight

Once I had polished off my first flight, our food arrived. I ordered a fresh Ahi sandwich which was lightly seared on both sides and placed on top of crispy whole wheat bread and a bed of locally grown greens. Other items on the menu that caught my eye were the Spicy Pineapple Tofu Curry and Coconut Porter Beef Stew. Although Maui Brewing Co is first and foremost a brewery, the food alone was worth coming back for.

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I concluded my meal with a second set of tasters that included the Zythos American IPA, Sirens Song Düsseldorf Altbier, Valhalla Wheat Wine, and Lahainatown Brown Ale. The standout from this group was the limited release Lahainatown Brown Ale which gave off a strong, toasted aroma and had the classic nutty finish. Before heading out, I grabbed a four pack of their award winning Coconut Porter for the road as well as a shirt and pint glass.

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As a San Diego resident and craft beer enthusiast, I felt right at home here at Maui brewing Co. With available growler fills, eco friendly canned six packs, and even guest beers such as the Modern Times Black House Oatmeal Stout, Maui Brewing Co left nothing to be desired. For a true taste of the islands and an unbeatable dedication to the local economy and it’s residents, this is absolutely the place to be.

 

Maui Brewing Company
(808) 661-6205
910 Honoapiilani Hwy 55, Lahaina, HI 96761

Beer of the Week: Stone Brewing Company’s Unapologetic IPA (8.8% ABV)

Unapologetic IPA
Stone Brewing Company (Escondido, CA)
Style: Double IPA
ABV: 8.8%
IBU: 85-90
Release Date: 6/30/14

stone unapologetic ipa

When I heard that Stone was putting out an IPA as the next beer in their collaboration series, I was pretty stoked. Like many craft-beer fans that came of age in San Diego, I learned to appreciate good beer from the IPA style, and great IPA’s will forever hold a special place in my heart. Stone has been releasing collaboration beers since 2008, including familiar names like the Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout, Dayman Coffee IPA, and Suade Imperial Porter — all of which have been hits in my mind.

“Unapologetic IPA,” which was released in 22oz bottles throughout the county yesterday, is a collaboration between Stone’s Brewmaster Mitch Steele, Heretic Brewing Company‘s Jamil Zainasheff (out of Fairfield, CA), and Beachwood Brewing‘s Julian Shrago (from Long Beach). While the concept of an IIPA is far from innovative, Unapologetic boasts an ingredient list that includes “new and experimental hops (Azacca and Belma, as well as HBC 342 and Steiner 06300, yet-to-be-named varieties from Washington’s Yakima Valley). The idea of tasting hop varieties so new that they hadn’t yet been named was something I was really looking forward to.

Now to the beer! I cracked this bottle open after a long day of work and volleyball… needless to say it had been in the back of my mind all day. The pour was a light gold with a lasting creamy head. The aroma was wonderful — heavy on the tropical fruits and citrus West Coast IPAs are known for. The taste itself was typical of the style: dry and bitter, but with a noticeable melon flavor. The lingering bitterness was a little much for my palate, and the alcohol flavor was heavier than I would have liked, but at 8.8% ABV I wasn’t surprised. I’m definitely curious to taste this one of draught — looks like I’ll be stopping by Stone Liberty Station this weekend. Unapologetic doesn’t really stand up to Enjoy By and Ruination/RuinTen in my mind, but as a collaboration beer it doesn’t make much sense to compare them. Pick one up soon and let me know what you think!If you’d like to read more about Stone’s Unapologetic IPA, you can check out their blog here.

Thanks for reading! If you want to see a certain beer featured on our “Beer of the Week” segment, shoot us an email at beeriodical@gmail.com and we’ll make it happen!

Cheers,
The Beeriodical

Beer-Gift Ideas for Father’s Day

Fathers day is just around the corner and you better be getting your dad something awesome. Need some inspiration? We’ve made a list of 5 uniquely San Diego gift ideas that any beer lover would appreciate.

1. Glassware. If your dad doesn’t already have a pint glass set, consider getting him one. TrueBeer.com has a number of different styles of pint glasses for sale that come in sets of 2, 4, or 6 glasses. If he already has pint glasses, check out some specialty glassware. Tulips, snifters, pilsner glasses, and most others come in sets of 2 for under fifteen bucks.

snifter beer glass

2. Filled Growler. There are over 80 breweries in San Diego, and pretty much all of them make their own growlers. Typically you buy the 64oz glass growler (around $5-8) and then you can pay another $10-15 to fill it up with whatever beer you think your dad would like. After you’re done sharing the beer inside, your dad can go back whenever he wants for refills. Don’t do this too far in advance – growlers are best enjoyed the same day they are filled, and will probably be flat if you wait longer than 48 hours.

growler

3. Beer Books. There are tons of books out there about beer. Whether your dad is a master homebrewer or has only recently considered getting into the hobby, books on homebrewing are informative, interesting, and most importantly, about beer. How to Brew by John Palmer is an accessible and comprehensive book on homebrewing that would be perfect for someone just getting started. If your dad has a couple of homebrews under his belt, consider Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher — its a more advanced perspective on brewing that can teach him how to make his already great beer even better.

how to brew cover

4. Beer Festival Tickets. San Diego hosts dozens of beer festivals throughout the year, with ticket prices typically ranging from $30-100. Consider buying a pair of tickets and spending an afternoon sharing great beer with your dad. If you’re looking for a festival in the near future, the San Diego County Fair is hosting the San Diego International beer festival the weekend after Father’s Day (June 20-22, 2014). Your $58 ticket includes entrance to the fair, a 1oz souvenir glass, and 3 hours of unlimited sampling of over 400 different beers. Tickets Available Here

san diego beer festival

5. This bottle opener from Stone. I picked one of these up as a birthday present for friend a couple of months ago and it is seriously badass. The $35 price point may seem high, but after your dad uses this massive, hand-sculpted, metal gargoyle opener, you won’t be disappointed.

stone bottle opener

 

Brewery Spotlight: 2kids Brewing Company and Pacific Brewing Company

Over the last decade, Mira Mesa, home to a number of distinguished San Diego breweries including Green Flash, Alesmith, and Saint Archer,  has developed  into one of the most brewery dense areas in San Diego. Scattered among these big names are a number of nanobreweries (that brew less than 4 barrels per batch) who offer a more intimate tasting room experience. Many of these hole-in-the-wall, garage style breweries don’t bottle, and some don’t distribute at all — which means if you want to try their beer, you’ve got to come on over.

We spent a Saturday afternoon visiting 2kids Brewing Company and Pacific Brewing Company — two tiny, brand new breweries located off of Miramar Road and Camino Ruiz just west of the I-15.

2kids Brewing Company:

2kids bar

2kids opened their doors to the public in September 2013 after successfully raising $25k in funding through their own Kickstarter project,. Run by a friendly husband and wife duo, 2kids offers a familiar variety of beer styles modeled after their own homebrew medal-winning recipes. Two of our favorites were the Incredulous, a deliciously refreshing 3.1% ABV English Pale Ale,  and the Asterix Belgian Golden Strong Ale, a smooth, fruity Belgian.

2 kids brew

Pacific Brewing Company:

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After tasting our way through 2kids’ menu and a bucket of peanuts, we strolled across the parking lot and into Pacific Brewing Co.  Started in March 2014 by a pair of ex-Stone brewers, Pacific’s tap list included five core beers and their Simma’ Down Stout — a recent addition. The beers were traditional, smooth, and balanced, and should serve as an excellent foundation for Pacific to grow upon.

pacific brewing co

I’m looking forward to seeing how these two breweries will develop over the next couple of years. Best of luck to both!

2kids Brewing Company
(858) 480-5437
8680 Miralani Dr. #123, San Diego CA 92126
http://www.twokidsbrewing.com

Pacific Brewing Company
(303) 819-7086
8680 Miralani Dr., San Diego CA 92126
http://www.pacificbrewingco.com