Flanders Style - American Wild Red Ale

Okay, here we go! This will be my first foray into the sour beer brewing world. 2 years ago I didn't even know that a sour beer existed. Then I had a Berliner from New Glarus, and my world turned upside down. Then I had that New Glarus Old English Porter and the vinegary flavor of that freaked me out and I got turned upside down again. The next month I stumbled upon an awesome event thanks to mnbeer.com and went to Where the Wild Beers Are. The month after that event,I thought....those people are crazy. Then something happened inside of me...deep down, bugs were growing, and multiplying in the very depths and the soul of my palate. I starting craving these funky, funky, wild ales. My brewhouse (Sir Dankhouse) has been worried about this moment that is about to commence, the moment the relentless bugs will come in contact with the beauty and shine of his clean and shiny surfaces. He(Sir Dankhouse...my brewhouse) has feared these creepy, sour bugs for fear of completely turning it's master to the darkside of the funk. Due to his valid concerns...I have made a promise to my beloved brewhouse to always keep my new found dichotomous nature in tact, only bringing the funk and the clean together when completely necessary to blend and mellow, and always with careful deliberation.

Okay...that was weird. Anyways. Here's what's up.

Recipe- Jamil's Flander's Red Ale recipe, but with American ingredients.

***I'm planning on Making this recipe, and then making the actual version of Jamil's recipe with imported malts and hops in order to try and taste the difference between American equivalents of Imported grains. Probably not the best beer to try that on, because this is going to take a year and a half to finish. Maybe I'll try that with another recipe. A Belgian Dubbel maybe.

Dank Funk Red Ale

%     LB OZ  Malt                                      ppg   °L
54%  8   0     Briess Bonlander Munich        30     10
29%  4   8     Rahr Pilsner Malt                    34     2
7%    1   0     Rahr Flaked Corn (Maize)       40    1
3%    0   8     Briess American Crystal 80L   33    80
3%    0   8     Briess American Crystal 120L 34   120
3%    0   8     Rahr White Wheat Malt           34    5

 Original Gravity
1.070? (oops, spilled the glass that had my sample)
Final Gravity
1.008? or lower hopefully
19° SRM / 36° EBC
(Light Brown to Medium Brown)

time                   oz      variety           form    aa
FWH 60+ mins 1.0     US Goldings  pellet  5.0
FWH 60+ mins 1.0    Willamette     pellet  5.5

30 IBU

8% ABV

Wyeast 1056 yeast cake  and Wyeast 3763 | Roeselare Ale Blend - Belgian style ale strain, a sherry strain, two Brettanomyces strains, a Lactobacillus culture, and a Pediococcus culture.

I've got everything I need. The malt, the hops, the yeast(bugs), and the water. Empty better bottle, check. Time, check.

Brew day to come very soon. Please chime in if you have any knowledge of Wild Ales.
I'm planning on mashing this at 156 degrees so that the Belgian yeast doesn't have as much to work with, and so that the Funky yeast/bacteria have some complex sugars to break down for a nice sour ale. Planning on fermenting this at around 68 degrees for 12-18 months.

1.26.11 - Brewed last night.  I came out to be exactly the color that I wanted it.  It's a beautiful orangish-redish hue, kinda like Red Rock in Utah.   Mashed at 156 for 60 minutes, sparged at 167 for 30 minutes.  Boiled for 70 minutes, and cooled it down to 70 degrees with a wort chiller in about 15 minutes, maybe less.  I had a sample ready to do a gravity reading and I knocked it over so I don't have a gravity reading unfortunately.  It was very sticky though!  I pitched it on top of the yeast cake of Wyeast 1056 from my American Dark Ale as well as the pack of Wyeast Roeselare Blend.  It was actively fermenting 2 hours later!  This beer is INFECTED!

2.6.10 - Drinking a New Belgium La Folie and dumped the dregs of this sour brown into primary with the other bugs to up the diversity and complexity.
2.25.11 - Kevin and I took a sample and a hydrometer reading.  It's only down to 1.026 which was a little surprising.  I really was assuming it was going to be down to around 1.015 or lower already.  As expected, it doesn't taste great.  It wasn't sour at all, but did have a bretty horseblanket flavor.  Smelled a little bit like funky cheese as well.  Hopefully my IBU level isn't too high which may prohibit the souring bugs.
3.4.11 - Have this sitting in my basement at 59 degrees and all of the sudden it has vigirous fermentation action again....hmmm wonder what's going on in there?
3.16.11 - Pulled a sample out to taste and take a reading.  It's definitely starting to come around and smell and taste more like intended.  The sourness is coming on a bit and taking over the brett.   Hydrometer reading was at 1.002 so it's safe to say that there isn't much left to ferment.  Hopefully this gets nice an acidic over the next 12 months!
6.23.11 - Sampled again and tested gravity.  Maybe came down one more point.  Taste isn't great right now.  Drank a bottle of Jolly Pumpkin - La Roja and dumped the dregs into the mix!   This isn't acidic at all right now so need to get the acid going in this a bit.  Also used the dregs from De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale (Demon Fish)
9.11.11 - Dregs from Surly 5 went in which has Brett A.  Also one oz. of medium toast French Oak went in that had been boiled for an hour and then soaked in Chardonnay for 1 month.  Took a sample and it's definitely getting more sour.  Nothing crazy yet, but it's changed sooo much.  It's much thinner now, much less malt flavor, and the brett is starting to get overpowered by the acidity.
12.18.11 - Transferred 3 gallons to a 3 gallon better bottle for long term aging.  This 3 gallons will hopefully get pretty sour over the next 1-2 years.  I may feed it some Maltodextrin eventually.  I plan on using this portion to blend if it does get really sour...if not, then I'll just bottle it as is.  the sample is tasting pretty dang good!  Caramel, Cherries, and tartness in the nose.  Flavor is a little oaky, cherries, and finish's a little sweet.  I wouldn't say it's sufficiently sour yet though.  It's really tasty right now and would be a good entry level sour for someone who hasn't tried one before.
With the other 3 gallons of Flanders I added 4 lbs of local tart cherries that I picked this summer.  I tasted the juice of this and they are definitely nice and tart!   I'll let this sit for at least 6 months and then I'll probably bottle them up or age a little longer!
1.29.12 - Sampled the 3 gallon plain batch and it really smells, tastes, and looks amazing.  It tastes so similar to rodenbach, but maybe even better.  I'm going to bottle one beer out of it, and carb it up to sample.  That will give me a good base line on how to bottle and carbonate the rest of the batch. 


  1. Sounds like a pretty amazing project, looking forward to hearing more as it progresses. You get my email about making a dry, citusy Saison? Any advice?

  2. I hope I gave you good advice. Cheers and let me know if you have any other questions.



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