Wulf's Webden

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A Touch of the Lambic?

Normally I bottle my homebrew about a week after starting fermentation but time has slipped by and I’ve only just got my Septale brew onto that stage after just over three weeks. Vital stats look good – a final gravity of 1.011 and a calculated ABV of 4.33%. I’ve bottled it in 16 500ml swing top bottles with 43g of sugar added after siphoning off the trub but before putting into the bottle. It will sit inside for a week or so for bottle conditioning to happen (residual yeast turning that tiny sugar boost into C02) and then I’ll try to forget it for a while before seeing what the end result is like.

It is my tradition to sample a bit of the young beer at bottling time. Often it tastes, well, beery but this batch tastes surprisingly sour. That could be the crab apple addition coming through but I wonder if there is something a bit lambic going on? Lambics are a type of Belgian beer that deliberately welcomes wild yeasts into the brewing process – described in The Telegraph as being regarded by some as “… the most quixotic and cultured expression of the brewing art” and (presumably by others) as tasting “a bit like a goat smells”.

A bit of further research on pasteurisation suggests that it greatly decreases micro-organisisms but doesn’t wipe them out altogether. For many the setback is enough that they can’t get a foothold before the amount of alcohol in the beer becomes more permanently deadly to them. I wonder though if I picked up something funky from the crab apples that got involved in the fermenting game? Last time I used them I think I boiled the liquid so it is a possibility.

Ah well, it is bottled now. Later this month I might find it has all settled down to the more expected taste. It would actually be a bit of a bonus if I discover I’ve created a lambic type beer as they are pricey and the UK selection is quite narrow. Or, the worst case scenario is that my latest 8 litres of beer is going to set me up well for setting up a chain of new slug pubs when seedlings start coming up next spring!

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