How to brew a Sour Beer...

Original text of the post...
Heheh...gotcha! I'm not going to porport to know how to do this. I've never done it. Mostly for the reason that Nate brought up on the last post, contamination. I mean I could go find something online and link to it, but, I'm thinking that this might be more fun. So, go ahead show me whatcha got! I dare ya. Dell, I'm not letting you off the hook here ;-) See what you started. You sourheads are always causing trouble.

What do you know about brewing sour beer? Is it hard? Is it tricky? Will those bad bugs take over your homebrewery and give your dog a case of mange?

The floor is open...

Some good books are available. You may also find old (and new) homebrewing magazine articles are helpful.

Amazon: Books about brewing sour beer styles



Nate said...

I was just reading some of Pierre Rajotte's "Belgian Ale" book, specifically the section on Oud Bruin - what we think of as Flemish sour ales, for example. I imagine Hieronymous' "Wild Brews" would offer great info, too ... need to pick that one up soon.

Anyway, seems like the success of the sour beer is to get the right proportion of lactobacillus growing in there and imparting is sour-juicy lactic acid tang. Normally the bane of brewers, it's the essential ingredient in a good sour ale, one that must be cultivated and perpetuated over the years ... in a wooden cask.

So, I'm back where I thought I was ... I need to get a barrel before I can make a "true" sour beer. Otherwise, I'll have to experiment with adding lactic acid into the glass fermenter and seeing what happens.

Adam said...


I hear ya. Barrels I've seen are pretty expensive and they're usually pretty big too.

Still hoping to hear about what other options people have explored. Albeit arguably not really "authentic" or "true", but, they might be cheaper and more accessible.

Of course The Indiana Homebrewers' Club might be able to do this as a group project and split the cost of a barrel and try it as a group brewing experiment. That would be cool and produce a "true" sour beer.

What kinda barrel would you use anyway?

kmudrick said...

Jamil Z talks about doing sour beer in some of his podcasts (The Jamil Show on The Brewing Network.)

Specifically, the two I recall are the Berliner Weisse and the Flanders Red (rodenbach grand cru'esque) episodes. I don't remember off the top of my head, but I do know he talks about sanitation issues and all. Pretty sure for the Berliner Weisse, he just dumped in some of the wyeast lactobacillis they have available.

It is a fun, easy going show - I'd recommend it. I should have taken notes though, apparently :)

Anonymous said...

I'm no expert but I do have 30 gallons of sour-ish beer currently fermenting. (10 gallons of Oud Bruin, 20 gallons of Flemish Pale)

On the wort production side - no contamination issue

When fermenting, I'm very careful

all vinyl tubing and plastic buckets are trashed after use (or you could label them "sour only")

I generally move the fermenting beer to glass asap.

The brett yeast strains, lacto, pedio tend to leave an ugly
"skid mark" even on glass, but that can be removed with a caustic.

Don't be afraid - I think the best beers are created when brewers take chances.

risk vs reward

The wild card here is time.

Can you wait 18-24 months for the results?

Thats why I keep a large cellar of comerial beer. To wet my whistle.



Anonymous said...


"Wild Brews" by Jeff Sparrow

will give a solid foundation to anyone looking to come over to the dark side.



Nate said...

oops ... sorry. Sparrow wrote "Wild Brews", Hieronymous wrote "Brew Like A Monk".