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I have been wanting to make a sour, and it turns out that I have about 5 gallons of beer in my kegs that I'd like to dispose of prior to a long vacation.

I was thinking I might be able to get a sour going with these beers following these steps, so anyone with experience, please chime in and let me know if this is a complete waste of time.

  1. Dispense the beer from the kegs into a carboy that will be used as the long fermenter. There are 2 different beers...a blonde ale and a session IPA. I will be adding some wine soaked french oak chips, since I don't have a barrel available at this time.
  2. Allow the carbonation to dissipate over a day or two with periodic agitation of the vessel.
  3. Add some fruit (not sure what yet..considering a mixture of blueberries, raspberries and blackberries).
  4. Add some bottle dregs...I currently have a bottle of Oude Tart and Tart of Darkness I was planning on using for this.
  5. Put the carboy in a dark place and forget about it for a year or so.

NOTE, I realize the IPA is not a good choice for a sour due to hop flavors fading over time, but as I stated earlier, I already have it available so thought I could make use of it.

Also, the blonde is a bit dry, but the IPA is not, so there are "some" dextrins for our friend brett to feed on.

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I don't see why this won't work, though it's unconventional. I probably would just let the carbonation off-gas naturally. You might also want to hold off on the fruit until nearer the end of the souring/aging, although if you add it at this point it will provide some more sugars for the bugs. Maltodextrin could be added as well for more sugars.

Don't forget about the carboy, though. Make sure the airlock is filled, especially over such a long time. Limiting/eliminating O₂ introduction to sours is important, due to the production of acetic acid; you're making sour beer, not malt vinegar.

Also, just to be clear: brett does not sour anything. Lacto, pedio, and other bacteria do, but brett does not.

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  • My understanding of brett is that it will produce some of the phenol flavors, and providing dextrin will give it food to munch on over time. Is there a detriment to adding the fruit now? – Matthew Jun 1 '15 at 17:14
  • Brett's awesome, don't get me wrong. And adding some more food for it is a good thing. But there's also a mistaken "brett sours beer" idea floating around beer web forums that I'm trying to help combat. I don't think there's a detriment to adding the fruit now, except maybe long-term aging/breakdown of the fruit itself. But perserved in sour beer, it should be fine, too. – jsled Jun 1 '15 at 18:54
  • Fair enough, but I didn't even elude to that. :) – Matthew Jun 1 '15 at 19:07

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