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I tried to create a sour beer from a sour mash from the second runnings of a Double IPA. I kept the mash tun in the garage, but unfortunately it rained and got colder than I thought it would. (I live in Los Angeles, so I wasn't too concerned about the season at the time.) The net morning it smelled horrible -- like butyric acid, so I know it got colder than the recommended temperature. But nonetheless I carried on!

I boiled the concoction for an hour and added some Simcoe and Centennial, and later WLP001. (Unfortunately I had to boil it inside the house because of the rain, and the whole house smelled like vomit for a week.) After fermentation was done, it did not taste very good. It still smelled pretty bad, and had a strong cheese taste. I thought all was lost, but then thought to try and add some brett (WLP650) a week later. That was on 2/24/2017.

I've been tasting it every so often, and I have noticed the smell and cheese taste have dissipated over the months. The main taste is very acidic/vinegary (pH was at 3.84 in August), but it is kind of rough by itself. Plus that faint cheese taste/smell that lingers. I'm thinking I can blend this with some other beer, but am also wondering if it is worth it. I have about 1.75 gallons worth.

If I do blend it, should I do it now or wait a few more months? And what would work best for a blend? Or will this thing taste perfect after sitting for at least a year?

Grain bill for the DIPA:

  • 13.25# American 2-row
  • 0.3# Crystal 40
  • 0.3# Crystal 60
  • 0.75# Corn sugar (dextrose)
  • That sounds nasty to me. Cheers to you for doing everything you can to salvage what seems to be a lost batch. – Ryan Nov 9 '17 at 22:02
  • It's actually not as bad as it sounds. The smell is very faint, and the taste is very vinegar-esque. I'm leaning towards keeping it to blend, but am still pondering. – memnoch.jones Nov 17 '17 at 6:30
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smelled horrible -- like butyric acid, so I know it got colder than the recommended temperature

Butyric acid producers like Clostridium favor temps around 104°F (37°C), which is also a similar temp as what is favored by some lactobacillus strains, so they way you control its production is by lowering the wort pH.

but then thought to try and add some brett

Brettanomyces can convert butyric acid into Ethyl Butyrate at low levels, however, a few strains of Brettanomyces bruxellensis have been shown to produce butyric acid. (Same article linked above.)

the main taste is very acidic/vinegary (pH was at 3.84 in August)

Generally, pH around 4 is considered "tart" and levels closer to 3 are "bracing" or "face melting". In my experience, 3.8 is kind of a threshold where at or above is an easy drinker and below they become puckering.

I have about 1.75 gallons worth. If I do blend it, should I do it now or wait a few more months? And what would work best for a blend? Or will this thing taste perfect after sitting for at least a year?

Blending sours is a technique often utilized to experiment with different flavors, often combining young and old sours, but shouldn't be used to "fix" a defect or cover up an off flavor. Since you only have 1.75G, at this point I think I would try to learn from the experience as much information as you can to prevent it in the future and toss it. With rancid/vomit/fecal aromas or flavors, especially in absence of alcohol (dangerous!), you really want to scrap and start over. Blending is just going to ruin more than one beer.

YMMV. Good luck!

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In reality if the brew is that malodorous and sour to taste then it is probably worth discarding. 1.75 gals is nothing in the greater scheme of things. The alternative is attempting to drink it! :0(

However as this is more of an experiment than a production run - why not keep it and see what happens. If you have a the spare space and the container is spare then it might be interesting to see how it goes. Generally speaking acidity does not disappear it remains or increases. IMHO only the lesser aromas and flavours tend to mute and reduce in intensity. Hop bitterness is one thing that diminishes over the months and some "flavour errors" like diacetyl and other fermentation intermediates can dissipate in the bottle/keg over time.

One thing I have learnt is that brews change over time and usually for the better (if kept anaerobic). This works with wine, beer and naturally fermented sodas (eg real ginger beer). Why not see what it does to this one? I do emphasise that once its acidic, it rarely (if ever) get less so.

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In a sour ale the acid is suppose to balance the malt opposed to hops bittering to balance.

Sounds like you have an acid base for a blending batch. If you have a PH meter check it. Then blend with a normally fermented beer that has little hop bittering to get to a pH typical of the sour style you're going for.

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    Ditto to this, plus maybe make that normally fermented beer with an extra amount of specialty malt, like Special B or Melanoiden, to compensate for Brett eating a lot during aging of the blend. – Roman Nov 9 '17 at 0:22
  • from the description and amount involved I would not advise blending this - or even drinking it! – GrainMother Nov 11 '17 at 8:55
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Yesterday the pH was 3.7. I drank a little and realized I made vinegar! The cheesy smell is gone, and the vinegar taste is overwhelming. There must have been too much exposure to oxygen. Oh well. Now the question is whether to keep it for cooking.

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