“Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight? ” – The Joker
If you are going to brew sour beer then be prepared to dump some down the drain. — I didn’t quote that because I honestly don’t remember who I heard say it. I can tell you that any sour/wild brewer that is worth a flip probably knows it.
Point is: Every time we brew with souring bacteria and wild yeast we do a dance, not just any dance…but a dance on the edge of a cliff. Most of the time we walk away having hit most of the moves, but sometimes we don’t walk away. Sometimes the dumbest little thing will trip you up and there you are face down.
“If something goes wrong then who cares? You need to learn to dump it and figure out where it went wrong. The second you taste vinegar it needs to be dumped because it’s not getting any better… this is not Kombucha.” – Lauren Salazar (New Belgium)
“ I have an idea but we never know what can happen with spontaneous fermentation and I will communicate about the beer only in case of success. ” Jean Van Roy ( Cantillon)
So here is where I am going with this short blog post. Sour and wild brewing is…wild, especially when you have wood fermenting involved. You need to be in the mindset that something might go really wrong and this beer you spent a bunch of time on is junk. Don’t fool yourself, don’t try to fruit the heck out of it hoping to cover up some major flaw. If a beer went off course (acetobacter/acetone/etc…) do yourself and everyone a favor: DUMP IT. Yeah it sucks the hard work is going down the drain or the money spent on that batch was for nothing. But… We are in a era of brewing where many homebrewers and commercial breweries want to jump on the sour/wild train. There is nothing wrong with that…if it is done properly. I’ve always said the more funk the better, but let’s make it good funk. Like George Clinton… not Rick Dees “Disco Duck”. Whatever we do as home brewers or commercial brewers can mean the difference between someone never trying wild/sour beer again to someone never picking up a bottle of a well made beer to falling in love with these wonderful styles.
We are in a “Golden Age” of reach and discovery. No matter if it is home brew or the greatest historical commercial lambic… we have the chance to show how great these styles are.
This blog post is brought to you by someone who forgot to top off the airlocks after spring on 10 gallons of his 2 year old / 5 gallons of his 3 year old home brew golden sour and just watched it go down the drain.