Sour Beer Production at Home – PT3

Sour Beer Blending

Following on from Part 1 & Part 2 I transferred my old ale out of the barrel, exactly 4 months to the day that it was brewed, I’ve transferred it into a clean and purged Corny keg for storage and blending.

It’s been an interesting journey tasting the development of the beer as the relatively large surface area of wood to volume of beer has meant that changes happen extremely quickly.

I checked the flavour and aroma on the 13/2/15 and the beer tasted fantastic, I judged it to be absolutely spot on, great barrel character and excellent funk, ready for transfer and bottling, I got waylaid and tasted it today and judged it to have too much barrel character….in 2 weeks it went from being perfect to requiring remedial action!

I also tasted the Flemish red and although that tastes good it does have some way to go as we’re going for sour character (tart, acidic) with this beer the flavours need more time to develop; as oppose to funky characteristics (horse blanket, barnyard) in the old ale. So I’ll continue to monitor this monthly, until it’s closer to being ready then switch to weekly monitoring.

Current gravities are;

Old Ale: 1007 down from 1015 at the end of fermentation.

Flemish red: 1005 down from 1011 at the end of fermentation.


In short, this means I’m going to blend it back with some regular old ale (clean fermented, non-funky) I have stored in keg for this purpose. The blending process is as follows;

– Take a 100ml sample of my funky old ale and add up to 5ml additions of the clean old ale, mix and taste to determine the percentage of blend required. This stage is completely subjective and will depend on what I want the finished beer to be like.

– Once I’ve determined the percentage blend required I’ll then convert this to litres to be added, i.e. if I know 15ml into 100ml is perfect this means I need to add 1.5L (clean) to 10L (funky).

– To add this to the beer I’ll place the funky old ale keg on some scales and transfer, using an Auto-Syphon, the specific weight of beer (1L = 1kg) from the clean to the funky keg and mix with a sanitised paddle.


I thought I’d try something a little different when bottling this beer, it’s now as funky as I want it to be and I need to control the carbonation in the finished beer. So I decided to reseed it with a yeast at bottling that has a high alcohol tolerance but rather than use a beer yeast I’ve used a wine yeast that’s a ‘killer yeast’ hoping that it will arrest any further break down of long chains of carbohydrates and rely on a measured sugar amount for refermentation.


To stop the barrel drying out and becoming unusable you’ve got to get your next beer in there quickly. Ideally I’d like to transfer the old beer out, rinse the barrel and then transfer the new beer in on the same day but there’ll be about a week long delay as my new beer ferments.

The aroma from the used barrel is amazing, the burgundy aroma has melded into a sort of sweet and funky blackcurrant and balsamic vinegar character that I think will go nicely with what I’m calling a Belgian Black ale. I’m aiming for a juicy full bodied funky raisinesque Imperial Black Ale that’s smooth and will complement the funk. Recipe as follows:

57.4% Pilsner malt

30% Munich malt

3.3% Cara Aroma

3.3% Special B

3.1% Cara Bohemian

2.9% Carafa Special III

OG 1.082


I’ll ferment the beer using a Belgian ale strain and then transfer to the barrel.

Before reusing the barrel I’ll rinse with warm water to remove most of the yeast residue that remains without damaging the interesting flora that I’ve created and then let it go to work on my Belgian Black ale.

Formerly of Fullers, Thornbridge and Buxton. Now a freelance Black IPA advocate, homebrew geezer and creator of Baby Back Bacon Black IPA™

1 Comment

  • Reply May 6, 2015

    Paul Taylor

    This is great James, loving reading about the progress as my Solera has only been in the barrel about a week and a half!

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