Everybody remembers their first sour beer. The special sour face, the disparaging look, the weird funky smell, the puckering as it hits your lips. Some people never get past the first taste - it's just not for them, and I get that. If I was forced to categorise myself as a beer lover I'd go with hophead rather than sourface, but there's no need to ever categorise anything when it comes to beer. I like it all, and I want to brew it all, preferably right now.
Traditional lambic beers are of course spontaneously fermented. Left to the elements in wide shallow fermentors until the wild yeast magically drifts in through the window or peeks hungrily out from its hiding place, dives head first into the cooled wort and gets to work. The process is an evolutionary one that takes months and goes through several phases of fermentation and infection.
Replicating this in a dining room in Hampshire would be a challenge. Fortunately those clever people at Wyeast have harvested and cultivated those weird wild strains and packaged them in convenient pouches, fuelling the dreams of home brewers everywhere that they can initiate the perfect lambic fermentation right there in their dining room (a pseudo lambic, or pLambic). What could be easier right?
Well, I'm not that naive. I don't have to rely on open air fermentation but I do certainly need to provide the right environment to fuel the process. A solid, authentic base beer with some room for the wild stuff to work post primary fermentation, good sanitation, a sensible recipe and of course lots of patience are all important, especially the last one. After some thought and research, I settled on this:
Despite the simple hopping schedule, this will be the most expensive brew I've made to date, so I'm determined to make it work. Brew day was straightforward and primary fermentation is already underway. This coming weekend I'll be transferring to a carboy, adding the wild yeast and a huge dose of sugary pomegranate juice to fuel the fire. I say fire. It'll be more of a long, slow smoulder for at least the next six months. More and more pomegranate juice will be sacrificed along the way. Watch this space!