La Lanterne Rouge is in the bucket fermenting as we speak, I can finally say. Brew day went well, which made me happy as it was my first time trying a concentrated stovetop boil. Winter brewing in Northern Ontario sucks, I’ll get that out there. Either the propane freezes and the boil is anemic, or there is too much steam to see the boil and I end up overshooting my gravity. My solution was to try doing a concentrated stovetop boil in a 20 quart. pot, and adding sterile water after to get my final gravity.
I’ll spare you the mathematics as I mostly threw caution to the wind and basically made it up as I went. I figured I’d mash/sparge using my normal grain bill for a 5 gallon batch, but aim for 3 gallons at the end of the boil. I would then use Beersmith’s dilution feature to figure out what I’d need to dilute. Although it took a while longer to get a good boil going on the stove, it worked out well and I ended up with a 1.081 OG for 3 gallons. I was aiming for about 1.056 going into the fermenter, and Beersmith told me that by adding 1.5 gallons of water would get me at 1.055 OG in the fermenter. I ended up with just shy of 5 gallons of wort, which was a dark red.. I then added my med. toast oak chips.
I had a pack of Wyeast 3763 Roeselare blend which is recommended for Flanders Red. It contains all of the bugs needed to sour this beer, including Brett, Lacto and Pedio. Some people ferment with a regular ale yeast and then add the Roeselare blend in secondary, but the 3763 has some Saccro in it, and it has been felt that by pitching in primary you get a more sour beer.. which is fine by me. I wanted Rodenbach Grand Cru level sour. Unfortunately the pack I had was about 6 months old, so after smacking I had no visible signs that it was working 6 hours later. I tossed it in 500ml of leftover wort from the boil, and planned on pitching the next morning once it got going. Well that didn’t exactly happen.
I woke up, ready to pitch my raging starter only to find that the starter had absolutlely no signs of fermentation with the yeast sitting on the bottom. On to the interwebs to find that 3763 is a notoriously slow starter, and to be patient. I emailed Mike Tonsemiere and he urged me to get it going with a neutral ale yeast like S-04. I started to think, well what’s the worst that can happen.. it gets an infection? Mike for those that don’t know is well known in the homebrew community for being well versed in sour beers, his homebrew blog is a regular on my list (Mad Fermentationist), so I figured I should really listen to him. I did decide though to give it another 24 hours and see what happens.
Much to my delight 48 hours later, I woke up this morning to some nice froth on the surface of the wort.. we are in business. See you next year La Lanterne Rouge!
I’ll definately do this stovetop method for regular gravity beers this winter, it was easy despite the fact my wife really doesn’t like the smell of brewing.