Sour Wit, take 2


Farmhouse Saison fermenting with lactobacillus

I attempted a sour-worted wit a while back.  The process had a few hiccups and created a tasty beer, but it wasn’t nearly sour enough.  There isn’t any magical formula since we’re at the mercy of the bacteria.  However, I have learned that since I can’t rush it I shouldn’t try to make it fit my schedule.

In the past, I started the souring during the week and then on brewnight, usually Friday night, I would do the boil and then ferment.  This put the bacteria under a timeline: get sour by friday or that’s it!  This time, however, I’ll just be preparing the wort for innoculation and then letting it ride until it smells and tastes right.

Recipe-wise, I’ve been scouring the web for details and discussions of Crooked Stave’s St. Bretta farmhouse wit.  This was my first Crooked Stave beer that I got to try out in San Francisco at the excellent Monk’s Kettle.  It is a really nice beer.  Sour enough in the finish, but not overly aggressive that non-sour beer drinkers would run away.  There are a couple of new items for me, namely using Golden Naked Oats.  Supposedly they have a nice rich and fruity flavor but can contribute enough proteins to enhance mouth feel.

For the yeast, I wasn’t sure what Brett to use.  Various boards have some details of what is used in St. Bretta.  I was tempted to try two Bretts, but I think this time I’ll pitch Brett C.  A number of threads on Homebrewtalk forums mentioned getting a tart, almost sour flavor in beers fermented with Brett C.  This is unique since it is generally accepted that Brett by itself does not produce souring acids, besides Acetic (think vinegar) in the presence of oxygen.  Several homebrewers asserted that their Brett C. beers did have a significant tart, sour note without being acetic.  That’s good enough for me to try.

Here is St. Woxford, version 1.

Recipe Details

Batch Size Boil Time IBU SRM Est. OG Est. FG ABV
5.3 gal 60 min 9.0 IBUs 4.7 SRM 1.052 1.010 5.5 %
Actuals 1.046 1.01 4.7 %

Style Details

Name Cat. OG Range FG Range IBU SRM Carb ABV
Witbier 16 A 1.044 - 1.052 1.008 - 1.012 10 - 20 2 - 4 2.4 - 2.9 4.5 - 5.5 %


Name Amount %
Brewer's Malt, 2-Row, Premium (Great Western) 6.5 lbs 59.63
Wheat Malt, Ger 1.5 lbs 13.76
Acidulated (Weyermann) 1 lbs 9.17
Munich Malt 1 lbs 9.17
Oats, Golden Naked (Simpsons) 8 oz 4.59
Barley, Flaked 6.4 oz 3.67


Name Amount Time Use Form Alpha %
Mt. Hood (20120604) 0.28 oz 60 min First Wort Pellet 6.1
Styrian Goldings 0.35 oz 10 min Boil Pellet 3
Ahtanum 0.35 oz 7 days Dry Hop Pellet 5.2


Name Amount Time Use Type
Calcium Chloride 3.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Gypsum (Calcium Sulfate) 3.70 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Epsom Salt (MgSO4) 0.90 g 60 min Mash Water Agent
Coriander Seed 0.17 oz 5 min Boil Spice
Orange Peel, Bitter 0.17 oz 5 min Boil Spice


Name Lab Attenuation Temperature
Brettanomyces Bruxellensis (WLP650) White Labs 70% 65°F - 72°F
Brettanomyces Claussenii (WLP645) White Labs 70% 65°F - 72°F
Lactobacillus Bacteria (WLP677) White Labs 70% 65°F - 72°F


Step Temperature Time
Saccharification 147.9°F 90 min
Mash Out 168°F 10 min


Pitch lacto for up to 5 days to get level of sour needed.

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