23B - Flanders Red Ale (cheater)

Style: 23B - Flanders Red Ale

I have always enjoyed a well made Flanders Red; a stand-out being Cuvée Des Jacobins Rouge. This is not that beer. One day I'll attempt a proper Flanders with the lactobacillus, 6+ months of aging, and blending. This time it's a cheater. I'm using Lallemand's Philly Sour yeast to hopefully create enough lactic acid in the fermentation to pass as a "Flanders Red style" (Narrator: it didn't). 

What does that mean? First, Flanders Red Ale is... a Red Ale. So I'm putting together a recipe that should stand on its own as a solid red ale. Then go from there. Characteristics of the style include sourness (lactic acid), oak, and a fruity character (no actual fruit). Traditionally this is achieved with several months of aging in oak casks. I'm planning to do it with cheater yeast, lactic acid if necessary (Narrator: it is.), and brandy-soaked oak spirals. Here we go!

Full recipe is on BrewersFriend, but here's the TL;DR:
  • 2020-10-3: Brewday
  • malts: Munich, Pilsner, Special B, Chocolate
  • hops: [Magnum] (Saaz)
  • yeast: Lallemand Philly Sour (G2)
  • OG: 13°P; FG: 1.8°P; ABV: 6%
  • 2020-10-8 (+5): keg secondary
  • 2020-10-12 (+9): oaked brandy and lactic acid added
  • 2020-10-13 (+10): moved to keezer (low+slow carbonation)
Pics or it didn't happen: grains ready for milling

Grains milled

Mash temp

Floor Manager Steve


Brew session beer: House Märzen from Oktoberfest

Boil the things!

Dextrose and late hops (Saaz)

Into the fermenter

Wort sample

Yeast slurry from the Berliner Weisse

OG: 13°P as expected

Away we go

2020-10-7 (+4): chilled fermenter sample and FG check

2020-10-7 (+4): Looking to be finished; this worked out to 1.8°P. I don't trust the refractometer for FG, just use it to get an idea. I'll check with a hydrometer when kegging.

2020-10-7 (+4): Uh oh. Not low enough pH. We'll see how it finishes out in the next week or so but I may have to cheat the cheater and add lactic acid to get where it needs to be.

2020-10-7 (+4): picked up some cheap (Korbel) brandy to soak the oak spirals. These will steep for a couple of weeks before getting added to keg-secondary.

2020-10-8 (+5): hydrometer check looking like 1.007

2020-10-8 (+5): keg secondary

2020-10-12 (+9): oaked brandy and lactic acid to be added

My math worked out to 38ml for 19L in the keg. Since I don't have any small measuring cups with ml, I used my GABF cup which has 1oz (29.5ml) marked. This is less than the 0.2ml/100ml I thought was a good sour adjustment, but I'd rather be under and add more later than overdo it. 

2020-11-10 (+38): Flanders (cheater) Red is Red! Flavors are melding together as it conditions but I think it's mostly where it needs to be. There's an oaky presence and slight sourness - don't think I would want it any more acidic than it is. 

2020-11-20 (+48): all cleared up with a nice red hue. Tasting more oaky than sour, but the acidity is there. Nice maltiness and not too sweet. Dry finish. Really a good beer even though it's a 'cheater' Flanders.  

2020-12-23 (+81): Finally picked up a commercial Flanders for comparison. Sour level is about the same. The Rodenbach is much more fruity: cherry and raspberry without any added fruit. The house version is more malt and oak.