This is one of those brew days that I would consider “Dream Beer.” I have wanted to brew a Lambic-Inspired beer for a couple of years now, but have never had the tenacity to do it. That changed with two years of home-brewing under my belt and a Just Do It attitude. Today is the beginning of an adventure that should last the next four years.

Belgian brewers, historically, have approached their Lambic beers with a turbid-mash. The words scared me going into it, but once everything was under way – it made a lot more sense than the words made it seem. The gist of it is this – a true Lambic (or in the United States – Methode Traditionalle) requires 50% of the wort to be turbid, spontaneously fermented, and fermented in a neutral barrel. I’m checking off two of these three boxes, as I don’t have any empty barrels.

Before getting started on the brew day itself, let’s take a step back to this past Thursday. Prep-Day as it’s called. Everything went PERFECTLY. I had a spare bag of raw wheat, which had exactly 3.5 pounds of grain left in it. This should’ve been a sign that things the next day would go horribly wrong, but that’s for later in this discussion. Everything went swimmingly preparing for this brew – my homebrew shop had everything I needed, water was measured out, everything was sanitized… Good to go.

Then the following day, Friday, happens. Winds were high, 20 miles per hour – with gusts of 25-30. Burning outdoors has some problems, especially with wind. My burner was blowing out every 20-30 seconds. The brew day lasted 10 minutes. A totally catastrophic attempted brew-day.

That brings us to today, Sunday. Today everything went as well as it could, barring a few minor hiccups. The entire turbid mash process took just about an hour and a half and a lot of running around filling up the hot liquor tank to ensure the proper amount of water was in it. All dandy on this end.

The boil took off with a little more explosive vigor than I thought. I stepped away from the boil kettle to clean out the mash tun, and coming back – the wort was boiling over. Shit. That’s a problem. Pulled the burn way back, got the boil under control, and added the five-year-old hops in. Time to sit back and enjoy the next three hours of doing absolutely nothing. It’s a good thing it was 60 degrees out. That part went swimmingly.

The only portion of this brew day that proved to be any problem was the end. Even though I hit all numbers, pre-boil gravity, everything – I ended up with an OG 20 points higher than expected – 1.062. It was the first time I ever had to dilute a beer. The wort needed an extra 2 gallons of liquid to hit its target gravity of 1.042. This can most likely be attributed to the boil-off experienced during the boil. Whatever, fifteen minutes later and there’s boiling water to be added to the wort. Another fifteen minutes of chilling the sample pull, and the wort is at the gravity it should be at! Perfect.

Now begins the process. The wort is sitting, covered with cheese cloth, in the wood behind my house. It’ll live there overnight and (hopefully) collect all the good microflora that my yard has to offer. Who knows what is in store for this beer, but we’ll see in a year or so. It’s the start of an arduous process and the culmination of where I want my sour program to head to. I’ll most likely follow this post up in six months or so with an tasting update, but time will tell. The vision for this beer is something I’ve long looked forward to and hope to see it realized in the next few years.

This coming autumn, when I do the next batch of spontaneously fermented beer, I’ll do an actual write-up on the process. Here’s to hoping this is all worth it next Spring.