Abricot Ferme | Fresh-hop Apricot Sour

Abricot Ferme | Fresh-hop Apricot Sour

A brief post for a special beer.

In March I brewed around 50 litres of fresh-hopped Pils, using solely hops grown at our home. A month later I kegged 30 litres, then racked the remaining 19 litres or so onto 5.5 kg of Central Otago apricots.

For extra excitement, to the apricot portion I added a slurry of Brasserie de la Senne’s house Brettanomyces bruxellensis, a vanilla pod, and an Amalgamation II-laden, gin-infused oak spiral.

First trial of the D-type kegs
Not cats were included in the making of this beer

After three months of resting on the apricots, it was all hands on deck when bottling the apricot sour. For bottle-conditioning, I was very fortunate to be given three seasons of urban Christchurch honey from a hobby apiarist.

At that stage, time, fruit, Brettanomyces from Brasserie de la Senne, and bottle dregs from 3 Fonteinen and Moa’s Sour Blanc had achieved an overwhelmingly Craftwork-esque aroma and a gentle tartness

 Here's hoping bottle-conditioning with honey wasn't a touch ambitious

On bottling day, I sat down and tasted my way through the three honey varieties I’d been gifted. I was stunned by how different each smelled and tasted – I couldn’t believe they were from the same hive!

Spring:

  • Bright, intensely floral, fruity aroma
  • Lightly urinaceous, though not offensively so – more in the realms of gooseberries and blackcurrants
  • Very sweet palate

Summer:

  • Heavy stone-fruit aroma, with a bees-wax note
  • Thicker consistency than Spring, and a less-sweet palate

Autumn:

  • Strong aromas of mead, prominent citrus
  • A very runny honey, less sweet than Spring, with a nuanced, tangy palate
My favourite of the bunch was the Autumn honey, however my plans to use it for bottling took a turn, when later that day I found it foaming violently from its jar! I suspect the honey had become somewhat carbonated over time due to low-level yeast activity. Over a couple of hours with pressure released, the CO2 bubbled out causing a rather sticky mess. I was concerned that the sugar content was possibly changing hour-by-hour due to fermentation, so let the Autumn settle down and used the Summer instead.

Through dilution of 10 g honey in 100mL water, taking a hydrometer reading, and getting myself rather confused by a bunch of calculation, I worked out that the Summer honey had an SG of 1.036. Honey is assumed to be 95% fermentable, hence targeting 2.5 volumes of CO2 I used 82 grams of honey per 10 litres of beer.

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