Dark Sour | Tasting Notes

Six weeks ago I put down my first double batch on the brew tree. Aside from a low efficiency, the brew day went well, producing a smooth, minimally roasty wort that I intended to split and turn into two very different beers. 

Following primary fermentation with Danstar Nottingham, I racked half (20L) of the batch onto 750 g of Zante currants, 250 mL of TYB Amalgamation II slurry (a 5-strain Brett blend), 250 mL of Merlot Cabernet wine, and a single medium toast American oak spiral. The recipe for the base beer and tasting notes for the Cacao, Vanilla, Coconut Milk Stout portion can be found here.

Racking onto the oak and currants
The milk stout was just the ticket for the colder months

Fermentation activity restarted immediately on transfer of the plain beer onto the currants, tailing off at around 5 days. On day 6 I suspected adequate oak character would have been imparted, hence I racked the funkifying beer into a CO2-purged keg and attached a spunding valve. Some degree of Brett-driven activity was clearly ongoing, as the gauge read a pretty consistent 5 PSI in between tasting samples.

The currants took a quick dip in StarSan prior

Tasting notes 21.7.19

This beer has now been sitting in the keg at ambient (15 – 18° C) for the past 5 weeks with spunding valve attached. My final refractometer reading was 5.8 Brix, though it’s difficult to determine the exact ABV given the currants and wine will be contributing to the alcohol content.


Pours black in a deep glass, dark brown when held to the light. Light tan head, excellent retention.


Cherries, mild oak, some soft coffee notes according to Sophie. A degree of light, fruity funkiness that I’m attributing to the Amalgamation II.


Surprisingly sour for a beer with no bacteria involved. No real acetic character either so I’m picking this has been contributed by the Zante currants. The mouth-coating, pleasingly complex sourness initially makes me think of North End Brewing’s Oude Draak (an excellent, moderately acetic Oud Bruin), though the more subtle coffee/dark chocolate notes send this beer on another tangent. There’s a vinous aspect, with mild to moderate oak character, and a hint of whisky and vanilla.


Relatively thin , which is no shock given the low OG and addition of Brett.

Drinkability and notes

Being my first foray into the realms of using wood in beer, and second attempt at a Brett-containing brew, I was relatively pleased with how this turned out. I’m excited to see how this develops over time in the bottle, so will keep a few on hand for tasting in a year or two – I may even look to trial a couple of blends to see what this brew contributes to other beers. For future renditions, I think some time on sour cherries or blackberries would be just the ticket.

Happy funking!


Tart, oaky goodness

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