Sour on Extract? Try Homebrewing with Leftover Hot Liquor Tank Water

BYOB by | Aug 2016 | Issue #115
Illustration by Ellen Crenshaw

Banished to dusty brewery shelves by advanced brewers, cans of sticky extract syrup and bags of fuzzy powder linger, destined for starters or, in desperation, to make up for gravity shortfalls. But what if it doesn’t have to be that way? What if you can squeeze a little more brewing into those precious brew sessions?

My last brew day was a mega-project where I brewed mead, an automated small batch and a 15-gallon all-grain batch. Why yes, I am kind of nuts! For the cherry on top, I grabbed some jars of extract that I had for a project that I failed to do and used my leftover hot liquor tank (HLT) water to knock off a non-boiled batch of brew.

As we wrapped up the brew day, I put 4.5 gallons of 130°F water from the HLT into my old 7-gallon kettle and stirred in a can each of Briess Pilsen Light LME and Briess Rye LME. After 10 minutes of stirring to dissolve, the wort settled around 110°F, and I pitched a leftover East Coast Yeast BugCounty vial. Next, I flooded the kettle headspace with CO2 (to prevent horrible smells) and added the lid with weights. The kettle sat in my “warm” SoCal garage for three days, dropping to a pH of 3.3. I then boiled it for 15 minutes, chilled it, and pitched US-05 to ferment.

My creation might be anathema to purists, but ultimately I got a tasty sour for very little extra time investment. All hail “easy beer.”

Berliner Roggenwhat
For 5.0 gallons at 1.044 OG | 1.8 IBU | 5.4 SRM | 5.2% ABV

Malt
3.3 lbs Briess Pilsen Light LME
3.3 lbs Briess Rye LME

Hops
0.125 oz Magnum pellets | 12.0% AA | 15 minutes

Yeast/Bugs
1 vial of East Coast Yeast BugCounty
1 packet Safale US-05

Procedure
Mix the extract completely into 4.5 gallons of 130–140°F water and top up to 5 gallons total volume. Cool to ~110°F and pitch your bugs. Fill the headspace with CO2, cover the kettle top with plastic wrap and weight the lid. After 24–72 hours, depending on culture freshness and desired sourness, bring to a boil and add hops. Quickly chill and pitch with yeast. Ferment and package as usual.