Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Flanders Red Ale Resources

Brouwerij Bockor Flanders Red
The Farmer's Daughter Flanders Red Ale that Lewy and I brewed last November turns five months old tomorrow.  I've been reading/gathering as much information as possible about extended fermentation, aging, oak character, and blending in the hope that when the time comes to declare the beer finished, I'll have done everything possible to help it make itself special.  I've come to believe that the most important parts of the process (by far) are a willingness to be patient and a knack for forgetfulness (or perhaps distraction).  I want to meddle with the beer as little as possible, and only do the things that I know are necessary to help it along.  Since the timeline for its maturation is so much longer than most other beers that I homebrew, I have to be able to put it out of my mind and let the magic happen without me messing it up.  In addition to a few print resources (Wild Brews by Jeff Sparrow; Lambic by Jean-Xavier Guinard) and excellent guidance from many of the blogs listed to the left, I've found some other useful resources online.  I thought I'd share them so that anyone else interested in brewing this amazing beer style has a starting point:

"How to Make Sour Ale: An Inquiry" by Raj Apte  -  A combination of science and personal experience written with a passion for the style and a focus on home reproduction methods.  Includes recipes.

Lambic and Wild Ale: "The Mystery of Lambic Ale" by Jacques de Keersmaecker  -  A comprehensive history and analysis of the lambic style with ingredient and technique details clarified.  Originally published in Scientific American magazine in August, 1996.

"Brewery Rodenbach: Brewing Sour Ales" by Jay Hersh  -  Presents an analysis of Rodenbach Brewery's process and technique, including information about oak aging.

BJCP Style Guidelines - 17B: Flanders Red Ale  -  The Beer Judge Certification Program's style guidelines for Flanders Red Ale.

Brettanomyces Project by Chad Yakobson  -  A doctoral dissertation by Crooked Stave's founder containing a wealth of scientific information about Brettanomyces.  

The Brewing Network - The Jamil Show: Flanders Red (mp3 download)  -  Jamil Zainashieff and John Palmer talk about brewing Flanders Red Ale at home. 

Brew Your Own - "Flanders Red" by Jeff Sparrow  -  A short but informative description of how to brew and age a Flanders Red Ale by the author of Wild Brews.  Includes three different recipes.

Great Brewers - Belgian-Style Flanders/Oud Bruin or Oud Red Ale  -  A list with descriptions of different notable Flanders Red Ales.  A good place to start considering obscure commercial examples.


  1. Good Resources.
    Are you guys planning to brew several batches and blend young and old? Or just your split batch?

    If you guys are interested I think it might be fun to get a Flanders Red tasting/blending party together. My second batch will be a year old in May.

    1. We are definitely planning to brew more batches. I plan to make a pyment next week and then the next Flanders Red. In the split batch that we did, different processes were applied (yeasts, oak character, temp control) in an effort to make them different and potentially complimentary when blended The idea of blending with as many different options available is really appealing to me-I'm sure it would be a lot of fun, too.

      I know there's no exact answer but how long would you wait until blending? I was listening to Jason Yester from Trinity Brewing talk about making sour beers at home in 4 months (only those without oak) and was surprised by the short timeline. I tasted Trinity's Brain of the Turtle at GABF last year and it was amazing.

    2. Danny, But remember the oak we used for the Flanders Red (on my side) was used in a dreg beer. So I do think the oak will be as pronounced as a fresh batch of oak.

      Just let me know the time....I checked mine and didn't see any activity. However not having a hydrometer makes it hard to see the final gravity. But I should have a new one this weekend.

    3. You can always borrow my hydrometer. I've had that thing since I bought my first extract brew kit. How many have you broken again? :)

      The timeline is the hardest part to nail down. Since the guidelines for "when" are vague or even nonexistent, it's easy to second guess yourself. I suppose that's where artistry and science diverge. I'll check the gravity on my 5 gallons and get back to you...


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