Vitesse Sour Series: Adding speed to traditional methods

Wild Mind Artisan Ales - Vitesse Blackberry


There are two typical methods to create sour beer: kettle and traditional souring. Kettle souring is perhaps the most popular method, primarily because it takes a relatively short amount of time to produce. Lactobacillus, a bacteria responsible for the tart flavor of everything from Lambics to American sours, is added to the wort near the end of the brewing process at around 120°F. The wort will sour in 1-3 days, depending on the style and targeted flavors, and then the wort is boiled to kill off the bacteria before being moved to a fermenter. Once fermented, the brewer can add fruit, more hops, or any other adjunct to achieve their final product.

At Wild Mind, we use our wild yeast to create traditional, mixed-fermentation sours, a much more time-intensive process where the wort is added to barrels or foeders to ferment and develop a range of funky and sour characteristics. This process can take several years to complete, depending on the style of beer and desired depth of flavor. Traditional sours are much more complex and can have wide-ranging styles and characteristics depending on the yeast used or the type of wood the beer was aged in.

Traditional sour beers are absolutely worth the amount of time and effort that go into them, but waiting isn’t easy.

To create beers that are complex, but still ready to drink fairly quickly, our head brewer decided to mess with the source of all that funk: the yeast.

Our yeast is at it’s best when the wort has low IBUs and simple sugars for the yeast to consume at temperatures around 70°. So we put the yeast in wort with high IBUs, incredibly complex sugars that are difficult for it to consume, and cold fermentation temperatures. Naturally. This “training” pushed the yeast to its limits, and when we put it back into ideal conditions, the yeast went into overdrive.

The now-hulky yeast can power through sugars and develop a funky range of flavors in a relatively short amount of time. We’ve used this new yeast to create traditional mixed-fermentation sours in an untraditional amount of time, including our raspberry hibiscus sour and blackberry sour. While they won’t replace or be as complex as traditional sours, these three beers are a great example of the range of flavors the yeast can develop in just a few months.

We call this series of beers “Vitesse,” which means speed in French. We’ll always have some funk developing in barrels, but the Vitesse series will provide you with some similarly complex, delicious sours to enjoy on tap.