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Fermentations, Ruminations & Meditations

Sour Spring

Apr 7, 2015

Today has been a big day for the sour project. Amid praise and support for the Crew Selections Berry Barrel Sour there is much buzz about the next sour cider- when, how much of it… and how much of that Barrel Berry is left? So here is the skinny on the sours.

A soured cider is a cider fermented or finished with intentional use of alternative organisms. In the fermenting world this means Brettanomyces yeast, Lacto bacillus, and Pediococcus bacteria. Of these three there are many strains, each with its own character/lifestyle requirement. Typically we have fermented cider using a non-aggressive Saccharomyces species that will produce the majority of the alcohol. Then we finish with the addition of Brett strains and bacteria, depending on the desired outcome. Around here, I know who is sensitive to what (Brett is reasonably controlled by sulfites and a low pH) and I know the dynamics of the juice I start with (pH, acid levels, tannin levels, starch, fermentable sugars). What I have learned from the beer world is that each barrel will be different, and success is achieved by blending.


Blending and aging with batches of independently soured barrels gets to be a lot like creating a recipe, or a nightly special in a restaurant. The components sit in front and my tool belt is stocked with tricks of the trade-- different finishing sugars, fresh fruits, conditioning choices (in-bottle is the preferred choice generally to contain the contamination risk that these alternative fermenter’s represent), and of course finding the exact point of balancing delight. Drew Zimmerman has always provided good counsel in trying to find the “yum! factor”. The sip that you take and your uncontrolled response is just that...yum! I don’t say yum, but I do find that point where my whole being agrees that this is the mark.  I think I say Hmmm mmm.


There are only 8 cases left of the Barrel Berry Sour, available here on the Farm in Chimacum, WA. The next new thing is in progress.  You can come out to the cidery and I'll show you the ‘back alley’ that we keep these barrels in.  I haven’t yet decided how to finish the coming round of soured cider,  but many intriguing ideas are bouncing around. Sam and I delight in the crafty little batches this sour project has turned into, and each time around we are reminded that this is intricate management of micro organisms. And we are glad that our batches are small, controlled (ish), and each one has a great story to tell.

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