Kaberne Fran Sour Pale Ale

Cab Franc SourIn late September Gregory and I started talking about doing a new sour ale.  Based on the success of his Chenin Blanc grape sour pale and with the annual Mountain Homebrew & Wine Supply grape crush on the horizon, we started discussing brewing a sour to showcase a red wine grape.  Lately I have been gravitating toward the firm tannins and notes of leather, tobacco, pepper and earth found in many French and American Cabernet Francs (if you stumble upon a bottle of Watermill’s 2010 Cab Franc snatch it up, it’s impeccable).  It may come as a surprise to those who know me well (since I’m usually imbibing a beer of some style), but I am also a fan of great wine and worked intensively around Italian wine for three years shortly after I moved to Seattle.  So with little deliberation, we put in our order for 25 Lbs. of eastern Washington Cabernet Franc grapes.

We split the grapes in half and used 12-13 Lbs. in the creation of this sour and we used the remaining grapes in our Kaberne Fran Rye Saison.  This beer is almost two months into an approximately year long process, so check back as I will be updating this post periodically and documenting the progress.  Below is our recipe and process:

Cab Franc GrapesKaberne Fran Sour Pale Ale

Recipe Specifics

Batch Size (Gal): 5.5
Total Grain (Lbs): 13.75
Anticipated OG: 1.069
Anticipated SRM: 4.0
Anticipated IBU: 14.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75%
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes


80% – 11.0 Lbs. Belgian 2-Row Pilsner
07% – 1.0 Lbs. U.S. Vienna
05% – .75 Lbs. U.S. Munich – Dark 20L
07% – 1.0 Lbs. U.S. Wheat


0.35 oz. Magnum (Pellet, 13.0% AA) @ 90 min.


1.00 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.
12.50 Lbs. Cabernet Franc grapes


Wyeast 3763 Roeselare Ale Blend (starter)
Yeast cake from homebrew Framboise (Roeselare + The Lost Abbey Red Poppy bottle dregs)
The Ale Apothecary Rum Barrel & White Peach La Tache bottle dregs

Water Profile

1.00 tsp Calcium Chloride
1.00 tsp Gypsum

Mash Schedule

Single Infusion – 60 min @ 155F


09.29.14 – Made a stir-plate 2L starter with 1 Wyeast 3763 smack pack.  Brewtoad suggests 260 billion cells to ferment 5.5 gal.  Cold crashed and decanted morning of brew day.

Brewed 10.01.14 with Gregory

10.01.14 – Chilled wort to 65F before pitching yeast starter.

10.03.14 –  Steady fermentation and holding steady at 63-65F.

10.18.14 — Transferred to secondary fermentor and added yeast cake from Gregory’s Framboise.

11.19.14 — After 32 days in secondary on the grapes, we transferred to a tertiary fermentor and added the bottle dregs from The Ale Apothecary’s Rum Barrel & White Peach La Tache.

04.??.15 — At some point in April 2015 we pulled a sample and noticed some diacetyl notes present so we pitched the brett slurry from a funky pale ale we brewed with The Yeast Bay’s Funktown Pale blend with the hopes that the brett would clean up the beer.

02.11.16 — Sampled from carboy and happy to note that the brett devoured the diacetyl.  Very sour and big acidity.  Grape juice and cherry notes.  Took final gravity reading, transferred to bottling bucket, added champagne yeast and corn sugar for 2.2 volumes of CO2 and bottled the entire batch.

Tasting Notes — 02.18.17 (bottle pour)

Lovely burnished red-orange color and well clarified.  Perfect spritz of carbonation with a white head that dissipates quickly.  Great horse blanket-funk brettanomyces esters dominate the nose with hints of straw, red fruit, and tobacco in the background.  No diacetyl detected.  Deep red grape juice and cherry notes on the front of the palate with a hint of alcohol.  Delicious, assertive black pepper flavor from the Cab Franc grapes in the middle with a round, velvety acidity and gripping tannins bringing this beer to a drying, leathery finish.  Moderate brettanomyces funk melds with notes of oranges and firm lactic acid tartness akin to citric acid which lingers and dries out with delicate notes of booze.  Very red wine-like!

Calculated OG: 1.074
Calculated FG: 1.006
Approx. ABV: 8.9%


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