Russian River - Temptation

Sour, Complex, Delicious

From the brewery: "Is it beer, or is it wine? 'Aged in French oak wine barrels for twelve months with distinct characteristics of fruit and subtle oak' sounds more like a description of wine than beer. But, of course, Temptation is indeed beer. Actually, Temptation is a Blonde Ale Fermented with a special strain of yeast, then aged in French oak chardonnay barrels. Flavors of wine and oak absorb into the brew throughout twelve months of aging. During this aging process, a secondary fermentation occurs using a yeast strain disliked by most brewers and winemakers called Brettanomyces. The "Bret" gives Temptation intriguing characteristics and a pleasant sourness.

Temptation is re-fermented in the bottle to create its carbonation--a process commonly used to make fine champagne and sparkling wine. Spent yeast forms a thin layer of sediment to remain in the bottle. "

The Beer

Russian River's Temptation is a very complex beer that has a whole lot going on. Make sure you have an extra carboy and some space to dedicate, because this thing is going to take about a year.

Step 1 - Make The Base Beer
Temptation, at it's heart, is really just a simple Belgian-sytle blonde ale. Simple enough, so we'll keep it that way. I have decided to go with half Pilsner and Half domestic 2 Row pale malt as the base of this recipe. A little of the more malty character of the Pilsner and a little of the simplicity of the Pale malt. For some body I've thrown in some CaraPils malt. Having read that the brewer of this beer said that there was no wheat, I figured a little CaraPils might add just a bit of something. Now, whether all those non-fermentables get eaten by the Brett/Lacto/Pedio later in the fermentation may certainly be debatable - so let frugality be your guide here if you must.
The base beer is mashed at an average temperature of 152 single-infusion style for an hour. Hop treatment is a moderate 28 IBU and I chose Sterling as it is a bit more simple to get than Styrian Goldings - another hop that you could use in this. Fermentation with a nice Belgian yeast like Bastogne Belgian Ale forms some esters and complexities to a nice, clean base beer.

Step 2 - Add the Bugs
Once your airlock/blowoff has stopped bubbling, it's time to add that great sourness. Since this one is going to sit awhile, first thing you will want to do is rack it off of the yeast into a clean carboy. Brettanomyces seems to be the main critter in this beer, with Lacto and Pedio picking up secondary duties. So, I recommend a full package of Brettanomyces (like Wyeast 5112) and half a packet each of Wyeast 5335 Lacto and Wyeast 5733 Pedio. Get these bugs in there then the waiting begins - like a year's worth. During this time the beer will probably look like it is mess and is surely ruined. Have faith, it's nasty, but fine.

Step 3 - Wood and Wine
At some point in your year-long secondary fermentation (6-8 months in maybe), you 'll want to add some oak that has been soaked in some Chardonnay. I like those Oak Cubes that are medium toast. Soak them in in about a cup of chardonnay wine in a sterile, covered container for maybe a week. Be sure to be sterile as, even though there's some alcohol involved, you don't want a whole new class of critters coming to the party. Add the wood (but not the wine) and pour about a cup or so of clean (just out of an opened, clean bottle) chardonnay into the mixture.

Step 4 - Taste, Bottle and Drink
After about a year, you'll want to start tasting your beer to judge if the flavors have developed (or mellowed) to your liking. When the time's right, bottle condition this beer in some champagne style bottles (maybe add some neutral yeast for insurance.)

All Grain Recipe - Russian River - Temptation ::: 1.065/1.008 (6.25 Gal)

Grain Bill (75% Efficiency assumed)

7 lbs. - 2 Row Pale Malt (US)
7 lb. - Pilsner Malt
1 lb. - CaraPils

Hop Schedule (28 IBU)

1 oz. - Sterling [7.5%] (60 min.)
1 oz. - Sterling [7.5%] (15 min.)


1 L starter of White Labs - Bastogne Belgian Ale (WLP510) Yeast.
Wyeast 5112 Brett B - Full Packet - Added after primary activity has slowed
Wyeast 5335 Lactobacillus - Half Packet - Added after primary activity has slowed
Wyeast 5733 Pediococcus - Half Packet - Added after primary activity has slowed


Mash at 150° to 152° for 75 min.
Sparge as usual
Cool and ferment at 68°
Rack and add Brett/Lacto/Pedio
Age about 1 yr
Add Med Toast Oak soaked in chardonnay at 6 -8 months

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