(512) Brew News


Stainless Is Overrated by Kevin - Owner/Brewer
November 2, 2010, 9:16 am
Filed under: Brewery Floor

Along with much of the rest of the craft brewing world, we’ve found ourselves somewhat enthralled with sour beers recently. This year’s Great American Beer Festival afforded us the opportunity to taste a huge variety of world-class sour ales from around the country, ranging from funky to tart, from intriguingly pleasant to nearly unpalatable. Through tasting this gamut of beers we were able to gain a better notion of what works and what doesn’t in sour beer.

The interesting thing about sour beers is that they have very little history in the United States, so essentially everything we tasted was an experiment of some sort. Combine that with the fact that sour beer production requires the introduction of wild and oftentimes unpredictable strains of bacteria and yeast to the beer, which yield very different flavors and characteristics depending on their environment, and you’ve got a very mysterious and alluring beer genre on your hands. Now you can see why we’re so smitten.

So, in the spirit of half-cockedness, we decided to do some experimenting of our own. We bought a few barrels, threw some wild critters in and crossed our fingers. Actually it was a little more systematic than that. Earlier this month we became the proud owners of 4 brand new American Oak barrels made by World Cooperage. For those of you who’ve never seen a fresh oak barrel, it’s a work of art. Oak barrels make ideal vessels for sour beer because of the porosity of the wood. Essentially, once a barrel is inoculated with bacteria or wild yeast, it’s reached the point of no return and will inoculate anything else that’s put into the barrel (much to the dismay of the world’s winemakers). This works perfectly for us, as it will allow us to maintain a constant and consistent source of bacteria.

On inoculation day we sprayed the insides of each barrel with a strain of Brettanomyces that we’ve been culturing in-house for over 10 months. We then added a dose of Pediococcus (aka Satanobacter) to each barrel and finished off the cocktail by filling the barrels with freshly fermented (512) BRUIN. This beer is our recently released fall seasonal Double Brown Ale. We feel the malt character of the Bruin will work well with the sourness provided by the bacteria and yeast. At least, we hope it will. The beautiful thing about an experiment like this is that there’s a fair amount of mystery involved.  Nothing like brewing sour beer to take you back to the days of “Relax, don’t worry. Have a homebrew.” After filling the barrels we did as Dr. Papazian prescribes, and will now let the beer age for months. We can’t yet provide an E.T.A. for this experiment. As we mentioned, souring microbes are interesting creatures, and simply can’t be held to a timeline. However, look forward to some interesting experimental sours coming out sometime in the (somewhat) near future.

In the meantime, try some sours from other breweries, if you can get your hands on them. (Spencer recommends Monk’s Café Flemish Red)

Cheers!

The (512) Team

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4 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I am a huge fan of Duchesse De Bourgogne… exciting to see sours taking hold in the US. I’d love to drive in from Houston to sample this when its done!

Comment by Jerald

That is very cool. So have you had to take precautions to make sure the Brettanomyces doesn’t infect other non-sour parts of the brewery? Hear tell that stuff can be pretty pesky.

Comment by Alan Stein

[…] Before we share our thoughts on it, here are some details about the beer. (512) filled four new, medium toast, oak barrels with the 2010 batch of Bruin (their hoppy brown) and inoculated the barrels the wild yeasts brettanomyces and pediococcus and laid them to rest for 11 months. You may recall them talking about it 11 months ago. […]

Pingback by (512) Wild Bear Preview | Austin Beer Guide

[…] Before we share our thoughts on it, here are some details about the beer. (512) filled four new, medium toast, oak barrels with the 2010 batch of Bruin (their hoppy brown) and inoculated the barrels the wild yeasts brettanomyces and pediococcus and laid them to rest for 11 months. You may recall them talking about it 11 months ago. […]

Pingback by (512) Brewing Wild Bear Preview « Beer Town Austin | Austin Beer




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