We are getting closer and closer to being able to release the beers that embody one of our major initiatives we had planned for 2020: barrel aged beers. In recent posts, we discussed the element of the unknown that accompanies the production of these type of beers as well as the steps we have tried to implement to limit potential undesired side effects of venturing into the unknown. While the focus of these posts has been on the use of wooden barrels, there is actually one other intricacy related to this production method that we have mentioned but not shed much light on: wild yeast and bacteria.
Before modern science resolved the mysterious nature of fermentation, brewing relied quite heavily on these organisms. Because their existence had not been discovered, brewers relied on yeast and bacteria that either floated in the air or resided in their wooden tanks and implements to settle in the wort they produced and turn it into beer. While this production method gave birth to the amazingly intricate sour beers of Belgium like Lambic and Gueuze, it also meant that a lot of beers that did not benefit from souring came out with a lot of undesired off flavours and had less than consistent reproducibility.
The most well-known of these wild organisms are Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces, the former being responsible for acidity in not only sour beer but also a plethora of foods from yogurt to kimchee. Today we will focus on the latter as it is the defining aspect of our upcoming release: Farmer’s Table w/ Brett.
Brettanomyces has a unique flavour and aroma character that is unlike anything else and must be experienced to understand. Descriptors include barnyard, horse blanket, and leather, none of which on their own sound very appealing, but when used in combination with the fermentation character of beer, it can produce an amazing level of depth and complexity, even in simple beers that don’t rely on high ABVs or insane amounts of hops.
That was the concept of one our favorite collaborations of 2019: Farmer’s Table. Made with Upright Brewing of Portland, Oregon, this 3.5% ABV table Saison was all about simplicity, with the harmony of all the flavours and aromas of malt, hops, and yeast combining to create a delicate complexity. We used a portion of that beer to conduct a secondary fermentation with Brettanomyces, and we are happy to announce it is finally ready for release. After 10 months of ageing in a stainless tank, an additional layer of subtle complexity has been imparted to the beer, making even better than the original version we fell in love with. What it lacks in the flashy numbers of our other releases in this series, it more than makes up for in drinkability—a true Saison in every sense of the word!