Ain’t Skeert

Posted on December 13, 2012 by Nathan

When I was putting together my lineup of beers for the brewery, I went around and around on what types of beers people might like to drink.  I’ve got close to 75 different homebrew recipes I’ve brewed over the last 8 years, and narrowing that down to something that I wanted to brew, and, more importantly, something that people would like to drink is quite a challenge.

So I made up my mind that I was basically just going to brew the things that I wanted to drink, and try to get a little bit of a range in my offerings.  Something a little dark, something a little lighter, and something that was just different.  If people love them, great, if they hate them, that’s ok too.  I just want to do something different and distinct.

I say it to people a lot: you may love it, you may hate it, but you’ll definitely remember it.

(and don’t get me wrong, I hope you love it more than hate it….)

That’s how I ended up with the Pan American Stout, the Chateau Americana, and the 928 Local.

I’ll be perfectly honest, I love all three of them, but I fully expected to have to swap one of them out for something out.  The Pan American I thought was a pretty sure thing, the Chateau was a good beer, but it’s very different if you’re expecting a ‘typical’ pale ale, and the 928 was certainly something different.

And, apparently, you all have an appreciation for that.  I dare say that the 928 may be my most popular beer.  It’s one that I fully expected to not be a hit at all, and to just fade into the category  of ‘tried that, people didn’t really dig it’.

I was in Pay N Take a couple weeks ago, chatting with Scott about the next beers they wanted to put on tap, and he was asking about what I had.  We talked through the Pan American, and the Chateau.  He was a fan of both, but asked what else I had.  I told him about the 928, thinking that he wouldn’t want to make the jump to an 8% beer with some offbeat flavors to it from my domesticated wild yeast.

“I ain’t skeert, lets do it.” was his response.

So I brought them a keg of 928, and they cashed it in no time.

It warms the heart to hear that.

Actually, it makes me say something along the lines of ‘f___ yeah’.

I’ve always told people that I don’t want to make the same beer as everyone else, because then I could just go buy it on the shelf, I wouldn’t need to make it, and everyone seems to be digging it.  And that’s really good to hear, because I’ve got some plans……

Plans that include sours, barrel aged beers, and (of course) more imperial beers.  I’ve told several people about some of these ideas, and they’ve all said ‘bring it on’.  The sours will be a first for a Flagstaff brewery (maybe an Arizona brewery?), and although there have been a few places doing barrel aged beers, I hope I can bring something a bit different to the game.  It should be a lot of fun.

To that end, Justin and I did a little experiment a couple weekends back, and the results of that experiment are going to be on tap tomorrow night at the brewery.  We tried out a technique called a ‘sour mash’.

It’s a technique that the Germans developed to make sour beers while only using the 4 ingredients of the Reinheitsgebot, or purity law.  The law stated that only malt, hops, water, and yeast could be used in brewing beer.  Since sour beers technically require another bacteria to lower the pH and sour the beer, it was a bit of a conundrum as to how to produce these.

Interestingly, one of these bacteria is called ‘lactobacillus’.  That may sound familiar because it is the main bacteria used in producing yogurt.  What is really interesting is that this bacteria is commonly found on the outside of malted grain.  Usually, you kill this bacteria during the mash by raising the temperature up high enough to do it in.

But, the Germans figured out that if you perform the mash, lower the temperature back down to lactobacillus range (about 110F), and add some more grain, then the lactobacillus can do its magic, produce some lactic acid, and acidify (or ‘sour’) the beer.  You then continue the brewing process, which kills the lacto and locks in the sour.  The downside?  The process takes 2-3 days to do it correctly.  We started on friday evening, kept the temp up to 105-110 over the weekend, and finished the batch on sunday.

This is one of the ways that Berliner Weisse beers can be made.

Which is exactly what we made.

And we’ve got 5 gallons of it at the taproom for tomorrow night.  It’s got some Sorachi Ace hops in it, which give a really nice lemon flavor and aroma to it, which is just enough to lure you in before the sour hits you.  And it’s delicious. Come by and try a taster of it, or get a 12-ounce pour if you’re really brave.  (sorry, not growler fills since we’ve only got 5 gallons)

The beauty of our experiment is that we made sure we could scale it up to the big system, which has my brain spinning about what to do with this technique.

With great power comes great responsibility.

I ain’t skeert, you?

Post Categories: Beer, brewing, sour

3 responses to “Ain’t Skeert”

  1. Brian Gunn says:

    Wish I was closer to Flagstaff. Been following along since you started this up and your beers sounds fantastic. If I’m ever in the Flagstaff area I’ll be sure to stop by.

  2. Mark Gullo says:

    Nathan, glad to hear your rocking the Eastside! Will hopefully make it on on Thursday. 2 Wheels Good

  3. Buck says:

    Loved my initial keg of stout.
    Loved my second keg which was the dunkelweissen.
    Currently loving my third keg which is the 928 farmhouse.
    Nate your beer rocks!

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