Let’s start with how we make the Purgatory Pomegranate, our Berliner Weisse inspired beer.
First we mash in as normal to create a standard wheat beer base wort. Then we rack this wort into a souring vessel. We toss in some uncrushed grain and hold the wort at 90 degrees for 3 days. During this time, a bacteria called Lactobacillus becomes active, starts consuming some of the sugars in the wort, and create the citrus-like sour profile that makes this beer so tasty! After the souring process has completed, we rack the wort into a boil kettle, boil as usual for any beer, and then rack into our fermentation vessel. Yeast is pitched and beer is made.
There are some inherent challenges with this beer though. Firstly, we’re dealing with a bacteria that while tasty in the Purgatory Pomegranate, is entirely undesired in any of our other beers. We have to take particular care to avoid – and have the utmost concern regarding – cross contamination. Secondly, because we’re dealing with a “wild” beer, there’s always a chance that some Lactobacillus makes it through the finishing process and continues to thrive during the fermentation process. In the same vein, there’s also the risk that one of Lactobacillus’s cousins (Pediococcus and/or Brettanomyces) can decide to join the party and further sour the beer. While these two other bacteria/yeast are sought after in certain styles of beer, they’re not what we want in ours.
So what happened this time? Well… we’re not quite sure other than we believe one of the 3 bugs mentioned previously survived the process and has begun fermenting the base beer. Because of the inherent risks to our other beers associated with a “wild” fermentation, we have no choice but to abandon this batch and try again. Beer lovers should not fret though – a number of our homebrew friends are quite excited to get their hands on this batch so it will not be senselessly poured down the drain. It will become some exceptional sour beer – made by homebrewers and enjoyed by homebrewers.
We’ll be starting the next batch of Purgatory Sour very soon and hope to have it back on-line in a couple weeks. In the mean time, we hope you will come and enjoy one of the 6 other beers we have on tap!!