Remember beer in bottles? Maybe go ask your grandparents about it... because there really was a time, a long long time ago, when breweries filled up skinny-topped, fragile glass containers with beer and that’s how you brought it home. Crazy, I know!!!
But that was at least 10 months ago, and times sure have changed since then. Yeah, the modern can has its advantages when it comes to being lightweight, easily recycled, less breakable, and generally doing a real bang up job of protecting beer from the evils of oxygen and light.
But bottles still have their place, and that’s because they are perfect for the one thing cans aren’t so good at: packaging mixed culture fermentation beers - also known as “funky beers”, or as we sometimes call them, in our beautiful native Pittsburgh dialect, “sahrs”...even though it can be a bit of a misnomer.
To be clear, I’m not talking about the tasty category of beers commonly known as Kettle Sours, or even Clean Sours. Stuff like Gose, Berliner Weisse, and still-emerging beer styles sour IPAs, that can finish up in a couple weeks
I’m talking about real live mixed culture fermentation beers that can take a year or more to get there. Where the finished beer contains active cultures with some combination of lactobacillis, pediococus, brettanomyces, and more ordinary brewer’s yeast. These styles may or may not actually be tart in flavor, but they are definitely more challenging to produce! And given the risks of cross contamination involved, they are generally less common than kettle sours these days.
But they don’t really work well in cans. Bottles, finished with a cork and a cage, are one traditional package and that’s because they are ideally suited for the higher carbonation levels and longer maturation and cellar aging.
We sort of quietly released a beer last year in this 750ml cork and cage format called Saison La Seconde. It’s our Premiere Saison that’s been fermented with our favorite farmhouse yeast, and then secondarily aged on brettanomyces in red wine barrels for a year. We held it for about 3 months before the first release to let it develop, and now that it’s been a full year, and the Brett character has really come through, we’re ready to release more bottles from this same batch.
But I did start this off by saying that we recently bottled some beer... and it’s the third time we’ve made THIS one, so it might sound or look a little familiar. And even if you’ve not had it yet, it might taste a little familiar too:
From the label:
CAN YOU FIND THE BIG HOP IN THIS BEER?
It’s actually the same exact recipe, but fermented with a Brettanomyces-Lactobacillis culture, and then conditioned in red wine barrels for about a year.
It's ready to enjoy now, but will continue to develop and evolve in the bottle for years to come.
Light tartness, with flavors of blood orange and pink grapefruit pith make for a delightfully refreshing drinking experience.
Both of these beers will be flowing at this Saturday’s GOOD WOOD Fest, along with eight other East End Beers, some funky, some not.
And we’ll be releasing both of these in bottles together at the Brewery and the Strip District Taproom, just as soon as they are ready. Think February.