Brew Q & A: Piña Agria

We caught up with Brewhouse manager, Bill Beymer, to discuss our latest Cellar Series release Piña Agria. Here’s what we learned:

Q: What was the inspiration behind Piña Agria?

A:  Our Resident Engineer, Matt Bailey, dreamed this one up more than two years ago.  He had a feeling the pineapple fruit would work well with the sour brewing process so he put together a recipe.  He first brewed this beer on his home brew system and he realized how well the flavors complement one another.  He then scaled the recipe up and brewed it on our 5 Barrel Pilot System and voila! A new Cellar Series beer was born.

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Q:  What are some key flavors you taste in this beer?

A: Pineapple is the first thing you smell when you bring it up to your nose and it mingles harmoniously with the sour lactobacillus and the earthy brettanomyces in the beer.  As your tongue first touches the beer you receive a pleasantly acidic shock to your tastebuds and immediately after you will begin to feel a warming sensation working its way through your entire body.  The pineapple and lactobacillus continue to dance pirouettes on your taste buds as you experience other tropical flavors like guava and passion fruit.  You may also taste the subtle sweet breadiness of the malt as it vies for your attention amidst the pineapple tartness.

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Q: How was the brewing process for this different from the typical brewing process?

A:  The sour brewing process is not always an easy one to execute, and it can take a long time.  There are always a lot of variables that can make it extremely difficult and it is critical that we keep the entire process isolated and controlled.  The base beer is brewed and initially fermented just like most of our other brews in our brew house.  Once primary fermentation is complete, we introduce a “cocktail” of lactobacillus and pineapple juice and the souring process begins.  This cocktail or sour stock is made up separately from the base beer and we make sure that the acidity and flavor of it is exactly the way we want it.  The sour stock will sometimes be a mix of samples from other barrels that we have aging in our Woodside facility.  In the case of the Pina Agria, it began with a small sample from just one barrel.  While tasting Friek barrels last year, Matt identified one barrel that would be perfect for his original pineapple sour so he collected a small portion of it to use with his homebrew.  Once you have developed your ideal blend, you can add unfermented wort to it and grow it to the volume necessary to sour the entire large batch.  All along the way, you have to maintain proper temperatures to enable the lactobacillus to stay healthy and you have to be vigilant with cleanliness in and around the vessel it is residing in.  Ultimately, the process can take many months and sometimes years to complete but sour beer fans will all agree, it is well worth the wait.

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Categories: Brewing, Cellar Series