Ensorcelled, our dark sour aged in oak barrels, was just awarded the silver medal at the 2016 World Beer Cup in the American-style Sour Ale category!!! We're honored and humbled to receive this award from the most respectable international beer competition. Our intention is to brew and blend the best sour beer possible to provide to sour beer drinkers, however recognition like this from our peers in the industry is mighty darn cool.
Fun fact...this is the 3rd award Ensorcelled has won! It was also awarded a gold medal at the 2014 World Beer Cup and a silver medal at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival!
There are many different variables throughout the fermentation process that affect how sour beer is produced. In order to better understand our beers and sour beer production in general, we pull small samples from each batch of beer every 10-14 days and specifically track four things: sensory, attenuation, temperature, and pH.
In order to test each batch, we pull a very small sample of beer from the barrel. However, it is incredibly important that we do not allow extra oxygen in the barrel, so we never remove the bungs from the barrel during this process. Instead, we are able to get samples from our barrels by “pulling nails” (often referred to as the “Vinnie Nail”, popularized by Vinnie at Russian River). It’s as simple as it sounds… we grab a pair of pliers and a glass, pull the nail, catch the sour beer as it pours out of the barrel, and then put the nail back in the hole! While sampling is important for testing the beer, it is important not to remove too much beer from the barrel at one time as that could also cause too much oxygen to enter the barrel.
After samples are pulled, our production team first tests the beer on sensory. With over 900 barrels filled, we are sampling sour beer every day. Sight, smell, taste, and mouthfeel of each sample are recorded to assist us in tracking the progress of our different yeast and bacteria experimentations as well as help create exciting new blends. We’ll take notes on how each batch looks, smells, and tastes every 10-14 days so that we can track how it changes over time and know when it has completed fermentation.
Are there still fermentable sugars in the sour beers? Are the yeast and bacteria still fermenting the beer? To answer these questions our production team uses an Anton Paar to measure attenuation and monitor the progression of the fermentation process. The data collected from these readings, show us how much sugar has been converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide over time. If we see weeks of stable readings, we know that yeast and bacteria have fully attenuated the beer and that this batch of beer is either ready to be packaged or blended. Ensuring that our beers have fully attenuated and are fermented dry is very important to make sure that our beers do not over-carbonate in the bottle.
Temperature plays a very important part in yeast and bacteria activity. Yeast and bacteria typically convert more sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide in hotter temperatures, while fermentation can slow down in colder temperatures. Since the amount of heat present affects how yeast and bacteria act, it also affects how sour beer tastes and smells. Different fermentation temperatures will produce different esters and phenols, which give each batch of beer varying characteristics. The ideal temperature range is somewhere between 50-70F, which is actually one of the main reasons why we decided to start here in Berkeley. Berkeley’s climate hovers in the ideal fermentation temperature range. The size and location of our warehouse provide an excellent space to house our 100 BBL fermentors and over 900 barrels filled with fermenting beer.
The final assessment that we record every 10-14 days is pH level. pH is the measure of how acidic or alkaline a solution is. Bacteria produce acids (most commonly lactic and/or acetic acid), which acidifies our beers and puts the “sour” in them. We track the progress of acid producing bacteria by taking a pH reading. Bacteria are still active if pH continues to decrease, but after consecutive weeks of stable readings we are able to proceed in the blending process.
How do we test pH? First, we calibrate a probe to 7.0 pH by dipping it into a neutral storage solution. We then rinse the probe with water and dip it into the second acidic storage solution to calibrate the probe to 4.0 pH. We rinse the probe one more time with water and then dip it into our beer sample to take a final pH reading.
pH will give us a good idea of how acidic a beer is, however, it doesn’t directly translate to how people perceive acidity on their pallet.
Recording the data from these four assessments allows us to further our understanding of how yeast and bacteria work to create sour beer. We learn more and more as we track each batch of beer in this decades long experiment.
San Francisco Beer Week is only a few weeks away, do you know what you are doing? We are gearing up for an epic week from January 22nd through January 31st and will be hosting a few events. See what is going on below.
Mark your calendars! We are starting the beginning of Beer Week by getting the gang back together… again! The Bruery, Societe Brewing Company, and The Rare Barrel will all be under the same roof for our second annual reunion event. Each brewery will be serving 5 beers for you to try at the Tasting Room starting at 2PM.
If you didn’t know, Patrick from The Bruery, Doug from Societe, and Jay from The Rare Barrel all worked together at The Bruery. Patrick, Doug, and Jay will all be in house for the first few hours to share each other’s beer, reminisce about the past, chat about the present, and look forward to the future.
Real Smoked BBQ is bringing a massive smoker to our parking lot again and will dishing up some amazing BBQ for this event and Sunday, January 24th. Come hungry and thirsty!
That’s right, we are bringing back a few of our past releases for you to try in our Tasting Room for one night only! We will have 13 sours on tap and 3 bottles to try in house. Please see a list of beers we plan on serving below.Draft Becoming | golden sour aged in oak barrels with boysenberries Dubious Nights | dark sour beer aged in tequila barrels Forces Unseen 14 (Batch 2) | blend of 3 golden sour beer aged in oak barrels Forces Unseen 15 (Batch 4) | blend of 4 golden sour beer aged in oak barrels Forces Unseen 16 (Batch 5) | blend of 5 golden sour beer aged in oak barrels Impossible Soul | golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with tart cherries and sweet cherries Map of the Sun | golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with apricots No Salt | golden sour beer aged in tequila barrels Proportional Response | amber sour beer aged in oak barrels Soliloquy | golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with rose hips and orange peel Sourtooth Tiger | golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with ginger Supermassive | dark sour beer aged in oak barrels with blackberries and black currants 2nd Anniversary Sour | red sour beer aged in whiskey barrels Bottles (for on site consumption) Apropos of Nothing | golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with elderberries and lavender Forces Unseen 14 (Batch 1) | blend of 3 golden sour beer aged in oak barrels Home Sour Home | golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with peaches, cinnamon, and vanilla bean Bottles (for sale) Map of the Sun | golden sour beer aged in oak barrels with apricots No Salt | golden sour beer aged in tequila barrels
Lauren Salazar will be in house on Saturday, January 30th from 2PM to 5PM along with some of our friends from New Belgium Brewing. Five special sours from the New Belgium cellars will be served along with suggested cheese and dessert pairings. Lauren and Jay will also be holding 3 Q&A sessions at 2:30PM, 3:30PM, and 4:30PM for up to 20 people each session. Sign-ups are on a first come first serve basis so make sure to stop by the Tasting Room early to get your chance to chat with Lauren.
Have an awesome Beer Week and see y’all in the Tasting Room!