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Beer Updates

Too Sour, Or Not Too Sour?

By Matty O'Callaghan 20 Feb 2020

Whether you’ve already fallen in love with these tongue tingling brews, or you find yourself perplexed and still sitting on the fence…we want to assure you that sours are not here to complicate things. In fact, at Pirate Life, we’re embracing an opportunity to introduce people to a side of beer they may never have experienced before. So, who’s keen?!

Beer is as old as sin. Well, maybe not that old…but for a good chunk of history, if you were knocking back a frothy, it was in some way shape or form, sour. Before the advent of modern brew practices such as sterilisation and pasteurisation in the mid-nineteenth century, along with the harnessing of reliable, single-strain yeast sources, the landscape of beer was, shall we say, much, much funkier.

For centuries, brewers of the traditional European styles Berliner Weiss, Gose and Belgian Lambics have utilised a range of unique and often unpredictable microbial critters in the pursuit of the perfect pot. By critters, in this case, we’re referring to common bacteria such as Lactobacillus and or Pediococcus, the micro-organisms responsible for converting sugars into lactic acid, as well as a host of wild yeast strains, including Brettanomyces (which lives on the skins of fruit). These bugs were historically introduced to the brewed wort either spontaneously through exposure to the atmosphere or through contact with wooden casks as the beer aged. Or both.

While volatile yeast strains like ‘Brett’ can lend floral and earthy notes, along with gentle wafts of band-aid and horse blanket – yes, you read that correctly, Lactobacillus’ sensory offerings are (at least for the majority of punters) slightly more favourable, supplying the beer with a bright, citrus like tang  – which is relevant for us.

As craft breweries continue to search high and low for new ways to express themselves, they often find the answer is not new at all and thanks to heightened modern day brewing standards, these once rouge and unpredictable microbes are being corralled in to submission, making it far easier for brewers to get funky without getting too ‘funkay’. Make sense?

Now, what on earth does all of this mean for Pirate Life? 2019 marked the release of our now core-ranged ‘Acai and Passion Fruit Sour’. This lip smacking, 3.5% summer crusher calls on only ONE of the afore mentioned influencers, Lactobacillus, and is what is commonly referred to in the industry as a ‘kettle sour’.

The beer itself is brewed using 50% Wheat Malt and 50% Pale Malt. Once extracted from the grain bed, the wort is boiled briefly and sent to a vessel to cool, where Lactobacillus is pitched and allowed to work overnight. During this time, a pleasant tartness is achieved as the beer’s acidity increases. The inoculated wort is then sent back to the kettle where it is boiled, and the brew process continues as normal. Simple as that. In tank, the developing beer receives a generous dose of passion fruit pulp and acai berry post fermentation, garnering more twang for the party and a gorgeous rose blush colour to boot.

The response to this beer has been overwhelming. It spawned the development of a further ten sour recipes, each as tantalising as the last. We’ll do more in 2020. A lot more, but for now, honourable mentions include Mojito Sour, Lemon Grass and Ginger Sour, Chilli and Tamarind Gose, Lime Gose, Cherry Sour and Mango Lassi. All fresh, all vibrant and all puckered up in a controlled environment with our new bestie, Lactobacillus.

Our kettle sours are infinitely approachable. Think of them as a bridge between cider and beer. They’re light, refreshingly tart and are typically under 5% ABV. And while there are a multitude of jaw wrenching, face warping sours in the market today, you can be assured that these are not that.

If this has ignited your curiosity, then head on down to our Port Adelaide Brewery to experience these amazing beers first hand. Keep in mind, between 5 – 6 pm daily, you can score any one of them for just $5 a pint! We call it the Hour of Sour. Of course. 

See you at the bar,

PLB Crew.