This month, Beerland has released a new Limited-edition beer called ‘Retro Blossom’, it’s a Cherry Berliner Weiss and I thought I’d take a moment to tell you the story behind it all.
First of all, I was pretty keen on brewing a ‘Florida Weiss’, a riff on the traditional German style of Berliner Weiss. Berliner Weiss is a sour wheat ale which is light in alcohol and very effervescent, it is commonly enjoyed ‘Mit Schuss’ [German for ‘with shot’] meaning a flavoured syrup like raspberry or woodruff was added to the beer at the bar. This would balance out the acidity and add some sweetness and fruity / herbal flavour.
Several breweries in Florida’s modern interpretation, was putting actual fruit into the fermenter, adding colour and flavour, but still allowing the sugars from the fruit to fully ferment out, keeping the beer nice and dry. They also ratcheted up the ABV to a full strength of 4-5% and adopted more modern methods of souring.
Around the time I was looking at doing some small batch trials, it was revealed to me that one of our staff at Beerland Brewing has a family Orchard in NSW that grows organic sweet cherries, ‘Cantrill Organics’, this cemented the concept and ‘Retro Blossom’ was born.
Cantrill Cherries had the fruit de-seeded and pulped, ready for use in the brewery, making our lives much easier, they were added to the fermenter after primary fermentation was complete, kicking off a secondary ferment and then given another 2 weeks on the fruit to allow for some depth of flavour and colour.
Now, let’s get nerdy about lactic fermentation…
Just like there’s several ways to skin a cat, there’s several ways to make sour beer. Modern breweries are concerned with wild yeast and bacteria, as brewers, we maintain cleanliness and sanitation of our brewery equipment to keep these brewery nasties at bay. This wasn’t always the case though, in fact, some breweries relied on them for the flavour profile of their beers. British breweries had Brettanomyces in their bottled stock ales, German breweries had Lactobacillus in their packaged Berliner Weiss and Gose and of course, the Lambics and Flanders beers of Belgium, inoculated with a plethora of local microflora to kick off fermentation. In fact, a lot of breweries still practice these forms of traditional souring but we’ll save that discussion for another time though and look at the more modern method.
These days, to avoid accidental infection of beers we don’t intend to be sour, we need to take special measures. The best way of doing this is souring the wort before it gets to the fermenter and then boiling it after the fact to kill off whatever bugs you’ve added. One of the most common techniques (and the way we did ours) is ‘Kettle-souring’. This involves pre-boiling your wort to kill off anything that may be there, pitching a specific strain of Lactobacillus, holding it at the optimum temperature for 24-48 hours until desired level of lactic acid is produced. It is then boiled again to kill off the Lactobacillus and fermented as normal with a clean yeast.
‘Retro Blossom’ is light and refreshing at 3.8% with flavours reminiscent of cherry, strawberry, melon and citrus. If you’d like to know more about this beer, you’ll have to head out to one of our venues for a taste 😉.
By Tom Fleay – Brewer at Whitfords Brewing Co by Beerland