Beer Style: Barrel Aged Mixed Culture Ale with Blueberries
pH: 3.17 pH
Final Gravity: 0.04° Plato
Packaged On: 04/05/21
Our first brews to start our mixed culture program went into oak late 2019. We waited patiently for these barrels to mature, to show signs that this golden liquid was ready to enter into its next phase of life. This day arrived 12 months later, as we selected some barrels that we thought would work well with NSW Blueberries, supplied by our mate Greg at The Berry Man.
Barrel selections for this fruit blend were A19 (tropical, hop forward), A28 (berry aromatics, citric acidity, dry finish) and A29 (barnyard, leather, fruity, sherbet, pithy bitterness).
Detailed Tasting Notes:
Appearance: Bright, deep red, pastel pink head, persistent foam
Aroma: Pinot noir, forest floor, mulled wine, grape skin/stem, bicycle tyre, damp straw
Palate: Complex, lemon rind, spice, earthiness, acidity fades into a balanced finish
Mouthfeel: Tannic body weight, dry finish
Deeds Mixed Culture Program Overview:
It’s nearly been three years since we began producing beer at our home in Glen Iris, and while we may have become best known for our IPAs, barrel ageing has always been in the picture. Mixed culture fermentation, whether it be with fruit or without, is a part of that picture that we all desire to make bigger. We’ve drawn inspiration from around the globe, from Lambic and Gueuze producers in and around Brussels, to more modern interpretations by American sour beer brewers.
The program kicked off in the last quarter of 2019 when we welcomed our first delivery of wine barrels. We began by building up our mixed culture, preparing it to embark on the grand task that lay ahead. Ned had been brewing with this culture at home for a couple of years preceding it’s new adventure at Deeds, and he was filled with a mix of excitement and trepidation to take it from 50 to 1500 litre batches!
Two base recipes were initially used to drive different fermentation profiles of our mixed culture. The first was designed to create similar characteristics to a traditional turbid mash used in Lambic brewing, utilising the same technique of boiling part of the mash, creating a dextrinous wort full of complex sugars for a long slow fermentation, as well as a hot sparge to layer some tannin into the beer. The second recipe also utilises a step mash, but is aimed at creating a highly fermentable wort, favouring a Saccharomyces yeast-driven fermentation, with less acidity in the final product.
We conduct our primary fermentations in an open top fermenter called “The Albatross”, which we converted out of an old stainless steel grist case. From there, we transfer the beer into French oak for extended ageing.
And then we wait. We continue to watch as barrels develop their individual characters, each slightly different from the next. When the beer is ready, we select them for either blending or macerating on fruit that we felt would match the character of the base beer. At this point, the production team will sit down to a final sensory session, selecting barrels and composing blends for every beer.
In August 2020 we received a shipment of new tanks for our first expansion of the cellar. Along with three 100hL fermenters and two yeast propagation tanks, we got 6 stackable fruiting tanks for the mixed culture program. These tanks are primarily used for fruiting mixed culture beer, but also allow us to undertake other projects simultaneously. Let’s just say these tanks came just in time.
Once the ageing on fruit and blending is complete, the various beers are ready to be packaged. We add a small amount of sugar and fresh culture to allow for refermentation in the bottle. Then we package the beer with our 6 head gravity filler, giving us the flexibility to fill a wide variety of bottle sizes - 375mL, 750mL, and even a few 1.5L Magnums. The bottles are then stored away and allowed to carbonate and settle. Scheduled sensory sessions allow the brewers to track the beer's progress and ultimately determine when they are ready for sale. At which point they are shipped off to specialty bottle shops all over Australia for your consumption!