A blend of mixed culture and saison beer that was aged in French oak for 12 months, then macerated on Pluots for 5 months at a fruiting rate of 580g/L.

Beer Style: Barrel Aged Mixed Culture Ale with Pluots

ABV: 4.5%

pH: 3.39 pH

Final Gravity: 0.82° Plato

Packaged On: 27/7/21

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 Pluots, supplied by our friends at Rayners Orchard in the Yarra Valley.

Barrel selections for this fruit blend were all from a brew day back in January 2020 with an old friend of mine, Joel Broad. Joel lives in London, and is head brewer at 40 FT brewing. While we don’t get to brew together so often, we have brewed Saison and mixed culture beers a few times together now. This brew was primarily fermented in our open top fermenter, before being transferred to ex-chardonnay French oak barriques for aging. On adding beer to the fruit, we included some Petite Saison to add some fresh hop character and temper acidity.

We sized our fruiting tanks to fit 400kg of fruit and three barrels of beer, with the idea that we’d fruit the beer at a very high rate, then back blend with additional beer to achieve the fruit intensity we’re looking for. However, we just couldn’t get past the character of this beer, and decided to package this fruited ale as is. Introducing: Plutocracy.

Detailed Tasting Notes:

Appearance: Persistent foam, pink pastel with a rose-like hue

Aroma: Apricot, melon candy, honeydew, rose water, underlying vanilla with a touch of strawberry shortcake

Palate: Watermelon jolly ranchers, lemon sherbert, soft acidity, touch of tannin

Mouthfeel: Light and creamy, fluffy, soft 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!

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