A few months ago Renata from Temple Brewing mentioned how much she loved sour beers and how much they wanted to brew one, but given the risks of introducing certain yeast strains into a brewhouse they hadn’t found a way to do it.
Fast forward to last week and there I was, standing in Temple Brewery and Brasserie drinking their latest release, Scarlet Sour. As the name indicates, it is in fact a sour beer.
I mentioned our earlier conversation to Ron, head brewer at Temple and Renata’s husband, and he talked me through the process behind the beer. It began with a Berliner Weisse-inspired long mash, where the grain sit at the right temperature for 24 hours to encourage lactobacillus (a souring yeast strain) growth. It is then boiled and cooled like a normal beer, leaving a sour but more stable beer with the lactobacillus boiled off.
To get the colour, hibiscus flowers are used, and then cranberries for the tart flavour.
“Hibiscus were used in the hopback,” Ron said.
“We put about 20 kilos in two loads in the hopback so we run the hot wort through it. That gives the beer the bulk of the colour.
“After it’s fermented we take the cranberries (frozen) and we’ve got a centrifugal juicer… we defrost them and put them through the juicer which takes all the juice out, but leaves skins which have quite a lot of tanginess and a lot of tartness,” he explains.
“We then add water to that and macerate with a big mega-stick blender and create this sort of chopped up mush. We add that to the fermenter again and that creates a sort of secondary fermentation.”
The final result is a deep scarlet coloured beer, which is very dry, tart, but also exceptionally refreshing. Almost like a cranberry soft-drink but cleaner and less sugary.
A very accessible beer, especially for those unfamiliar with the style or who think they dislike beer (apparently they are out there still).
While fans of sour beers may be left wanting more from this, everyone I talked to – and myself included – had nothing but praise. A straight-forward refreshing beer that I will be heading straight for come the Australian Summer. And this was exactly what they were trying to achieve.
“We decided to brew a sour that was in the Berliner Weisse Style for several reasons,” Ron said.
“One, because we wanted to something that was at the lower end of the alcohol spectrum and also something that wasn’t overly confronting so people could perhaps use it as a gateway beer to the world of sour beers and the world of craft beers.
“The beer was really intended to be a light easy to drink refreshing tart beer that didn’t really suck the cheeks in.”
However, being fans of the more extreme sour beers themselves, Ron does want to ramp things up soon.
“We will do an uber version of this that will see oak and maybe have some brettanomyces (another popular souring yeast).”
As the summer months rapidly unfold, we should see a lot of this beer on the taps around Melbourne and Australia. Even with the extended mash, and extra ingredients (roughly 100kg of Cranberry and 20kg of hibiscus per batch) they are really keen to get this drink into the hands of the public.
“It is more work but it’s really satisfying because I know you can brew a beer like this as a one off and I know that you can brew a beer like this on a homebrew scale but I wanted to see if we can do this as a commercially viable exercise and I believe we can. So we’ve committed to this pretty hard.”
“I hope that the public get behind it and I hope that the new wave of craft beer drinkers can get switched on to it and I’m looking forward to hearing a lot of those ‘I don’t normally like beer but I like this’ comments.”
Scarlet Sour kegs will be shipped from this week, and bottles – in four packs – will follow soon after. While there is no timeframe for the sourer version, Ron has another special brew planned for December 12th – a 12% barleywine to be called Temple 12 to commemorate the 12 month anniversary of the first brew in their current home.
For people wanting to explore the Berliner Weisse style further, Feral Brewing from WA have won much praise from the public for their Watermelon Warhead, and Renegade Brews, a new importer, has just bought kegs of genuine German Berliner Weisse into the country.
The first of which will be on at Slowbeer Melbourne this week; being served traditionally – with flavoured syrups added after pouring.
To fans of sours and more alternative styles, it is shaping up to be a refreshing summer.