At Ology, we love beer that is intentionally sour. We make two very separate types of “sour” beer. One, our quick, and simple “kettle-soured” Berliner Weisse which we serve straight up and with fruit treatments. And secondly - our aged, mixed culture American Sour Ale. While both sour and both beers, these two products are actually vastly different. Batch 1 of Dynamic Fermentum bottles (DFB1) are getting released this weekend, so we wanted to lay out some key differences between these two styles.
Berliners and Gose’s are usually made through a process called “kettle souring.” This method can produce a wide variety of beers on a spectrum of a mildly more crisp ale to mouth-puckering fruity explosions in under two weeks. We love them, make them, experiment with them, sell them, and we definitely drink them. But, when it comes to complexity, depth, and ability to develop over decades (yes, years) like a fine wine… these beers aren’t set up for the aging and flavor development of a true mixed culture ale. What is an American Sour Ale then?
Dynamic Fermentum would be considered a true, barrel-aged sour ale. It starts out in a fermenter with “clean” brewer’s yeast. When most of the simple sugars have been metabolized, we transfer to barrels and add a variety of “wild” yeast and bacteria. These mixed cultures can eat more complex sugars and proteins making the beer “drier” (think wine). They are also responsible for the sour/funky flavors associated with this style. After a couple months, we add fruit. In the case of DFB1, 80 pounds of peaches and apricots. This obviously imparts fruit flavors and aromas, but also it gives the mixed cultures more food to create more acidity and funk. After a couple more months, we bottled it with a touch of sugar to help the cultures “condition” or carbonate the beer. All of this takes time. For DFB1 - 8 months. It is a living product. It will develop more complex and deep flavors with time. And we love it.
This beer at time of sale has a predominate sourness and heavy fruitiness that is complimented by a light funkiness. As I mentioned earlier, sour beer ages very well. Might you lose some of the strength of the fruit? Yes. Might it get more sour? Yes. Might it get more balanced? Yes. Could the funk start becoming more prominent? Yes. You are the cellarman now. We love where this beer is currently. But, everyone’s palate is different. If you desire, let time and the mixed cultures change this beer even further.
Again, we love beer that is sour. Berliners have been on our tapboard since day one and we will continue to experiment with how much flavor we can squeeze into these products from our newly named Juice Lab. Now we are proud to bring a product that we started before we were even open. This program is just in its infancy – you will see more barrels popping up in the taproom over the coming weeks and more bottle releases in the coming months. We hope you love both of these type of sour beer as much as we do.