Relentless & Aftershock Bring The Funk

Hello fellow heroes!

Once again it has been far too long, but I have exciting details about our first beer!

I mentioned in my last post that we had been experimenting with a 100% Brett kettle-soured Gose. Well now, I’m happy to report we made 10 bbls (310 gallons) of that bad boy!

The entire funk fiasco originated from a conversation I was having with my buddy Joe Flores, recent GABF Bronze winner and Head Brewer of Aftershock Brewing. I asked if he was interested in brewing something together or wanted to collaboratively funkify a beer he had done before, and he suggested his Gose.

Until that day, I hadn’t really considered taking a stab at putting my own spin on the style. Our water is already pretty salty and I’m a little burned out on coriander. But the gears started turning and over the course of a few emails, We Can’t Stop Here! 100% Brett Gose was born. Here’s a clip from Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas for those of you that aren’t the voracious fans of that movie that Joe & I are.

We fired up our Gose on a grain bill of 50% Rahr Pils, 40% Rahr Red Wheat, & 10% Gambrinus Light Munich. Starting gravity was 1.048 and using Omega Lacto Blend we soured to 3.21 pH overnight. We boiled the next day and hopped with 7 IBUs of Lemondrop at 60 minutes. Small additions of Hawaiian Alaea red sea salt and coriander were included, but we weren’t looking for those to be focal points of the beer.

We ended up deciding to ferment at 72 degrees in fairly neutral red wine barrels on 5 different Bretts and Brett blends:

Barrel 1: White Labs Brett Brux Vrai – I’ve never worked with the BSI Drei strain and was excited to try out the new White Labs version; especially after finding out that Brett Brux Trois was not actually Brett. The beer is still in the barrel, but the latest tasting notes are some really nice fruity notes including stone fruit and faint strawberry. It’s certainly hard to completely differentiate between possible wine and Brett contributions.

Barrel 2: Giga Yeast Sweet Flemish – We found this strain to be pretty ready to rock and the Giga guys were great to work with. Interestingly, it had some pretty big fresh cut green apple flavors to it for a while. As it nears 3 months in the barrel, it seems to be morphing towards more grape skin and light funk flavors. That could certainly be the barrel contributing more. We may play around with some wine must in this one.

Barrel 3: Yeast Bay Lochristi Blend – This gorgeous blend was the highlight of our pilot batch, and it shined again for the real thing. It gives off such a fun mix of light fruit, funk, and its own acidity that really can give a kettle sour unbelievable complexity. We pulled this barrel last week and served some at Backyard Bottleshop in Murrieta, CA for their anniversary events this week. We had a great time partying with them and we’ve been really grateful to hear all the kind words (and see the good ratings) for our first release.

Barrel 4: Yeast Bay Brussels Blend – I expected this to be a pretty funky, beer geek only affair and it’s certainly on the right track. The nose is really complex and is starting to get very geuze-like. There’s some mousy funk lingering, but it’s good enough that we debated releasing this one first instead. I’m really excited to see the finished product.

Barrel 5: Yeast Bay Amalgamation Blend – This is the only barrel we pitched with Brett that we had already grown up from subsequent brews. I’ve found this blend to be pretty reliably loaded with funky peach and mandarin orange and some background white winey notes. Early on it seemed like we underpitched it a little, as sulfur and rotten egg were overpowering the notes I’ve come to know and love. They’re just finally fading out, leaving a pretty interestingly funk-forward beer. I can’t guarantee a “pull date” on this one, but it will be fun whenever it comes out. Possibly with some citrus fruit.

This wouldn’t be a typical post for me if I weren’t also sharing my excitement with what else we have coming down the pipeline!

First is an Imperial Oatmeal Amber wort fermenting solely on the Yeast Bay Lochristi Blend. We emptied Barrel 3 for local Gose consumption and went ahead and loaded up another weird project. This too was an Aftershock & Relentless production.

We also have an incredibly potent Tequila barrel filled with 100% Brett Imperial Spelt Gose. I decided to blend White Labs Vrai & Yeast Bay Lochristi Blend, based on the flavors we were getting from the Gose. Unless we blend this bad boy down, you’ll be too focused on the margarita in your glass to know it’s Brett at all. I do expect it to be popular for us and clock in around 10.5%. We also will field any and all billion dollar offers to take it global! In that vein, I found this Modern Times post funny.

Believe it or not, we brewed another beer with Aftershock. This time we did an Imperial Saison and sparged over flaked oats. (Big thanks to Flat Tail for sharing that technique.) Being super hip brewers and all we’re also trying to get the trend of #Mashies started:

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We split that brew into 2 barrels. The first, a fairly mellow and lightly leaky Tequila barrel. We co-pitched Yeast Bay Saison Blend 2 and East Coast Brett Custersianus. On day 3 we added 5.5 lbs of blue agave nectar as well. We’re expecting weird and fruity things.

The second barrel was supposed to be another Tequila, but we quickly found out it was not fit for service and it’s being tended to accordingly:

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Instead we filled a neutral red wine barrel and pitched 21 strains of Brett, including East Coast Dirty Dozen, White Labs Brett L & Vrai, Yeast Bay Lochristi & Brussels, etc. This is all the Brett letting us know that it’s here for the party:

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At this point that barrel is technically some sort of strange Imperial 100% Brett Wild Ale that may or may not get moved into a Tequila or Corn Whiskey barrel. Not to mention it also got 5.5 lbs of agave nectar. Stay tuned, as the direction of beers and the whims of your beloved cellarman are unpredictable.

Also stay tuned for the big Relentless Grand Opening and being able to try all 5 versions of the Gose at once! (Update: The Grand Opening is January 30th!) We’ll have a bunch of other fun goodies including big citrusy IPAs and unique takes on Saison and Oatmeal Stout. Plus, you’ll be able to party with this animal all night:

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Finally, big thanks to the Milk The Funk group on Facebook. I’m continually learning new things and absorbing useful information from the fine funky folks there. I highly recommend it if you find anything that you just read interesting.

Time to cook some steaks and crack something sour. Stay thirsty my friends!

 

 

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Refuge Gone Wild 2: The Long Overdue Update

Hello again heroes & friends!

Since we’re starting a new year, I thought it might be nice to share more developments regarding all the fun and funky endeavors we have happening at Refuge. I still can’t believe my last update was 6 months ago. Time keeps flying. Anyway, here’s our current funk inventory in all its humble quarantined glory:

funk program

First in funk news, it appears a good number of Refuge’s local fans got to enjoy our Batch 2 anniversary beer as well as Batch 2 with strawberries & Yeast Bay Lochristi Brettanomyces blend recently.

The base beer for our 2nd anniversary was our Refugee Tripel with Viognier grape must, aged in red wine barrels. The so-called Batch 2 Berry version (which has the red wax instead of black) still resides in a red wine barrel, due to the solera technique I’ve been experimenting with, and it gets funkier by the day.

batch2brett

The first limited release of bottles sold out the night of the anniversary party, but we still have a keg of the beer on tap at the brewery. As I mentioned, we’ve been trying out a sour beer technique called solera, where you pull only some beer from the barrel and top it back up with fresh beer. In this case, all 3 times that I’ve pulled either a quarter or half of the barrel, I’ve also added more and more fresh pureed strawberries.

It has been fun to watch the flavors as they’ve changed, with the current version on draft having been pulled 2 months ago, the now sold-out bottled version having been pulled 3 weeks ago, and the next keg on deck to go on tap being a part of the 3rd pull a couple days ago. The latest version seems to be getting more and more barrel character and what was once big strawberry shortcake in the nose appears to be morphing towards spicy vanilla tannins & tangy lemon zest notes. In a perfect world, I’d be giving this beer a little more time between pulls, but you guys keep drinking it all!

The most recent pull from the barrel allowed us to top it back up with the base beer, some basic Tripel, & a funky blend of 3 experimental 5 gallon trials that I’ve dubbed ‘Funkapotamus’. That mix contains both the Lochristi Brett blend and White Labs Brett Clausenii, not to mention potential wild yeasts from the added fruits in the trial batches. I’m really excited to pull a keg or two off of the barrel in a couple months (hopefully) and see where things are headed. If it’s anything like the beers in Funkapotamus, it’ll be fruitier and more acidic.

If you’ve been into the brewery lately, you know we’ve started serving more and more funky beers on our barrel-aged reserve taps as well.

ReservesBoard

It’s now not unusual for us to have 3 to 5 Brett influenced beers on tap at any time, not to mention any small experimental 5 gallon batches I might sneak on. It certainly doesn’t hurt that I can funk & fruit beers fairly quickly in rather neutral barrels, versus the aging and barrel needs of our bourbon barrel program.

We currently have 5 Brettanomyces beers on tap. Besides the Batch 2 Berry, we have Bretter Off Red, a Merlot barrel version of our Rampart Red with Brett B Trois, the Lochristi blend, & Brett C. The result after 9 months of barrel aging is a very wine-like creation with big floral and funky Brett notes in the nose and plenty of barrel character right behind it.

We also have Life of Lemons and The Razz Fairy. The base beer is the same for both and I’m using a similar single barrel solera technique in this one as I am in the anniversary beer. The beer is white wine barrel aged Citra Saison with Yeast Bay Beersel Brett blend, Meyer lemon zest, and more recently it has also included raspberries. The raspberries were added after the initial 2 keg pull of Life of Lemons, and more were added after the recent pull of a keg of The Razz Fairy. Here’s The Razz Fairy barrel on the left, still going strong and hungry for more raspberries:

citra+oracle

The other offering currently on tap, that I strongly suspect has a Brett Brux variation in it, is Old Soul. We did not intentionally funkify this particular barrel of Refugee Tripel. We just let it age for 14 months in a pinot noir barrel with plums, pluots, & blueberries added over the last couple months (once Brett character became apparent). Old Soul has been a hit with most of the staff thanks to its smorgasbord of intensely interesting flavors and I’m excited to work with more blueberries (and hopefully pinot barrels) in the future.

That covers what’s on tap, but if you know me you know I’m far more excited about what we have in the works!

As I mentioned above, we still have barrels going of the Batch 2 Berry and the Life of Lemons (that has morphed into The Razz Fairy with the addition of raspberries).

We also have:

– 2 wine barrels of Paint The Town Brown inoculated with White Labs Lacto D & Yeast Bay Amalgamation Brett blend. They’ve been rocking out for about 4 months now and it’s really interesting to taste how different the two are right now.

– 2 wine barrels of Session Citra Saison. One has Yeast Bay Brussels Brett blend, strawberries and Cara Cara oranges. It was delightfully tangy and funky before the fruit went in. The other has Yeast Bay Lochristi Brett blend, White Labs Brett Clausenii, raspberries, and blackberries. Both have healthy pellicles going and I suspect I’ll be pulling a keg or two of one of them soon. One of the aforementioned pellicles:

pellicle fun

– 2 wine barrels of Citra Saison. One has White Labs Brett Brux, passion fruit, and Temecula Ugly tangerines. The other is the same minus the passion fruit. So far Temecula Uglies have shown a fair bit of promise as far as interesting local fruit to add.

– 1 wine barrel of Oracle, an abbey ale with Juniper berries. I recently added plums and Wyeast Brett Lambicus to this (hoping to incorporate some of that sour cherry pie flavor they describe).

– 1 Heaven Hill Corn Whiskey barrel of our IPA of the Day (hopped with Summer, Columbus, & Palisade) with White Labs Brett Clausenii, Temecula Uglies, apricots, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, & plums. This barrel has been quite interesting to sample over the last 4+ months. The IPA already had big white grape and peachy flavors and the whiskey barrel character keeps getting heavier. The last time I tasted it, it was hard to tell there was much fruit or Brett in the mix.

As a result, it has become the recent fruit dumping ground for any pureed fruit that I can’t fit in its intended barrel(s). Usually I’ll top up my barrels every couple of months to make up for evaporation, but in this case we just keep feeding the head space more strange fruit. I have no idea where this particular ride is headed, but whenever we decide to pull Fruit Salad IPA out it should be fun.

In general, I’m getting to play around quite a bit now with single barrels in hopes of finding combinations that can be ramped up, somewhat repeated and bottled. Fruit Salad Brett Corn Whiskey IPA aside of course.

Also, I thought I’d share a couple of Brett pellicle pictures. This one’s just getting going:

peliicle beginning

And this is Yeast Bay Lochristi after 5 months:

Lochristi Pellicle

I also want to take this opportunity to wish a number of my co-workers that have moved on continued success. A toast to you Brett Harwood, as you continue your career at a little known brewery called Ballast Point:

toast to brett

To Jared & Katie, it was awesome rocking out with you guys and I hope our paths cross again soon. Minnesota is cold btw:

jared yeast party

san diego event

And a way overdue shout out to The Manimal, my first Assistant Cellarman man crush, David Leal. In the words of Tupac, Temecula Ain’t Hard To Find:

daveEvent

 

Finally, I want to say a GIGANTIC thanks to Jay Goodwin, of The Rare Barrel, and The Brewing Network. Jay has started a new show with the BN, called the Sour Hour, and the interviews with other sour producers (not to mention Jay’s info) have been a great resource for a newly funked out cellarman like myself. Keep up the good work Jay!

This hero is out!