Each year, we strive to make a number of world-class sour ales with a variety of whole fruits. In June, we once again released Pawpaw to our Secret Barrel Society Members and through our public lottery. This unique fruit is indigenous to our home state of Indiana and creates one of our most complex, delicious beers. And our 2016 release was no different, except for the fact we have learned that some of our customers are experiencing gushing bottles.
We are currently in touch with customers who have these bottles and are working towards resolving the issues at hand. However, we also thought this would be a good opportunity to explain some of the challenges we face when making sour beers and how we are continually improving our process in our new home, the Wood Shop.
Packaging process and challenges
When we package our sour beers, they are bottle conditioned to a very high carbonation level to provide a spritzy mouthfeel. There can be situations where small bits of fruit remain in the bottle due to the fact that we do not finely filter our beer. These fruit particulates can create nucleation sites that assist the physical separation of CO2 gas from the liquid. We believe some portion of the bottles from this batch received more of these fruit solids than expected, resulting in gushing bottles.
We take great pride in the fact that many of our fruited sours go through a second fermentation and aging period on whole fruits which have a wide variety of forms and textures that can vary from season to season. It can be quite challenging to maximize the beer extraction from these barrels, while also not filtering so finely that we strip flavor and body. Something that we’re sure our loyal sour drinkers don’t want us to do.
We are continually refining our processes as we scale up production to eliminate this from being a problem in the future. We have already incorporated some new equipment in the Wood Shop since this batch of PawPaw was bottled, and we are actively working to optimize our process for each brand we produce going forward.
Sours Storage and Care
As far as solutions, we first want to emphasize the importance of storing and serving these beers cold. Our sours are best when stored standing up in a refrigerator and chilled 40–45 degrees F prior to opening. If you suspect that your remaining bottles may also be gushers, but would still like to enjoy them, we suggest placing your bottles in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes prior to opening. Once removed, open the bottles cautiously over the sink with a glass ready to receive the liquid. And, of course, please aim the cork away from anyone’s face.
If you have one of these bottles and have not yet contacted us, please do so at [email protected]. Quality and customer service is of the utmost importance to us and we want to be sure that every experience that you have with our brand is a positive one.