Both beers have lots of different flavours to explore...
Since starting as a commercial brewery last year, one of things I've enjoyed most is finding new sour beer fans. Those who might normally enjoy cider, or wine, but find themselves converted to fruited sours having sampled one of our beers - my sister is one of these people! It's for this reason that earlier in the year, when we were contemplating how we might add more complexity and depth to our sour beers, the idea of making grape sours featured favourably in our thinking. We thought a sour beer based around a fruity pinot noir, or crisp sauvignon blanc might work well - and it might help us find a few more new beer drinkers too! Fast forward three months, and our first new beers of 2021 are Alto, a red grape sour, and Soprano, a white grape sour. Here a few words to let you know a little more about these beers...
Soprano and Alto were brewed following our standard sour beer production process - mashing with pilsner and wheat malt, boiling without hops, and then adding our bacteria culture and yeast to the fermenter for souring and fermenting.
For Soprano, we steeped the wort in a huge quantity of dried elderflowers at the end of the boil, fermented using Verdant yeast for extra fruit character, and conditioned on lots of white grapes. We also added a smaller quantity of gooseberries - for extra sharpness, and to further draw on some of the wine like characteristics we were aiming for.
For Alto, we used a more neutral yeast strain for less yeast character, and then paired the red grape addition with a smaller secondary addition of blackcurrants and blueberries. The intention here was to try and amplify that berry, jammy character, found in red wine - in addition to building multiple layers of fruit flavour.
Across both beers we blitzed down around 50kg of fruit... adding everything into the beer - skins 'n all! The inclusion of the grape skins is key - helping to create a pleasing tannic like character that builds a dryness on the palate - which is quenched of course by another sip!
We’re really pleased with the results! Both beers have lots of different flavours to explore.
Soprano is full of elderflower flavour, refreshing grape notes, a sharp but not overbearing sourness, and a very slight acetic note developed by holding our bacteria at temperature for a little longer than normal. To be honest, it’s slightly browner in appearance than we wanted... which is a result of the dried elderflowers we used. But as a natural product that takes on the flavours and colour of the natural ingredients we’ve used - it is what it is.
Alto is a vibrant red with lots of fruit character from the grapes and the different berries we used. It’s slightly drier and more acidic than its white grape partner - but again, not overly so - with enough residual sweetness to balance everything out.
Both beers are something a little different for us, both in conception and production, and we really hope you enjoy drinking them as much as we enjoyed making them. Salute!