Fermentation – PorchDrinking.com
Welcome to Beerology! Once a month, we will take a look into the origins of all things booze. In this edition of Beerology, we are going to dive into the world of sour beers. Despite the extreme increase in number of breweries producing sour beer, there has not been an increase in knowledge for consumers. So, we’re making an effort to thwart misinformation. Read on to learn the basics of what makes beer sour.
If you’re someone who thinks that Americans created sour, let’s do a real quick crash course in the history of Lambic. What’s Lambic? Only the most important beer style that has led to the sudden explosion in number of “sour” beers on shelves across the country. Lambic is a spontaneously fermented beer that is produced in a region of Belgium called Pajottenland. In a nutshell, spontaneous fermentation is the process of inoculating wort with wild yeast and bacteria present in the brewery’s environment and letting those microorganisms have sole responsibility over fermentation, no added brewer’s yeast or commercial cultures. This is the most traditional way of creating acidity in beer and is the predecessor to modern production of sour beer.
Fermentation is defined as “the chemical breakdown of a substance by bacteria, yeasts, or other microorganisms, typically involving effervescence and the giving off of heat.” Sure, that might sound a little bit unappealing, but without the process of fermentation, we wouldn’t have beer, wine, spirits, cheese, vinegar, pickles, chocolate, and so many other foods and drinks we love dearly. As a fan of nearly all fermented treasures – I’m still trying to cultivate a taste for Natto – I was very excited to attend the second annual Fermentation Festival held last weekend.
Since you’re reading these words, I expect you have at least a passing fondness for beer, and perhaps other fermented beverages such as cider, wine, and kombucha. Great, now what about fermented foods? Sure, everybody loves cheese, but how about sauerkraut, kimchi, or tempeh? The process of fermentation has been yielding some of the most delicious things we eat and drink for thousands of years, so it’s a good thing Colorado has an annual event celebrating them. Yes, the Fermentation Fest returns to Denver this weekend!
If its not clear from previous posts, I LOVE to homebrew. It’s an scientifically artistic process that creates things that I can share with friends and family and bring a community together. The past few weeks I have enjoyed being on vacation and realized how important timing is. My mind and body needed the relaxation and escape of vacation. It inspired me to write this piece Homebrewing: Timing is Everything.
This is part 2 of an ongoing series on homebrewing. For part one on equipment & pre-brewing prep, please go here.
Now that you have the right equipment, you need some ingredients for your first batch. If you are reading this article, you most likely know the four main ingredients in beer: Grains, Hops, Water, & Yeast. Quite simple, but within each of these categories there are a lot of options. While you might be intimidated by all of the selections, your first batch should be a simple one. I know you are probably excited to make the most amazing vanilla caramel mocha latte milk stout, complete with all sorts of fancy spices and ingredients, but that is not the way to start. You can’t be a five star chef without learning the ropes along the way, and the same can be said about being a brewer.