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Our favorite question of the month came via Facebook from Ralph Kerr. He posted the following photo and asked…
Q: Who was smarter?
A: We’re pretty sure it was the dog.
Q: Since you’re expanding the business with a new factory in Chester County, does that mean Victory will eventually bring back brewery tours to at least one facility, if not both? I really enjoy your beers and I’d relish the chance to see how it’s done.
A: That’s what we’re hoping to do! We aren’t sure when tours will be available again or which location will be best to open to the public, but we we are hoping to cater to our fans who are thirsty for knowledge as well as for beer. Stay tuned for that announcement by following our expansion section of the website.
Q: Is your Sunrise Weissbier a true-to-style Berlin Weiss? For example, can it be flavored with a woodruff or raspberry syrup to cut the tartness?
A: Our Sunrise Weissbier is a true Bavarian-style Hefe-Weizen. It is not a sour beer in the style of the Berliner Weiss. It is best enjoyed straight-up, though we suppose a wedge of lemon would be considered legitimate in the U.S. We will be releasing our first Berliner Weiss-style beer (yet to be named) on draft as soon as it is ready. We anticipate the beer to be available toward the end of the summer. That beer will do well with the syrups you mentioned.
Q: If I see a sour beer on a beer menu, I go for it! Why don’t I see this type of beer brewed at Victory? Is it all about the yeast or the time to produce?
A: Up until now, we have not made a sour beer, but we have experimented with wild yeasts (brettanomyces). A true sour beer requires lactic acid for the tart taste. The most responsible breweries use lactic acid and acetic acid bacteria to produce the acidity naturally. It does take time; and also requires careful attention to which bacteria are chosen, in what proportion they are introduced, when they are introduced and how they are coaxed to grow in their own unique way.
In Belgium, there are several different methodologies and processes used to create sour beers. There is the Lambic method of spontaneous fermentation and the Flemish way of conditioning beer with various organisms. Within the Flemish method, some breweries use wood; others use stainless steel to achieve different characteristics in the beer.
To answer your question, I can tell you that Victory has begun the process of making a sour beer. But we will not release just any sour beer. We are doing small-scale experimentation so that when we do have a sour beer for you, it will be a beautifully balanced, refreshing Flemish-style sour beer. Unfortunately, we are years away from a final product, because once we figure out how to do it, a commercial size batch will be produced and could take more than three years to be ready to blend with younger sour beer.
Q: I am trying to figure out what grains to boil to make a smooth beer. Do you have any advice?
A: Actually, for “smoothness,” I would recommend against boiling any grains. You may be considering the boiling method known as decoction mashing, to produce smoothness. However, decoction is used more to create full body and rich maltiness. For smoothness, mash the grains using an infusion mash, where the temperature never exceeds 76° Celsius (170° F). This will reduce the tannins that are released into the mash, which should help smoothness. If you want to go further in addressing smoothness, take a careful look at the pH of your mash, hot wort and cold wort. If you consult an intermediate or advanced home brewing book, you will find there are optimal values for each of these stages of brewing and tips for how to hit those proper pHs.