I dropped acid last weekend. No, this column isn’t about drugs now and no it wasn’t the acid you probably are thinking of right now.
It was pH education at Firestone Walker Brewing Co. led by Jeffers Richardson. The L.A. Beer Bloggers group was in Paso Robles to drink up the knowledge about the flavor and potency of acid and the philosophy of how Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks uses it in their range of sour beers.
Richardson first led the group through a series of taste tests. Snifters of Lactic acid, Acetic acid and Citric acid were sipped to illustrate each flavor profile. The last two are more recognizable. Acetic is vinegar and savory and Citric is sour and lemon-y. Lactic acid, to me, is the fake sugar taste you might get from sour candy.
Then we experienced a tasting for potency. What did four grams per liter of lactic acid taste like vs. eight and then 12? It was eye opening to taste the not-so subtle changes as the acid increased. That demonstration was precursor to the final stage of the session.
We received snifters of Agrestic, SLOambic and Li’l Opal and tasked with guessing where each of those sour beers fell in the spectrum between four and 12.
What was stressed and what I certainly taste in Barrelworks beers is the fact that they are balanced (And they make a point of palatability). They make you pucker, they are tart, but they don’t give you the “suck on a lemon” face. Richardson calls it complex, not sour.
The Beer of the Week is not out yet but in keeping with the Firestone Walker theme and sour theme, the selection is Sour Opal, the latest in an expanding line of Opal beers. On Saturday, April 25, the latest liberation of beers occurs with Bretta Rose and Sour Opal. This is a Central Coast Gueuze that aged in Viognier barrels. Barrelworks describes it as an “Oak-derived flavors and aromas mingle with guava, passion fruit, pineapple and tart cherry notes. This beer rounds out with a crisp clean and quenching acidity as well as a mild grape fruitiness that is intensified by a higher carbonation level.”
If you can’t make it to Buellton that day for the “liberation” then your Homework is to head to Beachwood BBQ in Seal Beach the same day for their Firestone Walker Tap Take-Over. Not only will there be eight Firestone Walker beers on tap including seasonals, specialty and sours from Barrelworks, but it is also Seal Beach Car Show day. Maybe Firestone’s famed jeep Olivia, emblazoned with the Lion and Bear, will be there.
Find more of Sean Inman’s writing on his blog, Beer Search Party.