The wonderful world of wood
Every beer produced from OverWorks will have had some degree of contact with wood. Whether matured in our Foeders or blended with our house mixed culture which is cultivated in red wine barrels, there will always be an influence from oak.
The importance of microbes
Prior to stainless steel being introduced in breweries all fermentation and maturation was done in wooden vessels. Stainless steel is easy to clean, limiting unintentional infections and being air tight is a great environment for brewers making pale ales, lagers and most other modern craft beers. However, we are making mixed fermentation beer where the influence of microbes is just as important.
Safe place to play
Wooden vessels are the perfect breeding ground for wild yeast and bacteria, which is why we hold our house mixed culture, Cher Ami, in red wine barrels. The grains in the wood make a safe harbour for the yeast and bacteria to grow heathy before they are required to get to work funkifying and souring some beers. The microscopic pores in the wood encourage a long-term source of 02 for Brettanomyces to respire.
Foeders v Barrels
For those unfamiliar with the name, a foeder is just a big ole wooden barrel. It’s as simple as that. However, the effect on the beer is significant. The larger vessel makes for less wood contact and slower development. Thicker staves in foeders means the ingress of oxygen is much slower and reduced so there is less activity from aerobic bacteria such as acetobacter which can sour a potentially incredible beer past the point of no return, but just enough o2 for a long, slow brettanomyces fermentation.
The fermentation process drastically changes the character of our beer when it is left in wood. Micro-oxidation makes for a slow evolution of flavour which harmonises perfectly with the slow maturation of Brettanomyces. Over time, and when lactic acid bacteria is added, Brettanomyces will start to become more expressive and produce funky, farmhouse aromas. Many metabolic pathways overlap and cross, symbiotically building upon one another in a delicate but tested pattern. This interplay of organisms allows mixed culture beer to thrive for months or even years.
The forgotten ingredient
One of the most overlooked factors in brewing is time, an important ingredient in the making of OverWorks beers. Various times spent in contact with wood or different organisms result in vastly different flavours. Harnessing the additional ingredient of time to ensure the yeast is expressing the right character to complement each beer is a subtle science and delicate art.