By Nick Holt
Late last year, Phil and Dan from Hiker Brewing in Salisbury asked BABBs to collaborate on a GABS beer this year. They asked us to come up with a concept and they would help us make it. For those who haven’t attended a GABS, it is a beer festival held in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney which has some interesting beers from breweries from all over Australia. The festival usually showcases the crazier side of beer with a lot of breweries making novelty beers and, in our case, we think we have a killer idea that fits the bill.
The beer is called “hold the pork” and is a sweet and sour pork rice lager. It aims to mimic the delicious delicacy that is Sweet and Sour Asian sauce. The base beer is a rice lager which is then dosed with smoked pineapple & Szechuan peppers for flavour, lactic acid for sourness and glycerol for sweetness and a thick mouthfeel. We want the smoke from the pineapple to give an impression of meat flavours which are often associated with smoke. Finally, a special food colouring is used to give the reddish colour.
Dan, Phil, Liam, Tony, and I started with a bench trial with a few litres of a base rice lager split into 100ml base beer that was then dosed with varying amounts of each ingredient. The pineapple and Szechuan were done as a tincture beforehand to make the process a bit simpler. This is a great was to do some testing for strange additions before committing a whole batch to an idea. You can dial up or dial down each addition and see how they play with each other. Once we settled on our amount, Dan performed some calculations to scale it for a 700L batch size. Big thanks to Tony for organising the base beer and ingredients for the bench trial.
On the 14 of March a few of us met at Hiker for brew day. Our focus was to skin, dice, and smoke 96 pineapples. Trimming and dicing the pineapples was less work than I thought despite Liam’s cleaver knife and his ability to decimate chopping boards. Big thanks to Liam and Ryan for their help with this.
The Hiker guys had organised a local BBQ restaurant, Bare Knuckles, to supply a big offset smoker to smoke the pineapple. As big as this was, it still took us all day to process the pineapple through the smoker. Interestingly we realised that the heat made the pineapple sweat out the juice which in turn was limiting the amount of temperature we could smoke at. We ended up having to periodically drain the liquid into a bucket to get the desired result.
Once this was all done, the pineapple was put into the cold room and was added to the beer at day 3 of ferment. Once fermentation is near complete, the remaining ingredients will be added, and we can have a taste and dial in anything else it needs.
We are really looking forward to seeing how the idea scales into a big batch and can’t wait to taste it at GABS this year. Keep an eye out for some BABBS for GABS T-shirts that we want to print to represent our beer at GABS this year. I want to shout out a big thank you to Daniel Venema and Phil Sharp from Hiker Brewing for giving us the opportunity to make such a wild beer.