Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Tasting Notes: Lochristi Peach Sour (Yeast Bay)

I think one of the most important lessons I've learned over the last few years of brewing sour beers is patience.  I'm not talking about patience while the beer is in the fermenter, but rather about patience after the beer is packaged in bottles.  In the past I'd happily wait months and months for a sour to age in secondary, only to expect it to be ready two or three weeks after bottling like any other beer.  I quickly learnt that some sours taste bad after a few weeks in the bottle:  I've experienced diacetyl, tetrahydropyridine, low carbonation, and weird brett phenols that fade after a month or two.  But what I didn't fully appreciate was that even though a beer can taste OK after a few weeks in the bottle---no off-flavours, etc.---it can still take many months to come into its own.

This beer is a case in point.  It tasted fine after a few weeks, even months, in the bottle.  The peaches were subtle but present, there was a nice lactic sourness, and even some fruity esters from the brett, but it all seemed a bit one-dimensional and boring.  Almost like a less sour version of a fruited berliner-weisse: tart, fruity, and refreshing, but not particularly memorable.  But in the last month or so this beer has really come into its own.  The change wasn't particularly radical: its not that I can point to distinctive new flavours or aromas.  Instead, it's just melded together and softened so that where before it was angular and assertive, now its elegant and subtle.  Of course, now I only have one or two bottles left!

You can find details of the original beer in the post linked to above.  It was inoculated with The Yeast Bay's Lochristi blend, and aged on some peaches from a local farmer's market.  The peaches were never particularly assertive in the beer, and now they blend seamlessly with the other flavours.  (I'm not sure anyone would say that this is a Peach Beer, but they might pick peach as a flavour descriptor.)  The profile from the Lochristi blend is very similar to other beers I brewed with it, but it works particularly well here, rounding the beer out with a soft fruitiness that complements the peaches nicely.

Appearance: Rich yellow colour.  Head dissipates quickly.

Smell: Peach skins and overripe fruit.  Melon.  Green strawberries?  Yogurt-like tang underneath it.

Taste: Peaches and sweet melon.  Soft acidity.  Slightly doughy malt.  Very enjoyable.

Mouthfeel: Soft and well-balanced.  When this beer was younger and more one-dimensional I wanted more carbonation, but now I like the lowish-level because it adds to the soft fruitiness.

Drinkability & Notes:  I love where this beer has ended up.  Its one of my favourite sours in fact, although I suppose its barely more than tart.  I think it works so well because the beer is quite delicate and subtle: a more assertive brettanomyces blend, or more prominent fruit, would turn this into a completely different beer.


  1. Your observations on this beer appear to line up a lot with Ed's latest notes on how Lochristi aged the best out of the three YB blends that he beta tested. Very interesting!

  2. Yep, not going to lie, it was Ed's post that prompted me to finally write tasting notes for this beer.