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Craft Beer | Emeraldvale

 WHEN THINGS GO WRONG
Occasionally things don’t go according to plan.
Such was the case in early December 2014, at the most desperate point in our fledgling brewery’s journey – trying to fly into our first and most important December holiday season.  We had been brewing all November to the maximum of our capacity to ensure we could provide enough beer for the thousands of thirsty holiday makers.
Our largest batch of 1000 litres of the popular gold Ale was ready. Preparations were made and the kegging and bottling started. At first it was the faint smell, not unpleasant, but unusual, and a faint flutter of worry descended over me. I got a sample glass and took a taste – and worry turned to dread. We immediately stopped the process. Our beer had been taken over by a wild strain of yeast that gave a taste that was not our design. It was not unpleasant – in fact it was quite drinkable, but vastly different to our usual taste profile.
Whilst the beer remained chilled in the tank, sleepless and worried I tried to figure out what to do. At this point is probably prudent to mention that most of my beer education comes from making mistakes and admittedly, that is ultimately the best way to learn.
So, I decided to capitalise on the different taste profile and decided to make it even more different! I added 50litres of rum to it, bottled this fortified beer in spare, unmarked 750ml bottles and stacked them on a pallet in the cold room and left it to mature. I turned my energy and focus to the important business of the holidays. Inevitably we ran out of beer and an additional 1000litres would have been helpful to say the least.
This season whilst doing a tour and a tasting session I picked up a flaw in our 2000litre batch of Gold Ale. It turns out the batch had been slightly over sparged (the process of washing hot water over the grain to collect the sugar produced by grain.) The PH was too high, and tannins combined with wild yeast in the fermentation ended up altering the taste, producing a spicy clove, smokey, Weiss flavour.
For our die-hard Gold Ale fanatics, this flavour is not consistent with our usual taste profile and we apologise. We are replacing the stock where we can find it.
So, what happened to the 1000 bottles of rum infused beer left in the cold room? Well it quietly stood there for a year. By 2016 we had a steady stream of people coming specifically to buy the rum infused wild beer – right up until they were fighting over the last bottle some 2 years after it was made.