The Red Messenger
We’re pleased to present a beer nearly a year in the making: The Red Messenger – a barrel fermented sour red ale.
Red Messenger was 100 percent fermented in oak barrels using a mixed-culture fermentation. This mixed culture includes farmhouse ale yeast, brettanomyces, and a culture of wild yeast and souring bacteria native to Coastal Virginia. Every wild/sour beer we make will include this native culture in fermentation. While we could source laboratory cultures for souring purposes, we feel it’s important to ground our wild beers in the local environment and give them complexity that only a truly “wild” culture can provide. Our philosophy is that to create genuinely wild beers, we must harness the environment and allow nature to imbue a sense of place into them. In this way, we are creating something unique and something that cannot be exactly replicated elsewhere.
The Red Messenger
One thing that wild beers require more than anything else, is patience. The time it takes for a mixed culture to do its work is prolonged and often unpredictable. We rely on a living organism to do the heavy lifting with every beer we make, but “pure” lab culture fermentations are far more predictable and replicable than those performed with a wild, mixed culture. The array of yeasts and bacteria strains are locked in a struggle for dominance throughout such a process. The stages of which microflora dominates and in what order are known to us, but it’s difficult to predict exactly how long each stage will last. This depends on a variety of factors including pitching rate, temperature, fermentation vessel, and the wort being fermented. Suffice it to say, we’ve learned a ton about our house culture over the past year.
The Red Messenger spent 10 months in oak fermenting and maturing, then another month in bottles and kegs conditioning. Another point that separates our wild beers from the others we make is the process used to carbonate them. Our wild beers are 100 percent naturally conditioned, meaning they are not carbonated with pressurized CO2, but instead allowed to re-ferment in bottles and kegs. In a sealed vessel, fermentation creates CO2 pressure, which when left alone, dissolves into the liquid inside. This process lends a softer, finer carbonation that compliments a sour beer’s natural acidity.
The Red Messenger is 7.0% ABV, 12 IBU, and has a Final Gravity of 1.000. It will be available on draft and to go in 750ml bottles at the brewery on Saturday, April 25th.