It’s A Fruit Based Love: New Advanced Oak Releases

By Travis Camacho, Barrel Program Manager
November 8, 2018

We just celebrated the release of a couple new sour beers from the Advanced Oak program, including the inaugural release of Cult of the Sun, our Buddha's hand and yuzu sour blonde, Brette Davis Eyes with passionfruit, and everyone's favorite watermelon sour, It's A Fruit Based Love.

It’s a Fruit Based Love

This is the second year for our watermelon collaboration with Imperfect Produce, which tasted so good last year, we had to bring it back. We only produce a small amount of this beer every year, maybe 10 barrels (310 gal), but it's definitely one of our favorites. We fermented this beer with three different strains of Brett and our house Lactobacillus.

When we think it's just about ready (around one year), we pull it into small wine tanks and infuse it with watermelons, then let it ferment for another month or so. We basically spend half a day cutting over 500lbs of watermelons, fruit ninja-style, into buckets. Then we blend them up a little bit more with our super-secret and highly engineered fruit blender so we can get all the watermelon goodness infused in every drop. Since the entire fruit, rind and all, goes in, it's actually kind of fun, and one of the easier fruits we process.

We chose base barrels that had a little more fruity sweetness to accentuate the watermelon, quality mixed with a watermelon jolly rancher. I think the fruit works quite well with our base beer, to be just perfectly fruity, bright and tart, which makes it one of our favorites around the brewery.

We like working with Imperfect Produce because we don't judge the fruit by how it looks, but by how it tastes, and where it came from. The first thing we do when we get fruit is chop and smash it all up to infuse our beers. If you're not familiar with Imperfect, they're focused on selling fruits and veggies grown in the U.S. that never make it off the farm (about 20%), due to the strict cosmetic standards of grocery stores. Imperfect works directly with farmers to find a home for this "ugly" produce through a subscription box delivery. Customers save money, eat healthier, support farmers, and fight food waste. To date, the Imperfect community has kept over 35 million lbs of produce from going to waste.

Cult of the Sun

One of my corny jokes about brewers is that they are always putting random stuff in their mouths, like children. At any given point, you'll see one of us deep in thought chewing on some sort of grains, hops, wood chips, whole coffee beans, or any other raw ingredient that aren't really anything you would normally want to eat. It really is the first step toward making a new beer. It all starts with a new idea, or a new flavor to work with, and builds from there.

Berkeley Bowl is great for finding new and fun ingredients, especially produce. You can imagine my excitement walking through the produce aisles and happening upon a Buddha's hand citron lemon. I bought it, took it home, and promptly broke off a piece to put it in my mouth. If you've never seen one, most people's first reactions are: WHAT IS THAT?!? It’s easily one of the weirdest looking fruits, with tentacle like appendages. It hardly looks edible to be honest, but it's very unique, with powerful lemon aromatics. It tastes amazing, and I knew we had to make a sour beer with it.

This beer, like most of our sour releases, starts life as a 60-barrel batch of blonde sour that we ferment in stainless steel for around a month and a half, with multiple Brett and Lacto strains. We take this batch and split it into Zinfandel barrels, and allow continued fermentation and maturation to take place for at least 8 months. We then pull the beer into one of our stainless fruiting tanks where the beer goes through a secondary fermentation with the fruit for another couple months.  

We add only a couple hundred pounds of Buddha's hand and yuzu, which is a super bright and flavorful Japanese lemon. Yuzu has a very aromatic and bright citrus character, with undertones reminiscent of grapefruit and mandarin. The two citrus fruits play wonderfully together, bringing out an intense fruity citrus flavor in the finished beer. The bright lemony character of these combined fruits meshes with the lemonade-like tartness and the grassy, herbal, and subtle Brett funk from the sour beer.

In honor of the super lemony bright character, and the beers cult following, we decided to call this beer Cult of the Sun. It's available now and we made enough to send a few cases out for distribution, but the majority of it will be sold at our retail locations. Look for it on draft and in bottles at Drake's Barrel House.

Brette Davis Eyes with Passionfruit

Last but not least, we'll be releasing a super small batch of Brette Davis Eyes with passionfruit. We liked this beer so much when we first made it that we decided to bottle a couple kegs. We're thinking about expanding this beer next year since we really like how the fruit plays off our already tropical blonde base. Let us know what you think!