PORTLAND, Ore. — Von Ebert Brewing, the award-winning and locally owned Portland-based brewing company, on Friday is releasing the latest additions to its Heritage bottled beer program, Alma and The Quality of Silence.
Alma is a foeder-aged farmhouse ale with brettanomyces and organic peaches. The 6% ABV beer has flavors of stone fruit with botanical and funk characteristics.
The Quality of Silence is a blended mixed-culture beer with a light addition of Rainier cherries. The 5.9% tart beer offers drinkers flavors of citrus and marzipan with a hint of cherry.
This beer started as a farmhouse ale fermented in stainless steel. The malt bill consisted of an under modified wind malt called Gateway from Mecca Grade Estate Malt in Madras, Oregon, as well as Venora, which is the same malster’s version of Vienna malt. Alongside these, Einkorn and Emmer Faro from Bluebird Grain Farms in Winthrop, Washington, were used. Savinjski Golding hops, also known as Styrian Goldings, were used in the boil.
After the first fermentation, the beer was transferred to a foeder to go through the second fermentation. That foeder was one of four built for Von Ebert by Foeder Crafters of America in St. Louis, Missouri, and has been designated by the Von Ebert team to only contain brettanomyces and a “clean” base to feed it with. No lactic acid bacteria touches the foeder. For this beer, the Von Ebert team chose a number of different brett strains and brett blends to pair with the base farmhouse ale.
Once the sugar content was stable and the flavors were to the liking of the Von Ebert team, a portion of the foeder beer was moved to gin barrels that originally housed California Zinfandel. To ensure flavors of Zin and gin did not dominate the profile, the beer only rested in the barrels for a short period of time.
The gin barrel aged beer was then moved into a stainless steel tank with 1,000 pounds of peaches.
“I was looking for high quality, organic peaches to use in the beer,” stated Sean Burke, head brewer, Von Ebert Glendoveer. “My internet searching led me to Alma Gaeta from Peachwood Orchard in Hood River, Oregon. During my discussions with her, I explained I was looking for a blend of peach varieties. I wanted one that had a high level of classic ‘peach flavor’ and another that was more acid forward. In the end, she helped us settle on three different varieties.”
Once the fruit fermented out and the maturation was complete, the beer was moved off the fruit and into a brite tank to prepare for packaging. For the fourth and final fermentation, a slightly lower level of carbonation was used in the bottle so that carbonic acid wouldn’t cause the beer to become too sharp or to lose the subtle nuances from all the previous steps.
“After my conversations with Alma, it seemed only natural to name the beer after her,” Burke mentioned. “Her passion for what she does and her story are inspiring to me as a craftsperson.”
The Quality of Silence
This beer is a blend of a single puncheon beer and a beer from one of the Von Ebert open-top foeders.
The base beer for the puncheon portion consisted of a blend of European pilsner malts and North American un-malted white wheat. This was fermented with our favorite farmhouse ale string in stainless steel, then moved to puncheons. For the mixed-culture, the Von Ebert brewing team propped up the brett blend that was used in the making of Bouquet Blanc earlier this year, and also cultured microflora off Glenora grapes from the backyard of head brewer, Sean Burke.
The base of the open-top foeder portion of the blend consisted of two different foeder-aged beers and some “clean” stainless fermented saison. All of this was blended into the open-top, or removable top, foeder.
The team then pitted 350 pounds of Rainier cherries from Evans Fruit Company in Moshier, Oregon. Rainier cherries aren’t a very flavor forward cherry, but have a nice acid to sugar ratio. They also bagged and added 28 pounds of the pits to the foeder for flavor. During the first part of the fermentation of the fruit, the Von Ebert brewing team performed a punch down multiple times to maximize fruit contact with the microbes in the beer and to allow CO2 to escape through the cap of floating cherries. The top was then sealed and the beer matured on the fruit.
“Then we held a blending session with the entire brewing staff,” said Burke. “The goal was to get all the brewers familiar with what we had in the oak, but also to try to create a few blends that we could use in the future. One of the advantages to using more people than just our Glendoveer brewing staff for the blending process is that we get a broader palate spectrum and therefore, more complex blends to work with.”
One blend that most everyone in the blending session landed on was the blend eventually used to create The Quality of Silence. By blending in the puncheon beer, the cherry flavor was reduced a bit, but the resulting beer is dynamic and really shows off the sum of the parts.
The beer was blended, packaged, and conditioned in the bottle, then matured in the bottle to stabilize some of the flavors and let the blend meld.
“The name comes from a piece I was listening to where astronomers were talking about the different types of silence in the universe and how they pertain to whether there may or may not be other life forms out there,” Burke explained. “They concluded that if there aren’t, the fate of the universe could be in the hands of humanity. It’s a thought provoking notion.”
Alma and The Quality of Silence are both available now on draft and in 500 mL bottles at Von Ebert Glendoveer, and Von Ebert Pearl.
Find Von Ebert on social media: @vebrewing and facebook.com/VonEbertBrewing.
About Von Ebert Brewing
Von Ebert Brewing sits at the crossroads where storied traditions meet bold new ideas in brewing. Independently owned and operated, Portland, OR, based Von Ebert produces award-winning beers in a variety of styles. In addition to modern IPAs and crisp lagers, the oak-aged, bottle-conditioned heritage beer program sets the brewery apart. All of the beers pair perfectly with the elevated American pub cuisine served at both brewpub locations. For more information, please visit www.vonebertbrewing.com.