We are excited to announce that Wildflower Playing with 🔥 will be available online and for take-away/collection from 12pm (Sydney time) on Wednesday 20 May 2020.
Playing with 🔥 is a beer made for the 2019 Terroir Project Festival conceptualised and hosted by Firestone Walker Brewing Company. A fermentation of golden wort with and by hand harvested Semillon bunches from Tyrrell’s Estate in Pokolbin, NSW.
The concept of the project, as expressed by Firestone Walker, is for 'each participating brewery to produce their own distinct hybrid, but with three binding stipulations: we all had to use the same grain bill, the same maturation period in barrels and the same co-fermented percentage of wort and wine grapes'. The kicker - all grapes had to be grown within 100 miles of each brewery. The result is an unprecedented exploration into how “terroir” - or sense of place - drives what we taste.' In 2019, we (Wildflower) were one of 11 participating breweries to make a beer for this event alongside Firestone Walker Barrelworks, Jester King, Side Project, Garage Project, Trillum, Arizona Wilderness, Beavertown, Birraficio del Ducato, The Bruery, Sierra Nevada and the Wild Beer Co.
It was this beer and the invitation to participate in this festival which forced me to summon my courage and ring my friend Chris Tyrrell and ask if we would be able to use some of the most iconic grapes in all of Australia to make a beer that would be presented on a world stage. Chris, much to my delight (and somewhat surprise) was happy to help and mentioned that we would be able to pick and purchase grapes off of their famed Johnno's plot. As the crow flies, from Wildflower to this exact plot is 125.71km (78.11mi), so we just made the guidelines. The name for this beer is largely driven by this reality that a very young family owned brewery was allowed to work with the produce of some of the most important plantings of grapes in the country on a 162 year old family farm. In making this beer we are playing with fire, playing around with lit fruit, iconic vines. In doing a little reading for the release of this beer, I came across a quote from Bruce Tyrrell (Chris' father) on their website saying, "family businesses always have a longer term view of the world, its operation and its people." While our businesses are of quite differing ages, I would like to think we take a similar approach and they are provide an excellent example for my brother-in-law Chris and me on family business.
In another reading, this beer is named for my apprehension with applying wine nomenclature to beer. Terroir is never a word I have used to express the beer that we make and while I have my reservations about using it myself, we are humbled to be invited to take part in Firestone Walker's Terroir Project festival. Thus, I am playing with fire in my own right, stretching some set of arbitrary rules I make for myself in order to participate, collaborate and at the end of the day contribute to the category of mixed culture beers made with wine grapes.
This beer was made in a similar way to the previously released, 'Touched by the Side of the Sun' whereby we shoved a whole lotta freshly picked Semillon grapes into a single 500-litre puncheon barrel in January of 2019, topped the barrel with our Gold wort and allowed the wort to be fermented solely by the native yeast on the grapes. The beer fermented with and macerated on the grapes for 8 months in barrel before it was transferred off the grapes for bottling in September 2019 and conditioned in bottle for another 8 months before release. We didn’t add any of our house culture or any foreign yeast other than what was residing on the skins of the grapes at harvest.
The aromas open with creamy lemon, memories of dandelion fields and a skinsy, earthy element to finish. The palate is clean, dry and compact with the base Gold beer bridging well into the more vinuous notes. More reminiscent of Semillon wine than St Florence 2019: Semillon.
We have 620 x 375ml bottles available now to order online for home delivery or collection at our cellar door ($20 a bottle, limit of 6 per person). There are also a handful of 1.5 litre magnums ($100 a magnum, limit of 1 per person).
I would like to say a small word of thanks to the multitude of people at Firestone Walker Brewing Company for their incredibly warm and generous hospitality throughout the festival weekend in September 2019. On top of even being invited to show our beers, Luke and I were overwhelmed and totally humbled by the experience.
Like all our beers, Playing with 🔥 is best enjoyed when decanted off a settled natural yeast sediment at cellar temperatures (10-12°C).