Winter

Winter

Winter is a seasonal ale brewed with homemade shoyu kasu and foraged saffron milkcap mushrooms.

It was brewed in April 2023 mashing regenerative organic heritage Schooner barley and regenerative organic Beaufort soft red wheat grown by the Greenwood family in Coleambally, NSW, malted by Voyager Craft Malt in Whitton, NSW in our wooden ex-Foudre mashtun over a bed of wheat stalks of the same crop as was malted for the recipe.

This 70% Vienna malt grist was filtered through this straw lattice to our copper and boiled using steam via our electric boiler in the 3,000 litre pure-copper kettle made by Mark Burns in Griffith, NSW while being hopped with NSW-grown Fuggle whole cone hops grown by Ryefield Hops in Bemboka, NSW.

This sugar-laden, bitter wort was knocked out and further filtered through more whole cone Ryefield Fuggle Hops and Saffron Milkcap mushrooms foraged by Wildflower warehouse manager and production assistant Dan Turner on the weekend before.

 

It was then cooled and inoculated with our house culture of yeast and bacteria foraged from native flowers in New South Wales and allowed to ferment at warm temperatures for a fortnight in our wide-shallow ex-dairy vessel creating less hydrostatic pressure environment for the yeast and thus higher esterification.

This seasonal ale rested in stainless steel for two months before maceration on 30 kg of pressed shoyu kasu (soy sauce lees) from the amino sauce we had made in collaboration with friend Chef Jeff Lusis of Poly, Surry Hills. Winter is the first beer made with koji we have released outside of the Collective after experiments with the fungi in Te-Ire (2022) and Yabai Ne (2020).

This shoyu commenced production in October of 2021 using roasted organic Rosella soft wheat from Woodstock Farm & Flour and organic soy beans grown by the Greenwood Family in Coleambally, NSW. The beans were steamed in the combi oven at Poly and inoculated back at Wildflower using tane-koji spores purchased directly from Akita Konno, a century old producer of such cultures in the Akita Prefecture of Japan. Following a fermentation schedule taught by Marika Groen of Malica Ferments in an online shoyu class taken in July 2021, the koji was nursed through its fermentation for 48 hours through various temperature and humidity ranges for sufficient penetration of the spores into the grains.

 

These koji-fermented beans and wheat berries were then mashed in a saltwater brine using South Australian Olsson's Sea Salt into a moromi in an oak barrel with the head removed and was stirred twice daily for the next month, then once daily for the next three months and periodically for the next eight months.

In late October 2022, this shoyu moromi was pressed using a hydropress separating the clear soy sauce from the well broken down soybean and wheat solids. The sauce was bottled and used on the menu at Poly over the subsequent year and a half. A portion of the solids were cool-roasted and dried before being pulverised and used as a seasoning at both Poly and Ester restaurants, especially tasty on a hasselback potato.

The remaining majority of this kasu was macerated on this amber coloured ale before bottling with organic sugar as dosage. The refermentation was rather sluggish however and this ale had not readied itself for the 2023 winter season. Instead this ale has conditioned in bottle for 11 months before it is now ready to share for this winter 2024.

At release the ale has a lifted nose, leading with candied orange and cola spice. There is a burnt butter richness there too, and sweet bready malt reminiscent of freshly baked sourdough. The palate is delicate, with a fresh acid line. Citrus follows through here, adding a liveliness to the richer umami notes. An undeniable shoyu tang on the finish.

Label artwork by Louis Martin.

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