We’ve been holding back the beers with Simply Red…
Many of us can recall the days of cassette tapes and FM radio, and being strapped into the back of our parents car while they blasted whatever cheesy tunes were trending at the time.
Some of us, however, were the ones driving the car… forcing our children to listen to the gloriously gooey love songs of the ’80s and ’90s, by chart-topping artists such as Simply Red.
How this cheesy, soul-pop sensation crooned its way from broken-hearted ballads and onto a decal at Beerfarm, we’ll never know. But with tunes like ‘Holding back the beers‘ and ‘If you don’t know Flanders Red by now‘, it was bound to happen sooner or later.
Despite its name, Simply Red was one of the most complex beers our brew crew have ever made. Houseing a mass of bacterias and yeasts which spent the last 12 months ageing in 8 different barrels, our Beerfarmer’s had their work cut out from them.
But with a bit of balance, a lot of taste-testing and some ‘holding back the beers’… they finally nailed it! We sat down with our very own Beerfarmer Josh Thomas, for a little Q&A on the challenges behind creating this sour-style red ale, and why he believes this super limited release is a real chart-topper.
Simply red wasn’t such a simple beer to make, being brewed in separate barrels and not in the brewery. What makes this brew so special?
The Flanders Red style is complex in both flavour and process. Along with aging beer in barrels for 12 months, we are faced with the challenges of balancing a lot of different bacteria and their characteristics that don’t come with your day-to-day Pale Ale.
With the unique variety of flavour profiles associated with Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces, we needed to play the balancing act and use the aged red malt base to carry through flavours of plum, raisin and cherry.
To add to this; every barrel is different, so it’s a process of elimination when it comes to the blending, another complex piece of the funky puzzle!
Talk us through the barrel process. What’s the benefit of leaving yeast and bacteria in barrels for 12 months, and what was the outcome?
Basically, to commence the process of micro-oxidation and to allow enough time for the bacteria to develop and mature. The intensity of flavour changes and increases as time goes on.
With some barrels carrying a bacteria like Acetobacter means it will consume alcohol with oxygen and produces Acetic Acid (Vinegar) in the barrel, so the control is making sure it doesn’t turn into 100% vinegar… that wouldn’t quite be beer.
We cultured up multiple strains of Brettanomyces and Lactobaccillus as well as some wild yeast in barrels with some last running wort. This ended up evolving into one of the favourites amongst the cultures we had going.
Out of all 8 barrels you aged, can you describe the flavours or aromas you ended up with in each?
Among some of the barrel tasting notes we did throughout the blending exercise, were:
Honey & sherry like characters
Sweet stone fruit aroma, oaky palette
Cherry & pepper, clean finish
Sherry like characters, more acidic than most
Bretty woody character, acidity higher
You sourced Cab Merlot barrels from Blind Corner, an organic and biodynamic winery in Margaret River. Out of all the epic wine to choose from in the region, what made Blind Corner stand out?
We have worked with Ben Gould (Owner and Founder of Blind Corner) since the beginning of BeerFarm days, and he has always been a winemaker we converse with a’ plenty.
We have served Bens wine alongside our Beers since we opened the venue and often try to wrangle some barrels off him. Being an organic winery it means his wines are a bit more unique and the barrels are free of any sulphur.
What flavours can Flanders fans expect to taste in Simply Red, and does it differ from your normal Flanders red ale?
I think the beauty of this beer is that it doesn’t stray too far from what its meant to be and I think that is also part of the success in making one of these beers. I think if anything, we have made it the BeerFarm way and that’s easy drinking for such a complex beer. Although we have harnessed in a lot of complex flavours, they’re all kept in check and balance each other out nicely.
What was the biggest challenge the brew crew faced when making Simply Red?
The biggest challenge would be balancing the variety of flavour characteristics and ensuring they all compliment each other and don’t overpower each other. Being a beer with so many layers of flavour, it still needs to be something you can enjoy and not get blown away with every sip. So to craft that is pretty challenging.
Who in the beer world is doing Flanders Red right, and what’s your favourite Flanders red that you’ve tasted so far?
I dare say we would be shot if we suggested anyone other than Rodenbach doing this style of beer right… and darn well too! Every rendition of their Flanders red ales are exceptional and nothing less, it’s pretty much the benchmark of what we would want to achieve when making this style of beer.
For me, barrel-aged with cherries is one of my favourites. Mostly because I usually don’t handle too much of the beers produced with cherries, but this one is so evenly balanced that the fruit works so well with the style – almost a match made in heaven. If you can get your hands on the Rogue, it’s also an exceptional beer in that style.
What bacteria from the brewing process would you say suits your personality the most, and why?
Probably Lactobaccillus, because at times I can be a bit tart… and sometimes a little bit sour!
If you could sit down with anyone in the world over a Simply Red, who would it be and why?
Probably Rudi Ghequire from Rodenbach, so he can review it and tell us how to make it better!
Want to get your lips around the first ever release of Simply Red? Tastings happening across Sydney and Perth on the below dates! Hit the links for more info.
SYDNEY – Bucket Boys Bar, September 19
After last year’s event was shut down, we’ve put in the hard yards to get all the boxes ticked and […]
If you haven’t met our Beer Farmer Josh Thomas, jump on our Instagram feed and check out the picture of […]
With the warmer weather in full swing, there’s no time like the present to kick back in the sunshine with […]
Blobfish Beer Festival celebrates some of the most unique, unknown and intriguing brews to emerge from the beer scene… so […]
It’s that time of year again… the air is icy, your breath is visible and the sunshine comes in rations. […]
Over 100 years old, The Wyola Club is one of Fremantle’s most admirable and long-standing establishments. A High Street building […]
In a region fuelled by premium booze, it’s hard to stand out. Here in The Margaret River Region, new producers […]
The StreetX Collaboration We’ve swapped our work boots for Air Max’s, our cowboy hats for flat peaks and put our […]
Addendum: Following from the withdrawal of the Beerfarm Pineapple III on the 15th of Feb 2019 we’d like to say […]
The Art: Old Bedford This screen print was inspired by an old truck Caroline saw in the middle of a […]
We’re making some changes to our beloved IPA and IPL… well, their cans at least. Both beers that started as […]
On Friday night, magic happened at the Beerfarm. Designers, artists, creators, jewellery makers, fashionistas, and foodies all gathered together on […]
It’s been just over a year since we made our first exploratory trip to the not too distant land of […]
On Saturday, 27th of October, Beerfarm hosted it’s first ever comedy night on the Farm, ‘Laughs and Draughts’, and it […]
Unless you’ve been cut off from civilisation due to filming the most recent season of Survivor, you’ve no doubt […]
The ties between agriculture and the beloved nectar we call beer date back to the beginning of human history. No […]
The moon was exceptionally high and clear on Friday, the 22nd of June, and as the Southern Hemisphere was coming […]
The reality of living in the south-west during winter can hit home hard to residents and businesses alike as temperatures […]
Words by Bob Garnant of The Countryman, The West Australian. The Beerfarm Rodeo produced some heroes in front of […]
Beerfarm drops the clutch and throws dust, in collaboration with LAMP to support regional mental health issues, while promoting the […]
The Relationship The story behind the relationship of Rocky Ridge and Beerfarm starts simply with a postcode, two farm breweries […]
The Beer In the heart of the Margaret River, surrounded by vines and red-handed winemakers, what better way to celebrate […]
MRCCI and Nature Conservation Margaret River Region‘s second annual environment celebration last Thursday was another huge success with over 100 […]
Beerfarm Good Times from Beerfarm on Vimeo. On April 16th 2017 – Over 3000 people showed up to soak up […]
Much has been brewing three hours south of Perth in what is increasingly turning into the Margaret River beer region. […]
What an epic night! Were we so stoked to see thousands of you descend on the Beerfarm to come and […]