Lanikai Brewing Company is launching a new line of rotating keg only beers, called the Brewers Series, starting with a POG Berliner Weisse. The brewery has been focused on production of their two core beers, a double IPA and Porter, since their launch earlier this year and the new Brewers Series will allow them to get new and experimental beers into the local market.
The brewery recently purchased a 5 barrel fermenter specifically for test batches and small run beers. Owner and head brewer Steve Haumschild says it’s a way for them to explore passion projects and also get new styles into the market, while still focusing on their full production of 808 Imperial IPA and Pillbox Porter. “We plan to launch a new beer every 3-4 weeks. These will be on tap mostly at LBC, but also at a few very limited other locations around town,” says Haumschild.
The first Brewers Series beer is a classic Berliner Weisse with a local twist of Passion Fruit, Orange and Guava aka POG. Haumschild mentioned that he’s always been a huge fan of the tart German style wheat ale and because it’s been so hot this summer he’s really drinking them often. In keeping with the company’s motto of “island inspired beers”, Haumschild and team decided to pair the lacto based tartness with the local favorite POG. But instead of merely buying commercial POG juice, Haumschild and his wife foraged for wild strawberry guava, guava and lilikoi fruits. They also sourced more guavas and mandarin oranges from the Kailua Farmers Market.
For a young upstart brewery that only brews “clean” beers, introducing bacteria into the brewery is a risk. Haumschild notes that he spent a lot of time researching and speaking to other brewers on how they control lactic fermentations and felt confident that they could do it without risking contaminating the rest of the brewery.
But Haumschild and team decided to take an even bigger risk by allowing the wort to be exposed to open air in order to try and capture wild microbes. Haumschild was confident though that they could manage the chance of contamination. “I thought it was time to push our boundaries as brewers and swing for the fences. There are so many different techniques in brewing out there, so why keep it under the same routine when there is so much to explore. We got this fermenter so we could make anything that we wanted to try for ourselves. We always discussed getting a wild ale, so we just decided to go for it.”
The end result is “Forever Summer” – a Wild Hawaiian Ale P.O.G Berliner Weiss at 4.2% ABV & 2 IBUs. Only 10 kegs will be available starting this week. I caught up with Haumschild to find out more about the brewing of this unique beer and learn more about their big gamble.
Was this a mash or kettle sour process?
We kind of made our own way. We mash soured, kettle soured then kettle fermented. We put some strawberry guava and lilikoi that my wife and I foraged in the mash and then added lacto to kettle sour. More on the wild ale in the below.
Did you inoculate with Latco before or after allowing the wild microbes into the wort?
Before, I wanted the Lacto to take hold and aggressively add tartness prior to any yeast took hold. Generally speaking when they are put together, it takes longer for the lacto to sour.
Describe your process for allowing wild microbes into the wort? How long did you allow it to be exposed and at what temperature was the wort?
It was a quick exposure of less than 1 hour. The kettle was set at standard lacto-sour temperatures of 90-100F, and then cooled slightly. All of our regular Fermenters were all full at the time, so we did not need our kettle for a few days. Once I knew this timing, I decided to continue to allow fermentation in the kettle (we call it Kettle Fermenting) with the wild yeast. Basically we kettle soured, then “kettle fermented” under CO2.We deduced that we could control any potential infection of wild bugs by keeping it in a single tank and boiling it if it started to get out of control. I am not sure we would have allowed wild yeast to inoculate if we did not use this technique. In any case, we do keep a separate set of hoses and soft goods for our new sour program beers.
Can you describe how you processed all of the fruit? What did you have to do to it after you picked it?
We used zest from the mandarins, and processed the Guava and lilikoi by hand to eliminate any pulp first. We then de-seeded it and brought it to a nectar. It took many more days then I had anticipated to process it all!
When did you add the fruit to the beer?
Some in the Mash, a little in the whirlpool/hopback and some in secondary.
Did you get this new yeast banked with a yeast company?
Before bringing the wort to microbial stability, we pulled off a batch of it and let it finish fermenting and flocculate out. We confirmed under microscope it was the same strain and that nothing else took hold. We then packaged it in ice and sent it off to a large commercial brewers lab to isolate the strain from any lacto still remaining, and then bank it. We also kept some of the original strain here that we are currently experimenting with still. The strain is very unique. Its got hints of lemon, lime and some banana. I am really excited about it.
What type of lab equipment do you currently have? Why is it important for you guys? And how and when do you use it?
We have a super basic lab with a microscope, hydrometers, slants, counters, pH meters, flasks, pipettes, cylinders, thermometers, stir plates, test tubes, etc. All of it gets used daily to check beer in progress, yeast generational health, and standard readings. It suits our needs for our current size, but as we grow, so will our lab equipment.
Does your background in biology help? Are there new things you’ve had to learn that are specific to brewing and dealing with yeast, bacteria and other fermentation issues?
I earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Pre-Med, Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology and taught Biology Lab at The Ohio State University for a short while. I do believe that a science background is very helpful, but just like anything else, its more about the love of science versus a degree. Since we cannot see what is going on in the Fermenters, we can only take scientific readings and use that knowledge to drive our decisions by deductive reasoning. Yeast is probably the most significant of the 4 basic ingredients in brewing, so learning about our specific strains, behaviors and limitations is and will be a lifelong learning process. Yeast is alive and all we can do is feed it so it turns into amazing beers. Siebel Institute dug pretty deep into the microbiology of beer making, which further assisted in my understanding. On the flipside, I grew up in a scientific family so I have always loved the scientific process and love being a geek and reading thesis papers on it. As the saying goes for all the science geeks out there, “beer is not the problem, it’s a scientific solution”