Times have changed.
When Tampa’s Southern Brewing and Winery was established 10 years ago as a homebrew and winemaking supply shop, adding fruit extract to beer was somewhat novel. Fast forward to now, and mixed-culture, fruited, foeder-fermented beers are just a few of many entries on the brewery and supply store’s tap list.
There’s a bit of technical talk in that last bit, so let’s unpack it.
Mixed culture refers to the use of microorganisms beyond standard brewer’s yeast, typically involving some mixture of Brettanomyces (often referred to as “wild” yeast), lactobacillus and pediococcus. Together, these organisms produce a rich tapestry of flavor and aroma compounds in certain types of beer, such as Belgian lambic and American wild ale.
Some beers of this ilk — Pineapple Foeder, a brew that debuted last month at Southern Brewing’s 10-year anniversary party — are fermented in a large wooden vat instead of a steel fermenter. This vat, a foeder, absorbs some of the aforementioned microorganisms with each brew cycle, adding complexity and house character to subsequent brews.
This brings us back to Pineapple Foeder, a truly wonderful fruited sour beer fermented in a foeder with Southern’s house culture, and then treated with loads of pineapple, lending it an unmistakably juicy nose and pleasant sweetness that plays very nicely with the base beer’s restrained acidity.
While some mixed-culture brews exhibit major phenolic characteristics — the classic “funk” found in many sour beers — Pineapple Foeder is relatively nuanced, with low-level acetic flavors barely registering above the taste threshold and a creamy, balanced base beer as a foundation for a delicately tart finish.
It’s a unique and satisfying brew that’s a testament to both Southern’s mixed-culture fermentation program as well as the speed at which esoteric styles and techniques become commonplace in our rapidly evolving beer culture.
Ten years is a heck of a run.
Swing by Southern Brewing’s tasting room at 4500 N Nebraska Ave. to sample Pineapple Foeder, along with other foeder treatments, including plum-cardamom, mixed berry and cranberry-orange, and you’ll quickly see why the brewery has made it this long.
Have a suggestion for the Local Craft Beer of the Week? Brewers, have a limited release coming that we should know about? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.