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Sours: Barrel vs. Kettle

Sour beers are unpredictable. They can take a long time to mature too, most sours taking more than a year before they can even be considered for blending or serving. Our brewers are proud to present their latest labors of love, one a barrel-aged Brett beer and the other a kettle sour. Both are fruity and delicious.


Racking My Brain took about 18 months to complete. Brewers took Saddleback wort and fermented it with three strains of a wild yeast called Brettanomyces, or “brett” for short. Brett is one of several bacteria that will slowly ferment sugar over time. About six months later, the brewers added back more Saddleback wort.


Of course, for a barrel-aged beer, the barrels are key. Lead brewer Rusty Packer filled Sauvignon Blanc barrels with the Saddleback-Brett combo, then after almost a year (toward the end of the process), added fresh raspberries from Dole’s Orchards. The result is a very clean, dry, tart, and refreshing beer.


After a meticulous process of fermentation, blending and aging, this sour that started its journey at our old brewery has, at last, come to fruition.


Milking the Clock is a kettle sour, a process that isn’t drastically different from our standard brewing process, but one that achieves its tart and sour characteristics in much less time than traditional sours. How much less? The process only adds about 48 more hours to our standard ale brew day.


For Milking the Clock, our brewers soured it in the brew kettle using yogurt. The yogurt bacteria, lactobacillus, (added within a couple days of the process) goes to work on the sugar until it gets to the right pH level, which takes about 24 hours. After this step, the pH drops further and the souring is complete. Then the wort is boiled, hopped – in this recipe, with Ahtanum and Comet hops – and fermented just like a standard brew.


But this is no standard brew, featuring passion fruit, tangerine, mango, and pineapple, After fermenting with that delicious fruit, a touch of lactose was added to sweetness and body. These details add up to a sweet, easy-to-drink beer that’s tart and refreshing.


There is no one definitive way to produce a sour beer, but here are a few fun facts to consider:


  • Sour beers are the oldest beer style. Before modern brewing practices (and the understanding of sterilization and pasteurization), all beers were at least a little sour and funky. Okay, probably a lot sour and funky.
  • The most classic styles of sour beers are Belgian Lambics, gueze, and Flanders reds, and American Wild Ales.
  • The most common bacterial agents used in sour beer are Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Acetobacter, and Brettanomyces.

Racking My Brain and Milking the Clock are both available now at the Tasting Room only. Check out the Pours page to see everything we have on tap. See you at the Brewery!


Sebago Brewing Company