Picture it, citizens: there I was, minding my business, bench-trialing and blending some more- and less-aged sour beer into a semblance of a whole, when the imp of the perverse called an audible.
Let’s back up – the day and hour had arrived that these two ships passing in the night were finally going to get it on, an involved and tangential and hyperlink-intensive metaphor for the blending and packaging of Be Kind Northland, constituted of a smaller portion of older, redder, nastier Jan Roten 2011 – which had spent a bit over a year in an oak barrel with bugs from Wyeast Roeselare Blend and then an additional two months out of the barrel and on rhubarb – with a larger portion of the younger, blonder, milder Basecamp Sour 2012, just coming up on two months in the Roeselare-inoculated barrel so recently vacated.
Basecamp was just sour enough to be a wild beer but not so far gone as to be untamed – the buttery beginnings of some Brett, some lactic Braxton-Hicks contractions hinting at the acid child forming therein and promised by the months to come. Jan Roten was, well, the best kind of rotten … like Satan ate a bowl full of Great Lakes-kissed Montmorency cherries and personally spat each pit at your epiglottis. Stained bloody with oak and age and red rhubarb stalks, the leavings of bacteria and cold-weather produce alike ganging up on the taste buds: too much on its own, but great to have on your side in a fight – or in a blend.
So I had determined the proportions I wanted and siphoned the required into the same waiting keg, with the unused remainder of each beer going back onto the rhubarb slurry together to wait for another victim. The keg was full, it was ready to be sealed. Then the imp of the perverse – as Neal Stephenson calls it, but sometimes I think of it as my inner Chip Walton – called that audible:
“Watchoo know about more fruit, ninja? You might could oughta put some frozen cranberries and some frozen strawberries in a mesh bag and throw it in the keg! They’re right over there in the freezer! Do it!”
And I thought: “Well, it is called ‘Be Kind Northland,’ and it would be rude to argue … I’ll just go along with it now and quietly seethe about it later like a proper Upper-Midwesterner.”
A bit of time for the blend to marry, then carbonation, then tasting. Stay tuned.