Trip Hazard

October 25 2014

Necessity is the mother of invention, but if she filed a paternity suit, my money would be on cock-up being the father.

Last year we had a little disaster. A 2000 litre tank of Trip Hop failed to ferment properly. I suspect a dud batch of yeast but despite every effort it simply ground to a halt. It’s not that it had an infection or any off flavours, it just seemed to lose interest. It didn’t taste bad, it just didn’t taste like Trip Hop should.

It’s not easy passing the death sentence on a brew. At other breweries I’ve seen a number of tanks go down the drain, or more inventively, be shipped off to begin a new life as malt vinegar – but we’d never had to make this call at the Garage, touch wood we won’t again. How would you feel saying goodbye to 4000 pints of beer?

There had to be another way.

At the time we just happened to have acquired a reasonable number of used white wine barrels. With nothing to lose, we packed as much death row Trip Hop we could into these barrels and dosed each one with a cocktail of Brettanomyces strains, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. Although they are among the most feared of ‘beer spoilage’ organisms, these little critters are the basis of the European Lambic style and also have a penchant for unfermented sugars – just the ticket for a ‘stuck ferment’. So the lion’s share of the tank got a last minute reprieve, the rest was read its last rites. We tucked the barrels away safely and forgot about them.

A year and a half later we’ve tentatively tapped a barrel and packed a lone keg off to the Pacific Beer Expo. Thoroughly changed by its year of quiet reflection this beer now definitely doesn’t taste like Trip Hop. This batch of Trip Hop may be dead – but long live Trip Hazard. It’s not your normal brew, but it’s all the more interesting for it.

If you want to taste Trip Hazard you’ll have to get yourself down to The Pacific Beer Expo, this Saturday and Sunday 25-26 October.

Remember, cock-up is the father of invention.