This beer was brewed in collaboration with Les Brasseurs du Grand Paris and the microbiologist Nick Malmquist. We brewed with a portion of dark crystal malt and roasted barley and aged hops to give a ruby colored ale with low bitterness and a fruity and nutty character from the malt and my British yeast blend. The mash included flaked oats and was conducted at a very high temperature (72°C) in order to yield a relatively difficult to ferment wort with a high finishing gravity after the primary fermentation, the idea being to leave residual sugars for the next stage - a long maturation in Burgundian red wine casks with an infusion of Brettanomyces yeast for the first few months and lactic acid bacteria for the last few. The Brett strain chosen was of the Bruxellensis species and was derived from a bottle of Orval, the famous Trappist beer that develops notes of cherries and a rustic character after several months of bottle conditioning. We thought that the aromas of red fruit from the Pinot Noir casks would blend well with the wild yeast notes and dark malt flavors.
This was my first foray into 'wild' beers and it has been interesting to taste throughout the process with the additional layers of complexity added at each stage before bottling.
Most beers take a few weeks to make - this one required a bit more patience..
Here's a photographic timeline -
The finished beer equates more or less with our initial vision of it - red berry fruity notes from the Brett and the extraction of pinot noir character and some subtle oak blend beautifully with the original clean ruby ale. One major difference - we imagined the gravity drop in the cask would have been much more significant and given in a drier beer - in reality the Brettanomyces struggled to eat much of the very unfermentable liquid it was pitched into; perhaps another strain would have faired better or maybe the mash temperature employed could have been lower to make the residual sugars slightly more digestible. However despite the difficulty in assimilating the remaining carbohydrates the Brett did manage to impart plenty of classic rustic and fruity character probably as a result of the metabolism of other components of the young beer. The acidity from the bacteria is present but relatively restrained in part due to the contrasting residual sweetness from the malt (the final gravity of the beer is around 3.5°Plato, higher than the 0.5° we anticipated).
Overall we're delighted with the outcome - at 4.8% ABV this is a relatively low alcohol beer full of flavor and subtle nuances. It will be interesting to see how it evolves in the bottle but is ready to drink now fresh so to speak!
Regarding the name we chose Time and Tide from the expression 'Time and tide wait for no man', the meaning of which is that no man can slow down or prevent the passing of time or the rise and fall of the tide. We thought this was particularly apt for a beer that took this long to make and whose development was relatively difficult to control.
Look out for bottles at the usual specialty beer shops / restaurants / bars. Cheers!