Behind the Beer

Behind the Beer – Transfusion red Berliner weisse

Here’s the first in an occasional series where a brewers tells the story behind one of their beers. To start things off is Darren Robinson is the ‘‘Doctor’’ in Doctor’s Orders Brewing from Sydney. He’s a bit of a fan of the Berliner weisse style – having made a few of them. This includes the popular Cephalopod – which featured squid ink – and the more recent rhubarb-infused Transfusion.Transfusion_Final_Transparent

What’s the appeal of Berliner weisse for you?
It’s that clean tart, easy-drinking flavour. After being in craft beer for a number of years you get to a point where everything’s hop-driven – it’s about big, malty flavours and hop dominance. It’s nice to peel it back and have something which is refreshing and crisp – a real palate cleanser.

Is this the same base as Cephalopod but with rhubarb replacing squid ink?
It’s identical. It’s exactly the same grist, exactly the same hops – which are mash hops. It’s the same process – no boil, mash hops and 36-odd hours in the mash lauter tun and sparge straight into the fermenter.

What’s easier to work with – squid ink or rhubarb?
Definitely the rhubarb. Where squid ink became a pain was it doesn’t want to stay in solution – that’s why there was different colours of the beer depending on where the keg was in the kegging run from the bright tank. So you went from the first keg coming off the kegging run being a paint-brush water grey through to the ones at the end being a radioactive green. Which I wasn’t happy in the initial release but it took on a life of its own and by the end I was more happy with the radioactive green than the paint-brush water grey.

Were there any other options you rejected before hitting on rhubarb?
I just went straight to rhubarb. I’ve used rhubarb in a beer commercially before.

Any beer idea you’ve had that you thought was too weird to make?
Yeah, the squid ink Berliner weisse was that beer. Even once I’d done it and it was in the tank and drinking great but looking crazy scary, I thought maybe I’ve gone too far. Maybe this is the beer that’s going to be my demise but it turned out it had enough of a following and people had enough trust to put it to their lips and the rest is history.
The resounding feedback was ‘‘you’ve got to do it again! When’s Cephalopod coming back?’’ and the answer is probably never. I think that beer had a life of its own. I don’t think doing it again, it wouldn’t have the same appeal for people who have already had it before. You never say never but at this stage there are no plans to do it.

If you’re a brewer and are interested in appearing in Behind the Beer, just drop me a line here at Beer is Your Friend.

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