GABS Brewer 2018: Bright Brewery
What sort of beer are you making for GABS? A Black Saison with lavender.
What’s it called? Bam A Lam.
Where did the inspiration come from? Saisons have traditionally been a tough sell for us here in Bright until last year when Richard (Head Brewer), who loves the style, developed a fantastic 4.2 per cent abv strength saison with an addition of lime. It was very popular over summer, so we started thinking about other options for interesting saisons that would work during winter. A couple of our Bright Brewery crew were driving home from an event in Wagga and were pondering possible options for our next GABS Festival beer when Erica, who works in sales and marketing, was hit with inspiration to make a camomile saison. As saisons are traditionally a very pale beers, making are dark version of it would make it infinitely surprising for drinkers at the festival as well as working in winter.
When our brew team discussed the option, we considered what we could get locally to add to a black saison and showcase our hometown of Bright. Lavender quickly came to mind, with two local lavender farms (in Bright and Harrietville) on our doorstep. Then, we had to name this black lavender saison. A call for suggestions went out to all our Bright Brewery staff and the conversation went something like this: “Lavender = nanna… Betty, the beer is black à Black Betty… whoa Black Betty, bam ba lam!”. And “Bam Ba Lam” it was. (There’s been too many other beers already released with the name “Black Betty”.)
GABS is a fantastic way for us to both showcase our brewers’ skill to people around the country and to be really experimental with a beer at this time of year. We love to craft something new and usual, and to push to boundaries of flavours in beer so we can hopefully stand-out in a huge sea of incredible and crazy beers at the festival. However, we also want the beer to be very drinkable and repeatedly enjoyable while also being curiously interesting.
Like all our GABS beer in the past, brewing these beers can be a bit of a stab in the dark because it’s something we’ve never tried before or had the opportunity to brew test batches. So, the brewers use their knowledge and experience to develop an excellent base beer – a dark saison, in this case – and then throw in those interesting extras, such as the lavender, to see how it changes the taste profile. Hence, brewing a GABS beer is a constant process of tasting and adjusting the flavour profile throughout the four weeks that a beer takes to mature and condition in the tanks.
The beer was brewed on Wednesday and we used one kilogram of freshly handpicked lavender in the brew kettle. Our brewer handpicked the lavender at High Country Lavender in Bright the previous day and added it to the brew by dunking a mesh bag full of the lavender into the brewing stage known as the whirlpool – it’s like dunking a big bag of tea into the boiling brew. Using a newly developed yeast for this style of beer, plus a touch of local and French hops, we’re really excited to see how the lavender flavour develops in the beer between now and GABS and whether will need to add anything else to help complement or cut through the flavour.
Would you still drink craft beer if it was all alcohol-free?
Absolutely, if it tastes as good as beer with alcohol.
What’s the dumbest thing you’ve had someone say to you about beer?
The classic: “Which of your beers is good?”
The Great Australian Beer Spectapular is on in Melbourne on May 18-20 at the Royal Exhibition Building, Sydney on June 2 at the Sydney Showground and ASB Showgrounds in Auckland on June 30.
Categories: GABS Brewer 2018