Blending drinks is a common activity among booze producers, but it’s usually associated with whiskies, rums, ciders or wines and rarely beer. Yet beer blending has a proud history and is still widely practised today, albeit less in the beery circles most of us Brits hover around.
‘Belgian sours’ is the category in which you’re most likely to encounter a blend. Geuzes, for example, are finely crafted by mixing young and old lambic beers before allowing them to ferment together for a second time.
Elsewhere in the cannon of Belgian brewing brilliance, Petrus are old hands at dabbling with sour beer blending. But rather than protectively conceal their recipes in sealed vaults they’ve let the world in on some of their beer secrets and are even encouraging amateurs to use their booze for their own blending pursuits.
Their ‘Sour Power’ packs contain all the beer you need for mixing mayhem, including the much worshiped ‘mother beer’, Petris Aged Pale – a super-sour that has been aged in vast oak ‘foeders’ and is used as a base for the brewery’s best blends.
Pack purchasers will also find a few pre-blended treats inside: ‘Aged Red’, a mix of 15% foeder beers, 85% double brown beer and cherries; ‘50-50’, an even mix of Aged Pale and Aged Red; and ‘Oud Brun’, 33% foeder beer with 67% young brown ale.
Before blending it’s worth trying a few bottles of Petrus on their own, and this week I’ve been tucking in to the Oud Brun. You can tell it has some sour beer in it by the punchy smell that send ripples through the nostrils, although the sourness is quite restrained on the palette. It has a sharp, piercing fizz to it and malty notes of dried fruit and molasses with a more unfamiliar perfumed flavour which, on this tasting, I’m going to suggest are appley (next time I’ll probably change my mind). It’s quite a dry beer and has fairly prominent peppery hops at the finish. And all the while that sourness steadily increases and fades on a sense-tickling loop.
Having enjoyed one bottle of this in its ready-blended state, I’m now ready to sink another into some different booze. I’ve got some Aged Red lined up for a Petrus-only blend, then onto the experiments. Oude Brun with some home brewed nettle beer? Oude Brun and vanilla stout? Or maybe even Oude Brun and a sparkling Somerset cider…
Brewery: Petrus, Bavikhove, West Flanders, Belgium
Beer name: Oud Brun
You can get your Petrus fix at ace beer retailer Ales By Mail. Go on, get blending.
Many thanks to Flick who, on behalf of Petrus, answered my request for more information and delivered it with a few bottles for good measure.