We’ve got a delectable duo of special new releases emerging from our Funk Dungeon small batch mixed fermentation project this week! Here’s our Funk Dungeon brewer and blender (and bottler, and labeller!) Jim to tell you all about them…
Olicana Dry Hopped Heritage Saison
First up is a 5.0% barrel aged, bretted saison, dry hopped with UK grown Olicana. The base beer for this release was brewed in late March 2022, and features a complex mix of malt. It was predominantly created using Plumage Archer heritage grain, one of our favourite base malts for mixed fermentation brewing because of its complex biscuit maltiness. Alongside this was plenty of rye malt for a pleasant spice, and a good helping of torrified wheat to add to the wort complexity, giving the brettanomyces (brett to its friends) and other microorganisms plenty of food during the aging process. Finally, a little touch of crystal rye, to add a residual sweetness and body that balances out the end product.
Late boil additions of Olicana in the kettle bittered the wort to around 60 IBUs. UK grown Opus hops (previously known as CF182) from the Charles Faram development programme were added on the brew day – 6.25g/l in the hop back, and we primary fermented with a non-Diastatic farmhouse yeast strain. Many saison strains contain a gene which is responsible for diastatic action (additional enzymatic action that breaks down malt sugars and can cause excessive fermentation) – we chose to use one where this gene has been removed, thus making it much safer for use in our brewery, as there is a lower chance of cross contamination of yeast that could wreak havoc with our clean beers!
After a good Olicana dry hop during fermentation, the beer was racked into barrel and pitched with our house brett blend which brings a gentle tartness to the party. After sitting in French oak for about a year, another dry hop of whole cone Olicana was added directly to the barrel for extra hop vibrancy, before packaging into bottle and keg. The hops give flavours of ripe stone fruits, alongside a deep herbal character and gentle bitterness, which balances beautifully with the oak presence found in the beer.
The artwork for this one, created by our designer James Murphy, depicts a funky Roman legionary! Olicana was the name for the Roman fort situated where the town of Ilkley now stands (the hop itself was actually named by Ilkley Brewery, who worked with Charles Faram on its development), so this was a clear source of inspiration for our skellie friend’s next adventure.
BA Tea Saison with Cider Lees
Release number 2 is a 5.4% barrel aged saison aged on cider lees, a real experiment created with the help of our friends at Duckchicken Cider.
We knew we wanted to work with James and Colleen of Duckchicken after they joined us at Funk Fest 2019 and blew us away with a tasting of their unique small batch ciders (please do look out for them, every single one we’ve tried has been absolutely delicious), and finally in 2022 we were able to make it happen.
A lightly fruited base beer was selected from our barrel stock. The brew itself for this one was a complex wort enriched with caramalt and wheat, to keep some body and sweetness in the flavour of the beer through extended aging. In the hot side of the brew, we used whole peaches for a rich pithiness and a little nuttiness from the character of the stone. Accompanied was a sencha green tea with hibiscus and dried peach for a soft tannic balance. But the real interest in this release comes from the secondary fermentation, spent aging on cider lees from Duckchicken.
Lees are the residue from the skins and wild yeast which are left behind after cider production. They contain a lot of complex microbes that aren’t present in our usual house yeasts. The lees were added straight to barrel and allowed to age for a number of months, giving a layer of interesting almost apple skin character to the beer and a beautiful distinctive freshness. Well rounded and with delicate tannins sitting in perfect balance with the light tartness of the finished beer.
The artwork shows, somewhat unsurprisingly, a duck and a chicken! We wanted to have a bit of a whimsical feel to this one, bringing the poultry into a scenario with our familiar skellie character (now there’s a phrase I don’t think anyone’s ever written before), and features a cheeky duck stealing away the apple!
There are just over 100 bottles of each, and they’re available now via our online shop (including as a pair in our snazzy new bottle gift boxes, if you’re looking for a Christmas present for a funk-loving friend!) and from independent retailers.