What do you do with ten bottles of homebrew that you aren’t keen on? A beer that isn’t bad, but isn’t great either. Cook with it? Give it away? Stash it in a cupboard and drink it slowly over time? Maybe. I thought I’d try something a bit different.
Early spring means rhubarb; the most eager of the harvest, tart and acidic, yet to be tempered by the full warmth of the sun. It’s a classic, English ingredient that most of us are guilty of overlooking; something about it just feels old fashioned and, even if we did buy it, what would we do with it?
There’s a wildness about the acidic flavour of rhubarb that reminds me of lambic beer. Sure, we might cultivate it and force it to grow all year round, but it’s one of those foods that always feels slightly out of control. With its super-resilient rhizomes and poisonous leaves, it’s like a favourite son that Mother Nature keeps a bit more snugly under her wing. And lambic is a similar affair, the brewer kids himself that he’s the boss, but spontaneous fermentation does what it wants, when it wants. No amount of seasonal brewing or blending batches will give him ultimate control.
So why not bring these two things together? The sharp sourness of a lambic beer, bolstered by the acidic, fruity tang of fresh rhubarb. Makes sense to me.
Being careful to avoid as much oxygenation as possible, I siphoned the beer a bottle at a time back into a demijohn. In went two sticks of rhubarb that I roughly cut into inch long pieces, followed by the sediment and dregs from a bottle of 2005 Boon Mariage Parfait Gueuze.
Airlock on. See you in 4 months.
Yep, I do realise that the dregs from a single bottle is probably nowhere near enough. And yes, six year old yeast sediment is probably not the best way to go. The presence of all the oxygen I knocked into solution will probably result in a load of harsh acetic acid and the base beer had way too many IBU’s for any lactic bacteria to stand a chance. All very good points. But you gotta give these things a go though, right? What’s the point in being a homebrewer if you can’t mess around from time to time!?