Guava Tangent (Sour Ale)
And now for something completely different…
Tart and dry with pronounced tropical fruit and hints of vanilla, Guava Tangent crosses interstellar curves of funk to embark on a gravitational slingshot bound for sour nebulas.
Months Aged: 12
Cultures: Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, House Lactobacillus
Guava isn’t exactly a household staple. For the uninitiated, what flavors does Guava bring to the table, and how does that profile meld with this beer?
Guava is really unique, offering a bouquet of tropical and floral aromas. Fresh guava has notes of pineapple, papaya, banana and lemon, along with hints of jasmine and freshly cut grass. It’s fairly sweet, but also fairly acidic, with each balancing the other nicely. In this beer, most of that sugar is consumed during fermentation, leaving behind complex acidity and the fresh flavors I listed above. I think tropical fruits work especially well in sour beer because they tend to have just a touch of sulfur in the aroma, which hangs around even after aging and makes the fruit smell bright and fresh.
What role does the mixed culture fermentation play in the final product?
The wild yeast and sour culture that fermented this beer are as important to the final product as the guava itself. The wild yeast strain we used, Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, creates interesting things during fermentation. It often creates tropical fruit esters (compounds that impart flavor and aroma), most notably pineapple. It also adds some of the “funky” aromas that wild and sour beer connoisseurs cherish. That “funk” blends nicely with that hint of sulfur I mentioned earlier, enhancing the freshly ripened fruit aspect that really shines in this beer. Yeast also converts a compound found in oak into the main component of vanilla, adding just the slightest hint of sweet vanilla to the aroma. The Lactobacillus creates lactic acid, which combines with the citric acid from the guava to give a rounded, complex acidity that is both refreshing and enticing.
Guava Tangent debuted on draft last year, picking up a silver medal at the US Open Beer Championship. What do you think made this recipe stand out?
Guava itself is such a unique and versatile fruit, and our barrel masters paired it with the perfect recipe to showcase it’s best qualities. I imagine that fresh fruit character I keep coming back to also had a hand in catching the judges’ attention, since it’s the first thing that jumps from the glass. The acidity is complex, but also approachable, which I appreciate in a sour that is meant to be light and refreshing.
Do you have any favorite brews that merge guava (or any tropical fruit) with mixed culture fermentation?
Fire Iron from Urban Artifact has an absurd amount of fruit added to it, including pink guava, and is really good. Upland makes some great sours, including one called Revive, which is brewed with pineapple and chamomile.
Appearance: Bright gold with some haze and thin white foam.
Aroma: Fresh, ripe guava, plus notes of pineapple, papaya, and hints of vanilla.
Taste: Dry with medium acidity, and tons of fresh fruit flavor.
Mouthfeel: Fairly thin, with a touch of added body from the guava addition.
Overall: Fresh, bright guava hits the nose and palate first, enhanced by medium acidity and a dry finish in this bright gold sour ale.
What foods would pair well with Guava Tangent?
This beer would be great with a light seafood dish, or even fish tacos. I think sours go great with soft cheese, as the acidity washes away the fatty cream and cleans the palate. This would go great with a soft goat cheese, or soft blue.
Ideal glassware for Guava Tangent?