There are some beers that spend months in development: weeks spent fine-tuning the recipe, multiple iterations of R.A.D.s, listening intently to feedback, then going back and revamping the recipe to begin the process all over again.
Then, there are some beers that our fans say, “Hey, mix these two together because I think that would be tasty.”
Luckily… our fans have good taste.
So, to celebrate our eighth anniversary, we’re canning it up and bringing it to you!
Back in May of 2014, we first released Tower 23 — a beer that pre-dates our blog — so we don’t really have one on it. Brian had been pestering Hank to do some sours, and he finally relented.
“I fucking love (and miss!) Tower 23!” says Innovation Director Brian Hink.
Named for one of the WWII towers that dot the Bay from North Wildwood to Bethany Beach, DE, it was a very traditional, 3.5% ABV, Berliner Weisse.
“It was super tart and an absolutely refreshing easy sipper,” he recalls. “No hop presence, the pilsner and wheat malts stay out of the way. It’s just really light and tart, almost like a glass of carbonated lemonade.”
Needless to say, it was a huge hit. Apparently, at some point, we had Tower 23 on in the Tasting Room while The Bog was pouring, and some innovative denizen said, “Hey. Let’s mix these two.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
“It really was a perfect pairing,” Brian says.
So perfect that we’ve decided to release an entire batch of The Shower. Instead of brewing a batch of Tower 23 and brewing a batch of The Bog and simply mixing the two, we combined the recipes into one big amalgam of the two.
“We kettle-soured the wort, fermented as normal, crashed and shandyized right before transferring for packaging,” Brian explains. “It truly was a hybrid of the two beers.”
And both of these beers were originally designed in such a way that the “beer” — the malt and the hops — takes a back seat to the sour and the fruit flavors. With pilsner and wheat in the malt and that old workhorse, Bravo, in the hops, everything about this recipe is built to stay out of the way.
“We wanted it sour up front before giving way to the slightly sweet backend thanks to the shandyizing,” Brian explains. “Any malt complexity or hop character would’ve simply distracted you from the fruit and sour notes.”
Lacto can be dangerous in a brewery as it can completely spoil a beer, but, as The Shower is kettle-soured, we’ve got things under control.
“We allow the bacteria to sour the wort, but then we proceed as we normally would for a brew,” explains Lab Manager Lauren Appleman.
The lacto goes in there and does its lacto thing: it gorges itself on sugars in the wort and produces lactic acid and a bit of alcohol.
“Once the wort is acidified the brewers will go through their boil, and that will kill off the potentially beer-spoiling bacteria,” she continues. “I feel like our more recent kettle sours have been following a similar timeline, and that has been great as far as being able to stick to our schedules.”
There are a number of reasons that these two beers always worked well together, but the fact that their sourness complements each other makes The Shower a match made in heaven. Behind all its sugary sweetness, the cranberry juice in The Bog makes it relatively sour.
“The Shower is kettle soured, so it has a natural, clean, complex sourness to begin with,” Brian explains, “but the lemon and cranberry from The Bog definitely add a top-note to the sour profile. We toned down The Bog’s sweetness by cutting in half the amount of sugar added to The Shower to mimic blending the two together. That really pushed the sour notes to the forefront.”
Mixing these two isn’t exactly groundbreaking: Berliner Weisses were originally served with Woodruff syrup — a sweetened syrup made from safflower and lemon juice — to cut their sourness.
“The Woodruff syrup adds a fruity note and balances everything out,” Brian says, “so this is basically as if we just added the Woodruff syrup right to the can prior to packaging.”
These two beers blend perfectly, with their sweet and sour joining in perfect harmony, too delicious to pass up.
“It really came together very nicely and is going to be perfect on a sweltering sticky grossly humid day that is about to hit our area,” Brian said.
And Lauren, true to form, thinks The Shower is the perfect shower beer.
“With a name like The Shower, I feel like it is begging to be consumed in the shower,” she says. At this point, it probably sounds like I drink in the shower all the time, but I swear I don’t!”
Yeah, yeah…. Likely story….
“We just happen to be making a bunch of beers that are good in the shower!” she protests. “I can also see this as being a great beer to take down to the pool.”
However you intend to enjoy The Shower, it will be available on draft in limited quantities in 16-ounce cans at our Anniversary Party this weekend. Don’t miss it!