212: Primitive Beer’s Lisa and Brandon Boldt Apply Science to the Romance of Spontaneous Fermentation

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Launching any brewery is difficult, but launching one that only makes spontaneously fermented beer means total committment to a process that takes years from brew day to beer release. Still, Lisa and Brandon Boldt of Primitive Beer in Longmont, Colorado, inspired by Belgian lambic brewers and blenders, made the conscious choice to focus exclusively on spontaneously fermented beer. Why not add something else to the repertoire? Because they’re afraid they might be successful at it, and that success would distract them from that core focus.

That patience and commitment have paid off. The brewery is in the process of moving from part-time project to full-time livelihood for Brandon, as maturing barrels finally reach the point where sales volume might justify a full-time employee. In 2019, a Great American Beer Festival silver medal for Experimental Beer was a powerful suggestion that they were on to something interesting—despite the high and dry Colorado conditions that aren’t especially favorable to spontaneous fermentation. That challenging environment has led them to tinkering and lessons learned that should expand the time-worn canon of spontaneous brewing technique. They’re not bucking tradition; they’re using additional tools to set up their fermentations with the best chance of success.

In this episode of the podcast, they discuss:

  • giving the business a runway and time for the beer to mature before it can be sold at scale
  • adjusting brew volumes to offset changing evaporation and volume loss in the coolship
  • the significant impact of hopping rate on fermentation development
  • their ambient culture’s growing strength and tolerance for higher hopping rates
  • the arc of fermentation, as bacteria and yeast work in different phases
  • customizing brewhouse vessels to facilitate turbid mashes and fast transfers
  • the impact of knockout temperature on the flavors of spontaneously fermented beers
  • barrel selection in the dry environment
  • blending methodology, and the use and selection of fruit

And more.

*This episode is brought to you by: *

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