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Sometimes brewers just screw up: they add the wrong ingredient or there’s a mechanical failure in the brewing system. But that doesn’t mean the batch of beer needs to be dumped. In fact, sometimes mistakes taste pretty good. In those cases, brewers will rebrand the beer as something else and sell it. Here are a few happy accidents worth a sip.
DC Brau’s Citrosity This newly released Belgian-style pale ale was supposed to be a batch of the DC Brau’s signature, the Citizen, but a valve broke that stopped glycol from getting into and chilling the tank. As a result the temperature climbed above the level that Citizen is supposed to ferment. “When we tasted the beer, it was delicious, but it wasn’t Citizen,” DC Brau co-owner Brandon Skall says. “So we dry hopped it with some pretty cool rare hops and named it something else.”
Citrosity is just DC Brau’s latest accidental beer. Theory and Practice, a Belgian-style IPA, was meant to be the Corruption IPA, but the brewers accidentally added a yeast strain called 1762. They ended up finding a book called The Theory and Practice of Brewing, which was published in 1762, and named the beer after that. Meanwhile, Deus Ex Machina, a double IPA, started out as On the Wings of Armageddon, but the brewer mistakenly added Columbus hops, which are used in DC Brau’s Corruption IPA.
Port City Brewing Company’s Derecho Common In the summer of 2012, a powerful derecho caused Port City to lose power, and the Alexandria brewery feared it would lose 13,000 gallons. While five of the six tanks were fine, a batch of lager ended up fermenting at a higher temperature than it was meant to. Instead of letting it go to waste, founder Bill Butcher took inspiration from a “steam beer” style of beer developed in San Francisco, also known as California common, that is supposed to be brewed at a higher temperature and rebranded the product as Derecho Common. The beer was popular enough that the brewery is now making it on purpose (with some tweaks). Derecho Common was released again this summer just in time for the third anniversary of the storm.
Bluejacket’s Swirl Last year, Bluejacket collaborated with New Belgium Brewing Company and Brooklyn Brewery on a sour red ale called Rheinard De Vos. It was brewed with a strain of Brettanomyces yeast that Bluejacket grows in-house. But when they went to rebrew the beer, the yeast didn’t produce the funky, wild characteristics that it did the first time. It turned out that mistakes in the mash temperature and wort aeration prior to fermentation caused the ingredient to act more like a standard clean yeast. “We figured it’s still a great base sour beer, it just needs something else,” says Beer Director Greg Engert. So, the brewers added in some fresh strawberries and ended up with with a sour strawberry reddish-brown beer dubbed Swirl. Some of the beer was then aged in Syrah wine barrels and infused with even more strawberries. That beer will be available at a D.C. tap takeover at ChurchKey on Aug. 13 during D.C. Beer Week. It will be poured right alongside a new version of Rheinard De Vos.
Click here for more from our 2015 Beer Issue.