This year's vintage turned out to be a real cracker for all Margaret River region grape varietals, with lush growing conditions and even more abundant harvests.
With so many grapes to choose from, we once again put our heads together with Dylan Arvidson from LS Merchants and decided to mix things up for our seasonal Shirazzaweiss. The resulting brew was a wild hybrid ale, brewed with premium Margaret River Sav Blanc grapes and Shiraz grapes from LS Merchants.
With our biggest grape addition for this beer yet, we're pretty damn excited about this release. We sat down with Dylan along with our Brewhouse gun Charlotte to suss out the finer details on this years grape sour and what on earth a Shiraz-Sav wild hybrid ale is...
We love to experiment, so it's no wonder we joined forces with LS Merchants for Shirazzaweiss and this year, Shiravignon. How was your relationship with Beerfarm first born?
Dylan: It was a few loose nights when Beerfarm were the new kids on the block, back in the very early days. The whole vibe was different and I loved that they wanted to experiment and push the boundaries.
Tell us about the collaboration between LS merchants and Beerfarm. How has this bond/ partnership grown or evolved over the years, and where do you see it heading in the future?
Dylan: It's a great little collab and I have watched the brew team evolve year on year, pushing it in a slightly more wild and fun direction each release. With the 2022 vintage, I am quite excited to see the team really put a pretty wild spin on things. I think going forward it may get more wild and more experimental which I am excited about.
Charlotte: This year we wanted to do something a little different and explore how we could bring some interesting wine making techniques into our Shirazza brew. Instead of approaching the brew like making a sour beer we wanted to let the juice ferment more like wine, for a clean acidity and to really bring out the bright fruity flavours we had last year.
We went for just under half of the total sugars from the grapes and the rest from the grain and blended in about 30% Sauvignon Blanc for a little fun.
What are some of your favourite natural wines and how did they influence this year's brew?
Charlotte: Flamboyant and fruity chilled low-fi reds really influenced this year's brew, and the many zingy and bright pet-nats we consumed this summer!
Dylan: I think the influence for this beer comes more from the wild/sour beer industry and the play on flavours there. Pushing the safe ferments with wild yeast and open ferments.
Can you tell us a bit about what a hybrid brew is, or how Shiravignon is different from previous years of Shirazzaweiss?
Charlotte: Hybrid beers take a less conventional approach to brewing and can really be anything, saké beers, braggots, and beer wine hybrids like this one. As a hybrid it explores the territory between wine and beer by using non conventional brewing methods and ingredients.
Dylan: We have added 1/3 Sauvignon blanc this year, adding some tropical aromatics and acidity with the shiraz providing the berry backbone. I think this will show through the beer a bit better and showcase the grape. We have also gone away from the Weiss style with more of a naturally sour, hybrid brew.
Tell us a bit about wild fermentation process, how does this natural process work?
Charlotte: This year we allowed the grapes to ferment naturally in a process similar to carbonic maceration. Whole grapes ferment from the inside out naturally. We allowed this natural wild fermentation process to happen for a few days before crushing and think it really contributed to the beers juicy character and light tannins and acidity.
What kind of flavours were created from the Shiraz-Sav Blanc grape combination?
Charlotte: Berries for days with the Shiraz and a hint of tropical coming through from the Sauvignon Blanc. Light acidity and tannin with a vinous body.
You guys are really upping the anti with each annual rendition; what can we expect to see for next year?
Dylan: More wild characters, some wild ferment and maybe earlier picked fruit to lift the acidity.
Charlotte: Good question! Maybe something totally different, keen for a change!
If climate change exhausted all supplies, what beer or wine would you stash for your own selfish pleasure, and why?
Charlotte: Momento Mori - Staring at the Sun is my all time favourite wine, and I would definitely have a stash of Augustiner Helles. Perfection!
Get your hands on Shiravignon at the farm and your local watering hole from April 19th and at good bottle shops around WA from April 26th. Give us a follow on Instagram to find out when it'll be landing on the East Coast!