Originally created to rescue strawberries from being dumped when the needle crisis was in full swing, our Strawberry Sour is part of our Save The Harvest series, an ongoing crusade to save excess fruit from perishing while supporting Aussie farmers.
With COVID forcing our international borders to a close, the struggle for strawberry farmers and fruit growers across Australia has become realer than ever.
Labour shortages and border closures mean strawberries have been left to rot
If you're not one for news headlines, let us fill you in. With a non-existent foreign export market, farmers have found themselves with an excess of strawberries. Strawberries which they've been forced to sell domestically, equating to a drop in prices, have dropped considerably below the cost of production.
"With China's significant trade restrictions, a lot of fruit that was planted for the export market hasn't found a home to go to, meaning local industry prices have dropped considerably and a lot of fruit has gone to rot on the ground, which has resulted in a lot of time and resource going to waste," said Head Brewer at Beerfarm, Josh Thomas.
This season has also seen Australia’s biggest rural labour shortage to date, with 40,000 unfilled harvest positions as seasonal workers continue to leave the country. Without overseas workers to harvest the fruit, farmers have been forced to leave their produce to rot on vines, trees and in paddocks and plough their crops back into the ground.
"There is a lack of human resource to harvest and Strawberries are quite a complex fruit to harvest with a fair chunk of manual labour involved.
"The industry relies on a large proportion of international travellers to work for the industry during harvest periods and this lack of resource has also majorly added to the increased amount of waste," said Josh.
Save The Harvest, one strawberry at a time...
Our local agricultural industries are struggling in our current environment and even without a global pandemic, these problems still exist. With 5 million tonnes of agricultural food waste that end up in landfill each year in Australia alone, our Strawberry Sour is a testament to the #waronwaste and supporting Aussie farmers.
"Save the Harvest was initially created to help reduce agricultural food waste and that remains at the heart of the campaign to this day while supporting Aussie farmers.""At the time the first strawberry sour was produced back in 2018, there was a nationwide issue with contamination of needles, with some of our local strawberry growers. This caused a bunch of recalls all over the country, causing ridiculous amounts of strawberries destined to rot away.
"We reach out to any farmers that may have excess or ugly fruit prior to producing beers in an effort to show how wasted fruit is a common issue amongst a lot of agricultural industries across Australia," said Josh.
Brewing with unconventional or "ugly" looking fruit
This year's Strawberry Sour was brewed with over two tonnes of rescued strawberries that have an unconventional colour, shape, size and weight. These are all identified as "seconds" in the strawberry farming world, or "ugly fruit" by supermarket standards.
"Ugly fruit and agricultural waste has always been something in our society that people should recognise and be aware of. Any way we can reduce the amount of energy consumed to grow fresh produce and avoid the waste is why we want to make beers like our Strawberry Sour."
Despite all of this, ugly fruits are full of flavour and when it comes to brewing, the uglier the fruit...the better!
"Apart from reducing waste, ugly or even older fruit can be very beneficial to us in achieving the right balance when making fruited sours. Many varieties of fruit tend to have more flavour and sugar when they are slightly aged, they can also be easier to process; which at times can also result in a higher yield."
Here at Beerfarm, we're all about making improvements. This years brew is a cleaner, crisper version of the Strawberry Sour, with the same Berliner Weisse base and healthy dose of lime and mint as always.
"This year we had the strawberry juice lightly filtered. The beer still has the fresh strawberry character and colour but is more smashable and suitable for the warmer weather, with the lime and mint providing the refreshing aspects complimented by the balanced Berliner acidity."
Real fruit, real flavour, real beer
The flavours in our beers are as real as they come, with our brewers only ever using real fruit and adjuncts in the brew and never settling for concentrates, essences or flavourings.
"With all of our products we want to ensure they are authentic and include exactly what is said in the description. I prefer to draw back to our brewery and its values," said Josh.
Beerfarm is built from the ground up; with real people with real values, which is represented in all of our products.
"We want to ensure we are being as true as possible with the flavours we are aiming to achieve in our beers and adding juice or puree from 100% fruit. Adding fruit at different stages of the process allows us to do the adjunct justice while still producing a beer at heart," said Josh.
"If we were to take the easy street with an essence, we'd likely get something that tastes like it comes straight out of a lolly packet and lacks real authenticity"
You can your hands on our Strawberry Sour from Friday, January 15th at all good bottle shops. And if they don't stock us, tell them to Find your local Beerfarm stockist HERE and be sure to keep an eye out on our socials for more Strawberry Sour sweetness to come...