Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Water Witch, Beersel & The Turbid Mash

2010 seems to be getting off on the right foot here at Odonata Beer Company. First, last week we released our first-ever draft beer, Water Witch, in Roseville, CA. The crowd seemed more than happy with the beer in hand - a rich, dark brown brew with red highlights. The beer recipe itself is for a Belgian Dark Strong Ale that produced a 9.5% ABV elixir. What deviates slightly from the 'official' style guidelines is the maturation in red wine barrels, which lends a slightly acidic note to the finish. This is a pilot batch for us and we hope with a few modifications (we're toying with the idea of using other types of barrels) you will see this in bottles by the year's end. We'll keep you updated.

Our second draft-only beer will be released this week in Sacramento, and is our first collaborative beer - made with the help of the Homebrew Chef, Sean Paxton! This is called Beersel, a name that pays homage to the place our yeast culture originated - in the bowels of the famed 3 Fonteinen brewery! This is a true Sour Ale, but not technically a Lambic (which is a spontaneously fermented beer) or Gueuze (lambics, blended). The grist and hopping is pretty much what the Senne Valley brewers use to make their lambics, however, with raw wheat, pale malted barley and whole flower hops aged 10 years. Additionally, our Brewmaster Peter Hoey, implemented a-labor intensive mash schedule, known as "turbid mashing" to create some pretty amazing results.

What is turbid mashing, you ask? Well, here it is in a nutshell. According to Mr. Hoey:

Turbid Mashing is a process that extracts long starch chains from the barley and wheat. Basically, you mash in at 120 degrees and run off into the kettle right away. Then you dump boiling water into the mash tun to raise the temperature up to 132 degrees. Run off again. Then dump boiling water in to raise the temperature to 148 degrees. Run off. Then add water again to raise the mash temp to 158 degrees and sparge the rest like normal.

The results? With longer starch chains they yeast is assured some food for a longer period of time, they really have to work to feed on these. This is a big deal for a beer like this, which has aged for 20 months!

As alluded to previously, the beer is fermented with a brettanomyces culture from 3 Fonteinen as well as a dose of lacto bacillus. These critters make for a sharp, acidic beer that is fairly light in body and shows hints of leather, intense fruitiness and an overall pungent aroma. If you're unaccustomed to sour ales, this one will certainly shock you. Rest assured though, the beer is supposed to taste like this!

If you're in Sacramento, we hope you can find these rare beers. If you do, we'd love to hear what you think about them - drop us an email at sales [at] odonatabeer [dot] com. This will help us as we make our final tweaks before making production size batches - what can we say, we aim to please!


  1. Congratulations on all the advances your fledgeling company is experiencing. Is Beersel similar to the one Sac Brew poured at the homebrew conference last year?

  2. Please let us know where and when your brews are available for purchase, either on tap or in bottles.


  3. Yet another reason I wish I lived further North than I do. I've tasted your past sour beers and they were some of the best I've ever had. It's easy to over do it, and your restraint is commendable.

    Never tasted Sean's beer (or his food) but I sense he's got a knack for making that just as delicious. I hope I get a chance to taste this some time.

    Hope you guys are on the road to big things in 2010. We're pulling for you down here in SoCal.

  4. I just had your Rosa beer at Rubicon. I thought it was fantastic - i love the sour beer and was really stoked to hear of a local brewer having a crack at it.

    Question: is Rosa related to this Beersel you mention in the post, or is there another sour beer on the way?

    Thanks in advance, and good job with Rosa!

  5. Please let post when your beer will be available for consumer keg purchase (5 gal).

  6. any chance for an out-of-state odophile to order one of your work shirts and/or brews?

  7. We have the Water Witch on tap at Extreme Pizza, 1140 Exposition Blvd. Sacto,.

    Fred Munday
    Extreme Pizza