Quick Sips: Jovaru Raw Ale w/ Sorachi Ace
This is the first in what will be a series of shorter posts about beers I think fewer people will be interested in, but that I personally think are still pretty cool. Basically, it just means I’ll skip the “How’d it go?” and “Would I brew it again?” sections and take fewer photos.
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I really appreciate the work of Lars Marius Garshol, the Norwegian beer researcher and historian who has done a ton to bring kveik into mainstream beer culture. One of his most fascinating posts concerns Jovaru Alus, a farmhouse brewery in Lithuania that makes a very particular style of raw ale—meaning it’s not boiled after mashing.
I’d never made a raw ale (aside from my Lazy Haze experiment with DME), so I thought it might be a fun thing to try. (Plus, my mother’s side of the family comes from Lithuania.) I took inspiration from Jovaru Alus, but didn’t attempt to replicate all of the processes Aldona Udriene uses. You could say I took a short(er) and shoddy approach.
- Method: BIAB, no sparge, squeezed, no boil
- Batch size: 3.5 gallons
- Mash: 120 minutes @ 162F
- Boil: Nope
- OG: 1.057
- FG: 1.014
- ABV: 5.8%
- IBU: 33
- 6 lbs Mecca Grade Pelton
- 1 lbs Mecca Grade Metolius
- 0.25 lbs Mecca Grade Opal 44
- 22g Sorachi Ace [13% AA] @ Mash 120 minutes
- 30g Sorachi Ace @ Whirlpool 20 minutes
- Yeast: Jovaru (original mixed culture from KveikSupply.com via Etsy); half of a 750mL starter, pitched at 90F and allowed to free-ride in my garage
- Water: 4 gallons machine RO + 3.5g CaCl2 and 2g gypsum
How’s it taste?
When I first kegged it, I was pretty sure I was going to hate this beer. The Sorachi Ace expressed itself as 100% pure dill, and combined with the doughy, slightly caramel-inflected sweet malt flavor it was a weird and not entirely pleasant combo.
However, as it’s keg-conditioned, the flavor has evolved. The dill has faded away and become a funky, light citrus with only slight hints of dill—more what I recall from drinking Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace saison. (It’s an awesome beer, try it!) The malt, which felt grainy and unrefined at first blush, is now more like soft, semi-sweet cookie dough. As for the yeast, it seems to have contributed a light fruitiness that should go well with most farmhouse and wheat beers.
I think the proteins remaining in the finished beer have started to drop out a bit with extended cold storage, reducing the sickly sweet, heavy mouthfeel. Combined with the evolution of the hop profile, it’s working wonders.
Overall, the whole thing is just gelling better and better over time. I’m excited to see where it goes, despite warnings that raw ales drop off quicker than boiled ones.