How ‘​Quick Souring’ Helped Bozeman Ramp Up Production​

​It was a road traveled for 10 years for Bozeman Brewing, but the Montana brewery recently has perfected its techniques and production capabilities in the brewhouse to offer its consumers a steady diet of Sours.

In March, the brewery began bottling Sours — both barrel-aged and what GM Tucker Kalberg described as ‘quick sour’ creations.

“The difference for us in producing a quick sour (Säuerlich Berliner Weisse, Andsoit Gose and Hopsour Dry-Hopped American Sour) is the lacto never touches every-day production equipment,” he told Brewer.

It’s different than kettle souring because where others may acidify in the kettle and then kill off the Lacto in the boil, the brew team at Bozeman creates the wort then acidifies it with Lacto in a Grundy. From there, they pitch traditional brewers yeast to ferment in separate process equipment dedicated for the sour program.

“We much prefer the added depth of a live beer, whether it’s a quick sour or barrel-aged beer,” Kalberg said. “Not to mention all the while trying to mitigate any cross-contamination.”

Packaging had long been a desire of the brewery’s sour program — as it only poured draft up until this year.

“It inevitably took a ton of time for things to align for us to make our first release,” Kalberg said. He noted that investing and growing the program: buying equipment and then months of bottle conditioning — which included setting protocols and testing to get the right priming sugar and bottle conditioning yeast achieved — all led to slowing the process down to get shelf-ready products.

The microbiology section of Bozeman’s QA/QC program allows it to have more information and confidence while souring and barreling.

“Our micro program has allowed us to bottle condition with a lot more control, ultimately leading to a more shelf-stable product,” Kalberg said. “Shelf stability is key in guaranteeing consistency over the years.”

At this time all of ​the brewery’s quick sours and barrel​-​aged beers are available in 375ml champagne​,​ cork and cage bottles.​

​”​We are now consciously curating anything from Vieux Bois Lambic Inspired ​with ​fruit​; ​Metamorphic Flanders Red​;​ Vieux Bois Gueuze Inspired blends​;​ and lately Variation Barrel Aged Wild Gose, just to name a few​,” Kalberg said​.​ “​We let our imagination fly when it comes to choosing styles and fruit additions.​”

​Kalberg said the smaller glass format was chosen to​ provide a solid price point for an individual to buy one or two and not feel that they need to save a large format bottle for a special occasion.

​Although the sour market is growing — Bozeman stated in a press release that in 2015, sour draft beers accounted for just 3% of the brewery’s sales, while last year it represented 10% of all pints sold — it’s still mostly a ‘labor of love.’

​”​But it’s also a business​,” Kalberg added.​ “​Everything we make has to have a margin of profitability​.​ But we’re huge believers in the art and craft of sour beer and the emerging market that needs to be satisfied.

​”​There’s no doubt this helps set us apart in one of the most crowded marketplaces the craft beer industry has ever seen, so I’d be lying if there wasn’t some aspect of that to this equation.​”

Bozeman now ​is ​the largest sour beer producer in the state of Montana with a barrel cellar that houses over 250 barrels, ​four​ ​Grundy​s​ and a packaging line​.​

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