When Life Hands Jellyfish Lemons, They Grill Them

What started as a tribute to a friend that passed has turned into a brand for Jellyfish Brewing that gets people to try it based off the name and enjoy over and over.

The Seattle brewery’s “Beer Salad” is a Saison made with basil, grilled lemons and cucumber and Head Brewer Justin Rizza said it does turn heads on first glance.

“Overall, we sell most of it through our taproom, but it does sell off premise a bit, and is a tremendously popular beer at festivals,” he said. “It’s a beer that gets people talking, then the buzz grows and you have a crowd at the booth to try this ‘Beer Salad.’” 

Beer Salad was born in Texas while Rizza was Head Brewer at Flix Brewhouse.

“I created a tribute beer to my boss/friend Walt Powell, who suddenly passed away at a very early age,” Rizza explained. “I called it Saison de Walt. On the year anniversary of his passing, I created a Signature Series of Saison de Walt with different adjuncts.” 

One of those had basil, lemon, peppercorn and cucumber. 

“Upon tasting it, I immediately thought ‘It’s like a Beer Salad,’ and began describing it that way to patrons.”

A few years later, after moving back to Seattle to help start up Jellyfish Brewing, Rizza told Brewer he wanted to bring this tribute beer along, creating Saison Memoir. From there, Beer Salad followed. 

The base wort is fermented with a French Saison yeast in stainless steel tanks, with a portion diverted to wine barrels to age with a blend of Brettanomyces yeasts strains which, eventually Rizza says, gets blended back into to the bulk batch each time it is made.

That gives it a lovey, funky, “farmhouse” character, he noted. 

“The infusion for Beer Salad is done in a stainless steel tank at the rate of about two cucumbers and eight lemons per barrel while the basil, he said, is “kinda eyeballed.”

Cucumbers are washed, rough chopped, and mashed a bit, while the basil is torn. Lemons get halved with half of them get caramelized on a grill before being chopped. 

“I just thought it would be fun and add to the complexity of the final beer,” Rizza said. 

Debuting in 2017 for Jellyfish in bottles, the brewery now cans the product for both to-go and retail off-prem sales. 

“We switched to cans because it’s so much easier that hand bottling a ton of bottles in a cold room for days,” Rizza said. “There is no bottle/can conditioning with that one.”

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