Power Out, Sour In

What do you do when the power goes out?

Okay, not that.  I mean YES, of course that, go for it.  But what do you when the power goes out after you’ve made sweet love with the one you love?  You tell stories, that’s what! So whaddaya say?  You wanna hear a story? It involves disaster, destruction, serendipity & salvation.

Okay great, here we go…

One day back in December (just before Christmas, in fact) Coastal British Columbia was hit with a big ol’ windstorm.  It wasn’t the biggest windstorm ever but it sure the hell held the most menace. Why? Because days before, biblical amounts of rain fell to the earth, saturating the soil and destabilizing the trees.  So when the wind picked up on that fateful day (December 20th, in fact) reaching speeds of over a hundred kilometers an hour, a crazy amount of timber toppled, taking down power lines left, right and centre.  More than 750,000 people were left in the dark and some folk went without power for ten days!  This perfect storm wound up causing the most damage in BC Hydro’s history. There are a thousand tales to be told of the storm and the toll it took, but this one’s about Riot Brewing.

Image NOT taken during December’s windstorm.

For those that don’t know, Riot Brewing was the product of a seven year odyssey undertaken by Aly Tomlin and Ralph Rosenke.  The origin story is a tale for another time but can be found in their interview with What’s Brewing Magazine. Ralph also laid it out for me back in September for an upcoming podcast episode.*  The short story is Riot took a roundabout route to becoming a brewery but once they did, they took the world by storm. Unfortunately, on that windy December day, the world took Riot by storm.

They were right in the middle of brewing when the power went out and the lights didn’t come back on until four days later.  Four days! Think about that from the perspective of a small business. It’s the Christmas Holidays, people are merry and people are celebrating and people are… not able to be merry & celebrate at your establishment because the electrons aren’t flowing and neither is the beer!  The financial hit of having to be closed during one of the busiest times of the year is… not something I care to contemplate, but you just know it’s a punch in the junk.  And what about the beer that was mid-brew?  Ruined? That’s the feeling in your junk, in your gut, in your soul, long after the punch has landed.  That’s the hit with the long-lasting hurt because your business is selling beer and the unfinished business in the tank now has to be tanked.  Or does it?

What if we could save this brew, thought the brewers.  Oh it won’t be what it was supposed to be, it can’t.  But what if we could make it something else?  What if, instead of a loss we could salvage the sauce?  Sounds crazy (I know) but miracles can happen and dammit Janet!  It was Christmas for Christ’s sake! So the brewers waited for the beer to hit the right temperature then added the power of sour (lactobacillus), made the sign of the cross and waited for a miracle.  As this is ostensibly a beer blog I’ll make an ASS out of U and ME and not get into the gory details of how this particular strain of Lacto bacteria can positively interact with wort to create sour beer.  Besides, I don’t really know myself. Suffice to say the Lacto started doing its thing and fruit was added to the funk for more flavour. Cut to two weeks later and the lump of coal Riot received for Christmas had fermented to become a passionfruit and plum sour, which they fittingly named Sour Outage.

So here’s my pitch: you’re gonna buy beer anyway, right?  Why not grab some Sour Outage? Craft beer is about good beer but it’s also about good people and, in Riot’s case, both are true.  So head down to your local bottle shop, pick up a bomber or two of this serendipitous sour and show your support for the little brewery that did from The Little Town That Did.

Sour Outage

Most of you are aware of the brutal wind storm the coast endured just before Christmas but, did you know Chemainus and the rest of the Cowichan Valley was deemed as one of the hardest hit communities. In insurance speak "it was catastrophic"! Not only did we have to close our doors for four of the busiest days of the year we were in the middle of a brew when we lost power!We did what we could, and wrote a poem to tell you all about it.

Posted by Riot Brewing Co. on Wednesday, January 9, 2019


*That upcoming podcast episode has been upcoming for ages – I’m very good at procrastinating and not so good at audio editing.  So it goes…

The Power of the Sour!

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