Cuvée Nora & Cuvée Lisa
Inspired by nature, the new Oriel beers surprise with different tastes. We call them beers, some of you made the resemblance with natural wines. What do they have in common? Yeasts and bacteria from nature.
But let’s start with the story of these two beers, because we are not just talking about a new Oriel range, but about two completely different beers.
Life before the pandemic seemed to be so far away, but look, it’s almost over and we’re back to normal.
In 2019 we went to Arrogant Sour Festival, in Italy. I tasted so many sour beers, but surprisingly, I still wanted to try more, there is such a great diversity and although most were extremely sour, their tastes were sublime. There was already another level of craft beer that we wanted to reach. So we decided to try brewing a sour beer. At the beginning of 2020, we bought a 500 litres oak barrel from a Romanian manufacturer. We didn’t want anything sophisticated, just a wooden barrel, in which we could ferment a beer with bacteria and wild yeast. Although we would have liked to try open fermentations with yeasts from nature, the area where we have the brewery is under construction and we cannot do that, so we reached our yeast supplier and we found a blend of bacteria and yeast that replicates the spontaneous fermentation of Belgian beers.
All good and beautiful, the barrel was delivered, we watered it, it swelled, there are certain procedures to follow when filling a barrel the first time, we brewed the beer, added yeast, a blend of two lactic acid bacteria (lactobacillus and pediococcus), yeast saccharomyces and brettanomyces and we waited for it to ferment. The first part of the fermentation went normally, the resulting carbon dioxide was removed through the valve, but after a while, the fermentation began to become more and more aggressive. Most likely, the barrel staves began to expand, so leaks appeared. Sometimes when moments like this occur, the only thing you can do is think quickly about a solution. The most rational solution was to transfer the beer from the wooden barrel to a stainless steel tank, but all our tanks were full of other beers.
The only tank available was the bottling tank. You know that we do the re-fermentation in the bottle, which means that at bottling, we transfer the beer from the maturation tank to the bottling tank and add a sugar syrup that will be consumed by the active yeast in the bottle and will result in CO2. The beers from the other tanks needed to be bottled soon, but we couldn’t wait for the 500 liters of beer to drain from the wooden barrel. So we made the decision to sacrifice the bottling tank, to turn it into a maturation tank for our first sour beer.
The tank has a capacity of 625 liters, we still had about 400 liters, or so left, we couldn’t leave so little beer in the tank, so we had to brew another half of batch to fill the tank. We added another packet of yeast blend and forgot about beer for a year.
You realize that we had to quickly order another tank for bottling from Spiedel, we were very lucky that they gave us one from stock and the tank with Nora was sacrificed forever for mixed fermentation beers.
After a year of maturation, we decided to bottle the beer in the tank and the Cuvée Nora resulted. Why Nora? Tribute to Laurentiu’s kitten, a cat rescued from the street, a wild cat with a strong personality.
Cuvée Nora is a beer brewed with patience and diligence in the style of a wild specialty beer, Cuvée Nora is made of the finest ingredients from pilsner, rye, spelt and other malt specialities, barley and oat flakes, hops and fermented in an oak barrel with a Belgian sour mix of bacterias (lactobaccilus & pediococcus) and a unique blend of Brettanomyces and Saccharomyces yeasts. A pure harmony in a sunny beer with a balmy aroma. Sour notes of lactic bacterias, funky tones of Brett are seasoned up with floral notes, fruit compote and malt sweetness, all ending in a complex, oak note. Aged for 12 months, this beer has a light, acidic, floral, fruity and earthy character and can be stored for years.
With Cuvée Lisa the story was simpler and fortunately, we had no adventures. The basic recipe started from the recipe for quadrupel, base malt and specialty roasted malts, and in order not to encounter problems with aggressive fermentation in barrels, in the first part, we fermented the beer only with saccharomyces yeast in the tank. After the primary fermentation, we added the blend of bacteria and wild yeast in two oak barrels, of 220 liters and we left the beer to age for ten months. Towards the end of the maturation period in the barrels, we tasted and we thought that another addition would work. So we added sour cherry syrup. About a year and a half later, Lisa was ready. Why Lisa? Tribute to my puppy, German Shepherd, a dog that was present in my life for many years.
Cuvée Nora is a beer brewed with patience and diligence in the style of a wild specialty beer, Cuvée Lisa is made of the finest ingredients from pilsner base malt and other roasted malt specialities, barley and oat flakes, hops, dark candi sugar and fermented with a Belgian sour mix of bacterias (lactobaccilus & pediococcus) and a unique blend of Brettanomyces and Saccharomyces yeasts. A pure harmony between the mellow sweetness of the malts, the sour notes of the lactic bacterias, oak vanilla and the funky tones of Brettanomyces. All seasoned up with sour cherries on top added in the barrel. Oak barrel aged for 10 months, this beer has a strong, acidic, fruity, herbal, leathery and earthy character and can be stored for years.
The new Oriel range also comes with new clothes, a new bottle, green, 375 ml, specific to sour, Belgian beers, new label design and white wax.
The two labels reproduce the two animals, in the form of sketches, made by a wonderful artist, Teo Isfan, the artist who created all my tattoos. Thank you so much for everything!
Furthermore we launched a new glass, petite Oriel, which we recommend for splitting an Oriel beer in two, it is a beautiful glass, you know how much we keep insisting on serving glasses. We tested the beers in five different glasses until we chose the final model.
That being said, all you have to do is enjoy a new Oriel experience.