25 May 2016
From Jester King:
Earlier this week here at the brewery, I noticed that our recently released Fantôme Del Rey had become “ropy”. When I tasted it, the mouthfeel and texture had a slickness to it, and the beer poured into my glass with some viscosity. I was happy with the aroma and flavor, but the texture definitely left something to be desired.
As a result, we’re going to put sales of Fantôme Del Rey on hiatus. Our hope is that the Brettanomyces yeast contained in our mixed culture will resolve the issue over time. The slickness in the mouthfeel is most likely attributable to the lactic acid producing bacteria Pediococcus. According to the Milk the Funk Wiki (one of my favorite websites), Pediococcus may cause ropiness due to the production of exopolysaccharides, which mostly effect mouthfeel and appearance. Brettanomyces has the ability to break down exopolysaccharides over time.
It’s hard to know how long Brettanomyces may take to hopefully resolve the issue. I think it’s safe to assume we’re looking at months, not weeks. My hope is that in three or four months, the ropiness will have dissipated. But there’s no certainty to this. Only time will tell. If you have purchased Fantôme Del Rey, my recommendation is to age the bottle(s), preferably on its side in a warm spot, for at least three months. We’ll be opening bottles in-house and will provide updates on how the beer is progressing. If you find this impractical and/or undesirable, no problem at all. Please e-mail me directly firstname.lastname@example.org, and I will make things right for you.
How Fantôme Del Rey ended up becoming ropy is a bit of a mystery to us. The beer went through a number of iterations on its journey to blending and bottling, and our mixed culture was given a number of opportunities to express itself. Old, barrel-aged beer brewed in August of 2014 with dark candi syrup, ground coriander, and black peppercorn, and fermented with truffle honey, was blended with young beer and bottle conditioned. Like all our beer (aside from our spontaneous fermentations), it was fermented with our mixed culture, which contains dozens of native microorganisms, many of which we don’t even know what they are. Mixed culture fermentation is always a roll of the dice. The results can be absolutely beautiful at times, but we also routinely taste beer we’re unhappy with, which we further age or discard. The fermentation is outside our direct control, and we merely create an environment for the microorganisms to express themselves in unique ways. In this case unfortunately, a fermentation issue became apparent after we had already released the beer.
I apologize that one of our beers isn’t presenting the way we want it to. While off-flavors and flaws in beer can be subjective (for instance, we enjoy the lightstruck character in beer we get from packaging in green bottles), I find ropiness to be a distraction and impediment to enjoying beer. In the end, our goal is to make beer that’s drinkable and enjoyable. Unfortunately, I think the ropiness currently found in Fantôme Del Rey causes it to dip below this standard, which is why we won’t be selling any more of the batch for the time being.
— Jeffrey Stuffings, Founder