Von Ebert Brewing release 33 Stars, Alma, and The Quality of Silence

image of 33 Stars courtesy of Von Ebert Brewing
image of 33 Stars courtesy of Von Ebert Brewing

The last full week in August is a big one as it relates to beer releases from Von Ebert Brewing. The Portland brewer will release three new beers with 33 Stars, Alma, and The Quality of Silence.

33 Stars is an Oregon-grown lager that was brewed using hops and malts from the same Oregon farm. Goschie Farms based in Silverton, Oregon, grew all of the hops and malted barley used in the new beer. However, the barley was malted out of state in Washington at Skagit Valley Malting.

“When Skagit Valley Malting dropped off some samples of new malts, we were especially inspired by their pilsner Wintmalt,” explained Sean Burke, head brewer, Von Ebert Glendoveer, in a statement. “Our wheels really started turning when we saw the malt was grown at Goschie Farms. We knew they’re also a hop farm and instantly had the idea to make a lager using malt and hops from the same farm. It felt like a unique idea and a good way to let Oregon ingredients shine.”

The Sterling hops used in 33 Stars were from Indie Hops that were grown at Goschie Farms. These hops are said to bring forth a nice lemon, floral note that was pushed to the forefront of the beer. The malted barley used was Wintmalt that gives the beer a pale appearance with a wonderful grainy character. 33 Stars is avaialbe on draft only and sits at and easy drinking 4.8% ABV.

“Given the Oregon-grown ingredients, we wanted the beer to have a name that reflected the state,” continued Burke, in a statement. “The Oregon state flag contains 33 stars, symbolizing its status as the 33rd state to join the Union.”

image of Alma courtesy of Von Ebert Brewing
image of Alma courtesy of Von Ebert Brewing

The other two new beers released from Von Ebert Brewing are part of the brewery’s Heritage Series. Both Alma and The Quality of Silence will be available in 500mL bottles beginning on Friday, August 28th.

Alma is a foeder-aged farmhouse ale with brettanomyces and organic peaches. The 6% ABV beer has flavors of stone fruit with botanical and funk characteristics.

The Quality of Silence is a blended mixed-culture beer with a light addition of Rainier cherries. The 5.9% tart beer offers drinkers flavors of citrus and marzipan with a hint of cherry.

Here are further details on each of the two Heritage Series beers provided by Von Ebert Brewing…

This beer started as a farmhouse ale fermented in stainless steel. The malt bill consisted of an under modified wind malt called Gateway from Mecca Grade Estate Malt in Madras, Oregon, as well as Venora, which is the same malster’s version of Vienna malt. Alongside these, Einkorn and Emmer Faro from Bluebird Grain Farms in Winthrop, Washington, were used. Savinjski Golding hops, also known as Styrian Goldings, were used in the boil.

After the first fermentation, the beer was transferred to a foeder to go through the second fermentation. That foeder was one of four built for Von Ebert by Foeder Crafters of America in St. Louis, Missouri, and has been designated by the Von Ebert team to only contain brettanomyces and a “clean” base to feed it with. No lactic acid bacteria touches the foeder. For this beer, the Von Ebert team chose a number of different brett strains and brett blends to pair with the base farmhouse ale.

Once the sugar content was stable and the flavors were to the liking of the Von Ebert team, a portion of the foeder beer was moved to gin barrels that originally housed California Zinfandel. To ensure flavors of Zin and gin did not dominate the profile, the beer only rested in the barrels for a short period of time.

The gin barrel aged beer was then moved into a stainless steel tank with 1,000 pounds of peaches.

“I was looking for high quality, organic peaches to use in the beer,” stated Sean Burke, head brewer, Von Ebert Glendoveer. “My internet searching led me to Alma Gaeta from Peachwood Orchard in Hood River, Oregon. During my discussions with her, I explained I was looking for a blend of peach varieties. I wanted one that had a high level of classic ‘peach flavor’ and another that was more acid forward. In the end, she helped us settle on three different varieties.”

Once the fruit fermented out and the maturation was complete, the beer was moved off the fruit and into a brite tank to prepare for packaging. For the fourth and final fermentation, a slightly lower level of carbonation was used in the bottle so that carbonic acid wouldn’t cause the beer to become too sharp or to lose the subtle nuances from all the previous steps.

“After my conversations with Alma, it seemed only natural to name the beer after her,” Burke mentioned. “Her passion for what she does and her story are inspiring to me as a craftsperson.”

image of Quality of Silence courtesy of Von Ebert Brewing
image of Quality of Silence courtesy of Von Ebert Brewing

The Quality of Silence
This beer is a blend of a single puncheon beer and a beer from one of the Von Ebert open-top foeders.

The base beer for the puncheon portion consisted of a blend of European pilsner malts and North American un-malted white wheat. This was fermented with our favorite farmhouse ale string in stainless steel, then moved to puncheons. For the mixed-culture, the Von Ebert brewing team propped up the brett blend that was used in the making of Bouquet Blanc earlier this year, and also cultured microflora off Glenora grapes from the backyard of head brewer, Sean Burke.

The base of the open-top foeder portion of the blend consisted of two different foeder-aged beers and some “clean” stainless fermented saison. All of this was blended into the open-top, or removable top, foeder.

The team then pitted 350 pounds of Rainier cherries from Evans Fruit Company in Moshier, Oregon. Rainier cherries aren’t a very flavor forward cherry, but have a nice acid to sugar ratio. They also bagged and added 28 pounds of the pits to the foeder for flavor. During the first part of the fermentation of the fruit, the Von Ebert brewing team performed a punch down multiple times to maximize fruit contact with the microbes in the beer and to allow CO2 to escape through the cap of floating cherries. The top was then sealed and the beer matured on the fruit.

“Then we held a blending session with the entire brewing staff,” said Burke. “The goal was to get all the brewers familiar with what we had in the oak, but also to try to create a few blends that we could use in the future. One of the advantages to using more people than just our Glendoveer brewing staff  for the blending process is that we get a broader palate spectrum and therefore, more complex blends to work with.”

One blend that most everyone in the blending session landed on was the blend eventually used to create The Quality of Silence. By blending in the puncheon beer, the cherry flavor was reduced a bit, but the resulting beer is dynamic and really shows off the sum of the parts.

The beer was blended, packaged, and conditioned in the bottle, then matured in the bottle to stabilize some of the flavors and let the blend meld.

“The name comes from a piece I was listening to where astronomers were talking about the different types of silence in the universe and how they pertain to whether there may or may not be other life forms out there,” Burke explained. “They concluded that if there aren’t, the fate of the universe could be in the hands of humanity. It’s a thought provoking notion.”

33 Stars is currently available on tap at both on Ebert Glendoveer and Von Ebert Pearl. Alma and The Quality of Silence will be available in bottles and on draft beginning on Friday.