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Tainted Love - Passionfruit & Juniper Yoghurt Sour

This week's Fork Brewing (re)release is Tainted Love, a come-hither 6.2% Passionfruit & Juniper Yoghurt Sour with double the passion. (Hits play on cassette player, cueing an all-too-familiar 80s synth riff.)

But unlike the original heartache anthem that lends its title to this beer, we ensure there will be all sorts of running to it, and no running from it.

The brewer says it's a "genre-bending beer", but as those who have dallied in one of Fork’s house faves, Yoghurt and Bruesli Sour, you'll see there's a bit of a puckish pattern going on here with the yoghurt/sour combo...

Fork fans may remember the OG/V.1/2014 release of Tainted Love, which was a collab between Kelly and Ben Love of Gigantic Brewing in Portland, who was over for last year's Beervana fest and took part in its Portland Brewer's Exchange.

He was accompanied by his partner (now wife), Andrea Christianson, who was working at Wild Rose Brewery in Calgary, Canada at that stage, so they ended up doing a collab-a-trois. (Way less salacious than it sounds, but still loads of fun.)

"We decided a 'kettle sour' would be the way to go," says Kelly.

"Ben, Andrea and I riffed up a storm for the original batch, deciding on the decadent and exotic passionfruit as a flavour component. I'd brewed with this before with Burning Sky Brewery and Wild Beer Co. over in England, with great success, in a beer called Shnoodlepip. We also decided on using juniper berries, which Wild Rose had recently used in one of their beers.

"In the first Tainted Love, we were probably a bit subdued with these magical additions, so this time around I decided to add a little bit of extra passion and up the love ante in the brew this year."

This year's batch Tainted Love heaps on the decadence with Kelly adding 100% more passionfruit pulp to both the fermentation and maturation process, as well as a third more juniper, in the form of a juniper berry infusion, whipped up by the Fork & Brewer kitchen crew. This heady elixir was dosed into the finished brew to enhance the character of these resinous, sticky, pine, citrus, woody nuggets of goodness.

The result is a heady, tropical, passionfruit tang with an underlying lemon and pine, gin-like aroma to romance your senses.

The tartness, a combination of the lovely yoghurt bug-derived lactic acid and natural malic, citric and ascorbic acids that the passionfruit brings, come together to bring layers of subtle sourness that is both refreshing and cleansing in this juicy sour.

But why would you want sourness in a beer? (a.k.a. Who wants a science lesson?)

"Generally, beer, as we know it uses hops to add bitterness to a brew and this acts as a counterbalance to the inherent sweetness that sugars from malted grains, alcohol and other fermentation byproducts give to a beer," says Kelly.

"By reducing bitterness somewhat, beer can maintain its drinkability in a slightly different balanced form with sourness acting as the counterpoint to sweetness.

"Ben had a really popular beer back in Portland called Boysen the Hood, which used fat-free yoghurt to naturally sour the wort from a brew prior to fermenting with ale yeast and adding a load of boysenberry puree after fermentation.

"Utilising strains of yoghurt bacteria, in this case, a culture of Lactobacillus delbrueckii bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, reduced the pH of the brewed wort via the production of natural lactic acid.

"A combination of Pilsener and Wheat malts, Flaked Barley and some acidified (or acidulated) malt, prepped by the maltster with a combination of lactic acid bacteria and lactic acid solution were combined for the grist and the wort was drawn off into the kettle.

"At this stage, the wort is boiled to provide sterilisation, and remove the possibility of any other bacteria or wild yeasts that may be present on the malted grains from taking hold of the next stage of the process and potentially resulting in the production of undesirable flavours or aromas. No one wants a beer that smell like baby vomit. (No one.)

"The wort was then chilled to around 40 degrees Celsius. Lactic acid-producing bacteria love it around this bacteria. This is why when you make your Easiyo, you fill the chamber with boiling water and add your milk and culture solution to incubate away around this temperature. These bacteria aren't fond of oxygen when they want to grow. This is called 'anaerobic fermentation' and the sugars are converted to lactic acid.

"After 40-48 hours, the pH of the wort in the kettle drops enough so that there is a noticeable and clean acidity, almost like lemon or citrus yoghurt when you taste it. Once you are happy with the pH you have, the wort is then re-boiled and hops are added for very low level bitterness."

And to top this particular science project off, Tainted Love was fermented with a combination of a hybrid Californian Common beer yeast and American Ale yeast before charitable amounts of passionfruit pulp and the juniper berry infusion were added for both the fermentation and maturation.

"So Tainted Love is a bit of a genre-bending beer," says Kelly.

"It challenges the common perceptions of what this delightful beverage is and can be, with a nod to those lovers of ciders and wines, who will be able to appreciate Tainted Love for its layered complexity.

"Am I happy with it? 100%."

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