Brewing Tart Beer with Kickaround POG Tart

Kick back with Kickaround POG Tart, our quenching new contribution to your laid-back moments that could use a little zip. With passion fruit, orange, and guava and a hint of tartness on the finish, Kickaround is a refreshing new entry to our seasonal lineup. And speaking of fresh, our approach to brewing it is pretty unique too.  

Most beer styles feature the tastes of sweetness and bitterness, with varying intensities of each, and different balances between the two. Beers like Kickaround mix things up by introducing a third taste: tartness. While malt contributes sweetness, and hops bitterness, tartness can be produced by several different microorganisms that primarily produce tart flavors after consuming sugars (instead of alcohol and carbon dioxide, like typical brewer’s yeast). Let’s look at how brewers manipulate these microorganisms to create pleasantly tart flavors in beer.

Some traditional beers, like the famous Lambics of Belgium, achieve their unique flavor profile by allowing airborne microorganisms such as Brettanomyces, a type of wild yeast, to inoculate cooling wort. This yeast will later produce “funky” flavors, alongside some tartness. Another classic Belgian style, Flanders Red Ale will pick up a bit of sharp acidity (the same kind found in vinegar) from the activity of Acetobacter, a harmless bacterium, interacting with a beer fermenting in wooden barrels. The similarly benign Lactobacillus lends softer acidity to Germany’s long-brewed tart beers, Berliner Weisse and Gose (and sauerkraut too, as well as other typical foods like yogurt). In fact, until the advent of modern brewing science, these wild yeasts and bacteria almost always commingled with regular brewer’s yeast, meaning that almost all beers would have had some level of sourness.

But we’re 21st century brewers, so our brewing team takes a carefully controlled approach to produce Kickaround’s pleasing piquancy. As with any other beer, Kickaround’s formulation starts with the grain bill. While malt typically contributes bready, roasty, and sweet flavors to beer, a portion of Acidulated Malt (a lightly pre-acidified grain) in the grist sets the stage for tartness by ever-so-slightly reducing Kickaround’s pH – lower pH, more tartness. However, the bulk of lowering pH is done by our friend Lactobacillus, in an easily observable and predictable process commonly called kettle souring. Using this method, our brewers begin producing wort as usual, but after removing spent grain in the lauter, the brewing process stops, the wort cools, and Lactobacillus is added directly to the wort to complete the job of acidification. It usually takes just around 24 hours to achieve the level of tartness our brewers are looking for, so once that target pH is hit, the brewing process then resumes as usual. And since fruit tends to have a touch of acidity, the addition of passion fruit, orange, and guava gives further nuance to Kickaround’s pleasant tartness. 

While the complexity of a Gueuze and the depth of an Oud Bruin have their place, a contemporary tart beer like Kickaround exudes easy-going and accessible enjoyment. No fancy tulip glass needed! Whether you’re hanging with friends at a local festival or grabbing brunch on a sunny patio, Kickaround is there to add some zest to your favorite chill moments.  

Kickaround POG Tart is springing forth and available now wherever GLBC beer is sold. Find this perfect partner for however you like to kick it near you using our Beer Finder.

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Words by Michael Williams
Pictures by Adam Ritterspach

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