Strawberry growers have suffered years of unpredictable yields and, at times, heartbreaking wastage, but now a niche Sunshine Coast beer brewer has created a special new use for their delicious crop.
Sunshine Coast Brewery, based at Kunda Park, has created Strawberry Lush, a Belgian-inspired Lambic craft beer that has the kick of an ordinary beer at 4.4% alcohol but with a fruity strawberry taste and low level bitterness.
The beer was launched recently, and is the result of years of thought, research and careful experimentation.
“I’ve had it on my bucket list for around eight years, because the Sunshine Coast is known for its strawberries and I have a love for the unique Lambic beers,” Sunshine Coast Brewery owner Greg Curran said.
Lambic beers are created using a mix of wild yeasts from Belgium’s Zenne Valley, which is home to the capital Brussels, and incorporates mixing of beers of different ages and years of fermentation.
The unusual process gives Lambic beers its distinctive dry, vinous, and cider flavours, usually with a sour aftertaste.
European producers have created Lambic beers using cherries and raspberries, but strawberries struggle to hold their flavour as well so strawberry beer had been virtually unheard of, giving Mr Curran even more motivation to give it a try.
“I went to a meeting of Beerwah strawberry growers and they were keen to find another use for their strawberries as a lot of it was going to waste,” Mr Curran said.
“The process of making the beer is a lot of work, first you have to get the strawberries and freeze them to break the cell walls so you get more flavour, and you’ve got to get the beer off the strawberries at the right time, so it’s been a lot of trial and error.”
However, the eight-year journey has been worth it, with the final product something of which Mr Curran, his wife Brigid and their staff can be proud.
The tasting notes for the local beer suggests it lies “somewhere between the worlds of craft beer, fresh fruit and fine wine”.
“With the use of three yeast strains, a long cold 18-month secondary fermentation and lashings of locally grown fresh strawberries, this mildly sour strawberry beer is sure to be a crowd pleaser,” the notes reveal.
Strawberry Lush is the latest in a string of unique brews that have emerged from Sunshine Coast Brewery over the past decade.
For beer aficionados, the notes reveal that its “generous volumes of carbonation lift aromas of fresh fruit, subtle phenols and yeast-derived complexities out of the glass and onto the nose”.
Strawberry Lush is well worth a try.
Written by Richard Bruinsma for The Sunshine Valley Gazette