If you’re in any way a foodie—or just happen to have a boatload of cash to toss at fancy restaurants—then you probably know about the sous vide method of cooking. If you’re neither, here you go: When cooking sous vide, a chef vacuum seals meat in a plastic bag and submerges it in water held at a precise temperature for an extended period of time. The result slow cooks even the toughest cuts into succulent, tender bites.
Yeah, that’s cool, but what about sous vide beer?
That’s actually not a crazy question.
Karlos Knott, brewmaster and co-founder of Louisiana’s Bayou Teche Brewing, has looked into it and the results are pretty fantastic:
“I sealed the malts and flavoring hops and water in big food grade bags for a 5-gallon batch. I figured that I would not sparge these grains so I put just over 5 gallons of water, some Belgian pale malt and a few others with the flavor and aroma hops. I ran the bags through the sous vide process, setting the temperatures and times that I thought would work. There was to be no boil, but one of the advantages of sous vide is that by holding the ingredients at precise temperatures at long periods of time under vacuum [it] kills all of the things that a boil accomplishes. The only drawback to this process is you cannot extract the oils from your bittering hops so I used some hop extract only for bittering.”
Knott’s made a number of small batches, but hasn’t released his Biere de Sous Vide to the public. According to the brewmaster, the beer is unlike anything he’s tasted, as it transforms the mouthfeel and preserves all the hop flavor and aroma: “It’s very soft and round, almost cloudlike,” he told me. Then, later, “think soft serve ice cream.”
Knott’s still working out a way to make the process commercially viable (he says it’s actually ingredient inefficient but you make up for that with energy savings).
If it does ever hit the market, it would easily be one of the most innovative beers we’ve seen.
[Image courtesy of Bayou Teche Brewing]