WHAT IS A PARKHOUSE BEER?
At Rorschach, we brew mixed-fermentation 'farmhouse-style beers' in a turn-of-the-century house, located beside The Johnathan Asbridge Park. Quite literally, we are a house on a park. So then why make the distinction if we are simply brewing beers within the ‘farmhouse’ style? Well, firstly, there is no set definition of what constitutes a ‘farmhouse’ style beer. To some, it is a Saison that is brewed with a single lab sourced strain of Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (brewer’s yeast) and fermented in a short, predictable timeframe. To others, it is a light, hoppy wort that is fermented with a culture of wild yeast and bacteria collected from their immediate surroundings and matured over the course of months, or even years. Secondly, we are not brewing this beer on a farm, or, for that matter, anywhere near a farm. Those same microorganisms that exist in the air and the immediate surroundings on a farm are not quite the same as those found in a city, or in an industrial park.
With this discrepancy in nomenclature across the industry, and no set definition of the style, we feel that it is warranted to be clear about how our Parkhouse ales are brewed. All Parkhouse ales brewed by Rorschach will be crafted with a common set of elements and techniques. Firstly, all of our Parkhouse ales will be primarily fermented with our house culture of wild yeast and bacteria, which consists of some lab cultured Saison strains of Saccharomyces, as well as wild yeast and bacteria collected from our immediate surroundings and from alternative microbe sources. Secondly, these ales will all continue to develop, in barrels or stainless steel vessels, over the course of months or years, until which point they are deemed to be mature and ready for bottling. Finally, all Rorschach Parkhouse ales will be re-fermented in bottles (bottle-conditioned), as we feel this results in the greatest amount of complexity and best allows the beer to age gracefully, further evolving over the course of months and years.
To be clear, we are not saying that our processes and techniques are the best, or the only way to brew ‘farmhouse’ style beers, or even that this process is entirely unique. There are many breweries around the world that brew terrific beers of a similar style, with both similar and wildly different techniques and philosophies. We simply feel that we attain our best, most complex and flavourful results by following the techniques outlined above. Further, with all of the variability in techniques and locations of breweries that brew ‘farmhouse’ style beers, we feel that a characteristic term that encompasses our philosophy and location allows us to emphasize our goal of crafting distinctive beers with terroir, a sense of time and place.