Mitch Grittman (far right) with friends and wife Angela at NOLA on Tap on Sept. 26.
Home brewer Mitch Grittman, also known as the "Half Hearted Brewer," has impressed local palates with his unique sour beers. At NOLA On Tap’s (NOOT) home brew beer competition in New Orleans City Park on Sept. 26, Grittman won second place for his Watermelon Gose and third place for Aigre Blanc, a sour fermented with two strains of Lactobacillus and a wild strain of Saccharomyces, and dry-hopped with Hallertau Blanc. Grittman spoke with Gambit about his beer.
Gambit: In addition to Saturday’s wins, have you won any other awards for your home-brewed beer?
Grittman: I took first place at NOLA On Tap 2014. NOOT has been the only competition I have entered, because BJCP-judged (Beer Judge Certification Program) competitions often embrace classic styles and the guidelines assigned to them. Not to say that there is anything wrong with those styles. But I want to brew beers that have my own personal touch.
Gambit: What are the major differences between brewing sour beers and conventional styles?
Grittman: There is very little attention that goes into the grain bill, or the hops. Everything revolves around the microbes and fermentation. Sour beer can take as little as six days to make — or it can take three years.
Gambit: What attracts you to the sour beer style?
Grittman: Sour beer is still a relatively obscure style. One of the things that originally drew me to brewing was being able to wow people when they tasted my beer. I love introducing people to a new flavor, or sensation.
The complexity that comes from microbial interaction is fascinating to me. You can really make so many different flavors using only microbes. Different cell counts of different microbes, combined with different cell counts of different yeasts — the possibilities are endless and so often delicious. Learning and understanding how they all interact and affect the beer is such a fulfilling experience.