Podcast Episode 285: Little Fish Brew Mixed Culture Beers With Subtlety and Grace

Using both spontaneous and culture-driven processes, this Ohio brewery is making award-winning mixed-culture beers with a focus on nuance, sustainability, and technical execution.

Jamie Bogner Jan 8, 2023 - 6 min read

Podcast Episode 285: Little Fish Brew Mixed Culture Beers With Subtlety and Grace Primary Image

Sean White in the brewery attic with bags of aging hops

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Sean White, cofounder of Little Fish in Athens, Ohio, is committed to mixed-culture beer. It’s not the only thing they brew, but it’s part of the soul of the brewery and a founding pillar that they’ve continued to develop—and improve—over the past eight years. Over that time, they’ve been recognized a number of times for these beers—including medals from the World Beer Cup in 2016 and 2018 and from GABF in 2020 and 2022. But, if you ask White, he’ll tell you that they’re still figuring it out. They haven’t settled, and they’re still learning.

In this episode, White discusses how they brew these compelling beers, from timing ingredient additions to parameters around their spontaneous beer program. Along the way, he discusses:

  • maintaining multiple cultures via solera and brink
  • minimizing beer waste to promote sustainability by reducing failure
  • balancing acidity in award-winning beers
  • neutralizing aged hops to manage funky flavor components
  • sourcing and processing local fruit
  • adding fruit in the barrel
  • bottle-conditioning with an acid shock starter to reduce yeast stress
  • topping up barrels to prevent the development of off-flavors
  • not drinking beer for the past eight months, while still brewing it

And more.

This episode is brought to you by:

G&D Chillers
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Sponsored by BSG, exclusive distributors of Rahr Malting Co., producers of quality malt since 1847. Navigating the seas of brewing can be a treacherous affair, so let Rahr North Star Pils™ be your guide. With overtones of honey and sweet bread, flavor and aroma notes of hay and nutty character. Rahr North Star Pils™ is a base malt you can set your compass by! Great for any beer style, but perfect for a classic lager. Set a course for BSGCraftbrewing.com to learn how.

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At ProBrew, they believe that your brewery deserves equipment as unique as the drinks that you craft. That is why their solutions are specifically designed to help you brew YOUR beer, not someone else’s. From brewing to fermenting to carbonating and can filling, ProBrew’s customizable equipment empowers breweries to expand operations at their own pace. For more information, visit www.probrew.com or email [email protected] to learn exactly how they can take your operations to the next level. ProBrew, brew YOUR beer.

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If you hear Old Orchard mentioned in the brewing community, don't be surprised: the flavored craft juice concentrate blends from Old Orchard have shipped to over 46 states. Their new brewing customers often mention discovering Old Orchard through the word-of-mouth recommendation of another brewer. To join the core of Old Orchard's brewing community, learn more at oldorchard.com/brewer

From the rotatable pick-up tube on Rogue Brewing's pilot brewhouse to the integrated hopbacks on Sierra Nevada's twin prototyping brewhouses, Ss Brewtech has taken technology they invented working with world-renowned industry veterans and made them available to every craft brewer. To learn more about Ss Brewtech's innovation list, head over to SsBrewtech.com

Have you heard of Christian Hansen? They are the fermentation experts with over 100 years experience in dairy and wine. They are now bringing that knowledge of microbes to brewers with their SmartBev range of frozen liquid yeast and freeze-dried bacteria. This portfolio allows for consistent performance at the brewery and produces a range of high quality brews. Reimagine what your beer can be. Go to Chr-Hansen.com to learn more on the SmartBev line of products.

Join the craft beer community in Sacramento March 19-22 for the California Craft Beer Summit. Access educational sessions on business and technical skills and network with industry leaders all under one roof. Speakers include David Walker, Natalie and Vinnie Cilurzo and Ken Grossman. The Summit is an important opportunity for your entire brewing team – from production to sales to marketing – to develop their knowledge, skills and experience in the industry. Early bird discounts end January 20 visit cacraftbeersummit.com to register.

Jamie Bogner is the Cofounder and Editorial Director of Craft Beer & Brewing Magazine®. Email him at [email protected].