Brewing beer is about controlled creativity – finding a way to bottle inspiration in a manner that you can repeat. But when the Free State Brewing Company (636 Massachusetts Street) decided to mark the 100th anniversary of William S. Burroughs’ birth (which is today, February 5) – they had to do away with convention to honor the eccentric author.
The result is Burroughser Weisse: a dry, sour wheat beer with “cranberry-like tartness and bright fuscia color from the addition of hibiscus flower,” that arrives on tap today at the Lawrence brewpub.
The Burroughs estate came to Free State with the idea of creating a beer to capture the essence of the author, who lived in Lawrence for the last 16 years of his life. Geoff Deman, the head of downtown brewing and his team at Free State, drew inspiration from the “cut-up,” technique, wherein Burroughs would take a finished piece of writing, cut it up into parts and then rearrange it in a different order to create a new version of that prose.
They applied the same concept to the Burroughser Weisse. The beer started conventionally in a mash-tun before filtered water was used to bring down the temperature. Lactobacillus Delbrueckii, a bacteria that sours the wheat beer, was added to the cooled wort. It was then heated to a boil to kill off the bacteria before hops and hibiscus flowers – a nod to the time Burroughs spent in Mexico and Morocco — were used to finish the brew.
“The nose is slightly funky and floral, with evocations of sourdough bread. Light bodied and highly carbonated, Burroughswer Weisse will easily pair with food due to its palette cleansing acidity,” said Deman.
The beer is a 2 on the International Bitterness Units scale and has an alcohol by volume of 3.5 percent. Burroughser Weisse will be tapped at 11 a.m. today. The glasses (pictured above) will be available for $4 each.[Image via Free State]