Farmhouse Style Brewing
For us here at La Sirène, brewing Farmhouse Ales is not about brewing beer on a farm.. it’s more of a philosophy, an approach that honours the origins of Farmhouse Brewing and points towards the ingredients we use, the hyper-local origins of those ingredients, the age-old techniques adopted and working with the seasons to embody the spirit of Farmhouse brewing.
We gravitate towards using simple & natural ingredients in their most natural form such as raw grains and 100% Victorian-grown malts. Our techniques are as old as the brewing style we champion and include open vat oak fermentation, no temperature control (to allow our microbes pure creative expression) and 100% bottle refermentation – similar to that of Methode Champenoise (traditional champagne-making technique).
The jewel in our crown is our Authentic Coolship (Koelschip); a shallow rectangular vessel we purchased back in 2015 and represents the original way of cooling the wort (using the cool night Alphington air) before the invention of refrigeration. This provincial technique – that is more art than science has been credited with creating some of the most complex spontaneous wild ales in history. As Coolship pioneers in Australia & the Southern Hemisphere, presently we have good stockpiles of ageing Coolship wild ales in our large format oak barrels which we will continue to release and share with you as they ripen.
La Sirène (French for “the Siren”) emerged in 2010 & was a natural response to a calling to create & specialise in Farmhouse & Wild Ales, in particular “Saisons”. Saison, a style of beer little known back then and even now relatively in Australia, was one with which we were completely enamoured and intrigued. Armed with backgrounds in microbiology and winemaking and with further studies in Brewing Operations through Federation University & World Beer Academy in Chicago, we decided it would be the brewery’s sole focus and purpose and our dedication to this interpretive style continues to this day…
Saison originated as a style in the French speaking part of Wallonia in Southern Belgium, hence our French name as a nod to it’s origins, where beer was born from a need for sustenance (to quench the thirst of field workers on farms due to the lack of sanitary water) and born from agrarian roots. Each Farmhouse would reportedly have its own distinct style of ale due to the varying factors of microflora, ingredients and each makers’ individual techniques.
Our House Style
Our House Style stems from the idea that beer should be as recognisable as wines are from regions. This has inspired us to develop our own House Style that is recognisable upon opening one of our wild ales and is the culmination of continually working towards infusing as much of our ‘site-driven character’ as possible, into every bottle.
From our Wild ales that are fermented with our Native Melbourne mixed culture, to our modern Hop-forward Farmhouse ales and Wine-hybrid ferments, we endeavour to create beautiful ales that are thought-provoking and engaging yet highly drinkable by all.
The character of our wild ales is derived from our immediate environment. From the air, the walls within our brewery & our barrels. Our unique environmental paradox of having a rural setting of 130 acres of microbially-rich Parklands and the Darebin Creek next door to our inner-city Farmhouse Brewery determines the unique character of our artisan ales . Our House mixed culture incorporates all these site specific air-borne yeasts and bacteria that give that signature La Sirène character.
All of our bottled ales are open-fermented and barrel-aged where they undergo natural spontaneous fermentation and allowed to further ripen for years before release in Premium French oak barrels sourced from our favourite local Victorian wineries.
We lovingly hand bottle all of our wild ales in genuine Champagne bottles that are 100% refermented in the same bottle using a technique similar to that of Methode Champenoise and involves ageing the ales after conditioning for many months and in some cases for years before release to encourage the prized ‘Prise De Mousse’ (creamy mousse) in our ales on pouring.
An Urban Farmhouse Brewery Initiative
As modern day Farmhouse Ale producers, creating artisanal ales in a sustainable way naturally is at the forefront of our ethos and practices.
At La Sirène we believe it is our responsibility to ensure we do our bit where we can to minimise our impact on this planet in the production of our Wild Ales. As a result, we have implemented many initiatives across our business, from our raw materials supply to packaging recyclability, responsible power usage and waste disposal to ensure we minimise waste & unnecessary consumption of finite resources.
One of our best initiatives revolves around water usage and the low water usage to beer ratio during production after re-engineering our brewhouse and becoming mindful of how much water is really needed to run a modern-day brewery..
Travel miles is something we are conscious of in the production of our Farmhouse Ales so in early 2017, we implemented an initiative to mitigate our impact that includes sourcing all of our barley & wheat from 100% Victorian maltsters, ensuring all of our tonnes of spent grain annually is used as feed for local cattle farms and sourcing all of our supplies hyper-locally as a preference irrespective of costs. We also have an internal policy of hiring from local as a preference to support our local community and minimise our company footprint. On average our staff live approx 6.2km from our brewery which we are continually working towards reducing where we can.
Our gradual move towards canned products has also contributed to our desire to minimise our footprint as cans are 100% recyclable and represent lighter freight solutions hence reducing carbon emissions in getting beer across the country & abroad.
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