Lentils in my beer

February 23rd, 2017
Lentils in my beer
They were already a favourite in soups, curries and savoury pies – now, thanks to a Lobethal brewer, lentils have made their way into beer glasses around South Australia.

Lobethal Bierhaus’ Lentil Pale Ale, which is believed to be the first in the country, is the novel result of a collaboration between the microbrewery owner Alistair Turnbull and pulse processing company AGT Foods Australia.

“They approached me with the idea that they wanted to lift the profile of pulses,” Alistair said.

“The majority of lentils grown here in South Australia actually end up being exported.

“AGT wanted to show people that they have uses outside just your regular kitchen.

“For me it was a bit of fun – they’re a great little product to play with.”

AGT’s international body had already worked with Canadian brewery Rebellion Brewing to create a lentil cream ale in 2015, which helped guide Alistair’s own methods.

“I didn’t use the same hops as they used over in Canada but I used the same percentage of lentils versus barley,” he said.

“They passed on some of their research to me which meant I didn’t have to do quite as many little trials.”

Whole and diamond cut red lentils, sourced from farmers on the Yorke Peninsula, were milled at a ratio of 30 per cent lentils and 70 per cent barley to create the brew.

According to Alistair, they add mouthfeel, head retention and flavour to the end product.

“The lentils contribute to an earthy flavour which is there but not too intense – it’s not bitter,” he said. “It’s not intended to be a really difficult to drink beer.

“Beer tastes and looks better if it has more mouthfeel and head retention – meaning you get that nice froth on the top that doesn’t disappear once you pour it – rather than being a still, lifeless drink.

“Lentils contribute to that.”

The first batch of 1,200 litres filled two kegs and around 3,500 bottles, which Alistair said have been jumping off the shelves at his own restaurant and independent bottle shops throughout Adelaide.

“On Friday we had about 4,000 litres left, all in bottles,” he said.

“A lot of people are trying it for something different – it will be interesting to see on the second round if people re-order.

“We’ve had a lot of interest and it’s definitely given lentils a bit of a profile.

“I would be more than happy than happy to brew it again based on the response we’ve already had.” While he doesn’t think it will replace traditional beer, he has high hopes for the Lentil Pale Ale finding a long-term place in the market.

“There will no doubt be people who like it and who will drink a lot of it,” he said.

“Mainstream beer would be pretty difficult to dislodge but there’s no reason it couldn’t become one of the major beers we make.”

With a malthouse on site, The Lobethal Bierhaus was one of the first craft breweries in Australia to start malting its own grain when it opened in 2007.

It currently produces 18 different beers including a specialty crème brulee flavour intended to taste like the dessert.

“We’ve got 12 staple beers and we are always changing things around a little bit depending on the season, the demand and what’s available,” Alistair said.

“You can have a lot of fun with it.”

South Australian Business Manager for AGT Foods Australian Hayden Battle said the initiative has helped lift the profile of lentils and the pulse industry in South Australia.

“Given most of what we grow is exported to be consumed overseas, we wanted to highlight the versatility of the humble lentil and what better way to do it than make beer out of it,” Hayden said.

“Pulses themselves have quite a few benefits with pulses having a lower carbon footprint than beef - they are high in protein and a good source of fibre.”

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