The power outage inspired the gang at Riot Brewing Co. in Chemainus to concoct a new sour outage beverage. (Photo by Don Bodger)

‘Sour outage’ beer commemorates B.C.’s big power outage

Riot Brewery in Chemainus finds a unique way to make the powerful wind storm memorable

There’s no need to be feeling sour about the recent extended power outages from the Dec. 20 wind storm.

Riot Brewing Co. in Chemainus on Vancouver Island has concocted a beverage to mark the occasion in a favourable light.

READ MORE: BC Hydro calls December storm ‘most destructive in history’

“As most of you are aware, Chemainus and the Cowichan Valley were some of the hardest hit areas in the massive wind storm that hit the coast just before Christmas,” noted Megan Calwell, Riot Brewing’s events manager and vice-president of miscellaneous stuff.

“Not only did Riot Brewing Co. have to close its doors on some of the busiest days of the year, we were also in the middle of a brew when we lost power which could have resulted in the loss of close to a thousand dollars worth of ingredients.”

But the braintrust behind Riot seized the opportunity to create the Sour Outage Passionfruit Plum Dark Sour after the most damaging storm in BC Hydro history. It will be available by the end of January.

When the wind started to blow on Dec. 20, 2018, Riot was in the middle of both canning and brewing. The power went out and the storm strengthened, with the brewery staying dark for more than 80 hours. A half-finished beer seemed like it would be lost, but was saved by the power of sour.

Quick-thinking staff members at Riot waited for the beer to hit the right temperature, added just enough lactobacillus to get the souring process going, then held their collective breath for the results.

Two weeks later and this improvised concoction of malts and fruits has become what the Brewery terms “one of the happiest accidents to come out of these tanks.”

With time on their hands during the outage, the brewery employees also reworked a traditional Christmas classic with a poem to fit the situation, as follows:

Twas five nights before Christmas

When all through the trees,

The wind came a-whistling

Like the gods had a sneeze.

The power lines fell

Though the beer was pre-boil,

But the brewery workers

Would not let it spoil.

They pitched lots of lacto

And hoped for the best,

That this tart funky beer

Would pass the taste test.

O sour! O fruity! O malty and hops!

We love this weird beer

From the bottom to tops.

And so this new year

Would you please help us out,

By buying a keg (or case)

Please give us a shout.

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