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Rainbow Project 2016: The Upside Down 6.7% Soured Fruited Witbier

Yellow was the inspiration behind The Upside Down, a 6.7% Soured Fruited Witbier, in a collaboration that spanned oceans, time zones and hemispheres, between Fork Brewing and Magic Rock Brewing in the UK for the Rainbow Project 2016.

The Upside Down was released to huge fanfare in the UK's Rainbow Project launch last weekend, and this week you can try it here in Welly when we have it on tap at Fork!

You may have heard of the Rainbow Project, and if not, take a posse whilst we fill you in. This annual UK-based brew-a-thon pairs seven UK breweries with seven international breweries, with the intention of joining international brewing communities together and promoting great beer.

The brainchild of ex-Siren brewer, Ryan Witter-Merithew, each brewery pairing draws a colour of the rainbow at random and uses that colour as inspiration for their brew. Over the last couple of years, the Rainbow Project has seen some amazing beers created, some great events and a chance for brewers to work with some of their cross-global brewing spirit animals.

The Rainbow Project 2016 saw UK brewers paired with seven of New Zealand's best young breweries, and Fork Brewing was paired with Magic Rock Brewing, located in Huddersfield, Yorkshire.

"It's pretty cool to be paired up with Magic Rock. We're lucky here in NZ to have a bit of their beer come in every now and then through Beertique, and as their brewery expands, I'm sure we'll see a lot more!" says Kelly.

"I brewed over in the UK for a number of years and lived just out of Sheffield, working at a brewery in the Peak District called Thornbridge. Whilst there, I met a young(ish) brewer by the name of Stuart Ross, who was a great brewer and always a good laugh. One of my favourite ever beer and food pairing videos is of him looking at the camera, eating a cheese and Branston pickle sandwich and knocking back a pint of his beer. No words. The ultimate!

"Stu went on to be the original head brewer at Magic Rock Brewery. Richard Burhouse, who started the brewery, I also knew from my time in England, so to conjure up a recipe with the Magic Rock crew was extra special.

"With The Rainbow Project, every pair of brewers get given a random colour of the rainbow and we got Yellow! Not too much of a novelty, as many beers are yellow, so we had to think outside of the hat!"

Kelly got to working with Magic Rock Production Manager and Lead Brewer, Nick Zeigler, and beginning the mystic art of developing a Yellow brew.

It happened to be fortuitous timing that Nick and Kelly were able to met up at this year's World Beer Cup in Philadelphia to put their heads together and brain spawn a beer yellow and delicious. After the standard downtime of deliberation, they settled on a kettle-soured, tropically fruity, Wit hybrid with a couple interesting twists.

"The cool thing about Fork is I have a nice little nanobrewery and do lots of small batches as either trials or one-off beers that we put on the bar at Fork & Brewer," says Kelly.

"After discussion with Nick, we started narrowing down possible ingredients that provided us with yellow inspiration: chamomile, coriander seeds, turmeric, annatto seeds, pineapples, mangos, passion fruit, lemons, etc. We threw out heaps of ideas and concepts and a recipe began to take shape."

Back in NZ, Kelly started trialling Yellow-themed beers on his small batch brew kit: Roots & Fruits, a Turmeric and Grapefruit Witbier; Bem & Gose, a Salted Mango-infused Gose; and of course, he had extensive knowledge of brewing Fork's big batch in-house yellow beer, Tainted Love, a Passion fruit & Juniper Sour Ale.

"Brewing these beers gave me an understanding of the possible ingredients that we would be using, and Nick and I continued to bounce ideas back and forth until we came up with a recipe," he says.

Nick worked on the grist (the grains used in the brew) and came up with a wonderful fruity combination of hops that would accentuate the fruit and spices used in the brew. Big, passion fruit and raspberry Mosaic, the wonderfully tropical Citra and the lemon and lime notes of Equinox would work perfectly with liberal dosings of pureed mangoes and passionfruit juice, with the spices adding a subtle background hint of citrus, white pepper and ginger.

The brew was based around the kettle souring process, and the decision was made to sour to a slightly higher pH with our Lactic Acid Bacteria strains (around pH 3.4-3.6).

A big late addition of hops was used in the brew house and the fermentation used a yeast once known as Brettanomyces bruxellensis, that has now been reclassified as Saccharomyces bruxellensis Trois. This strain is massively fruity, throwing off big tropical notes - perfect for this brew.

"I used some amazing Australian Kensington Mangoes that were intensely sweet and aromatic, even throwing off a little spicy note themselves!" says Kelly.

"The passion fruit juice was the same type that I use in Tainted Love, nice and tart with a clean sweetness and wonderful aromatics. These were both added part way through the fermentation, so that the yeast could ferment out the natural sugars present in the fruit and add to the lovely, tart, sweet-sour finish."

"After bumping a few ideas around between us we settled on a Stranger Things-influenced name (watch it already, if you haven't!), which we thought, considering the relative geography of the breweries, worked well!"

The Upside Down will be launched in the UK alongside the other six Rainbow beers at various Rainbow Project events on 17 September.

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