I imagine whenever someone takes a sip of Three Taverns Craft Brewery’s Lord Grey beer, Charles Grey himself — the namesake of the Earl Grey tea — nods his head from heaven in silent accord.
With the citrusy, floral flavor of bergamot and the light bitterness of black tea, the Decatur-based brewery’s Lord Grey embraces all of the elements people love about the world-famous orange-flavored tea and incorporates it into a pleasantly sour beer.
Alcohol by volume: 5 percent
International Bitterness Units: Not measured
Style: Lacto-fermented sour
Brewery: Three Taverns Craft Brewery
Bottom Line: I started a committed relationship with Lord Grey, and I’m more than OK with it.
Nathan Berrong, Three Taverns spokesman, said the Earl Grey tea comes into play during the beer’s final stage before packaging, similar to when a beer is dry-hopped.
“We put whole-leaf Earl Grey tea into a giant mesh bag and infused the beer with that over the course of several hours,” Berrong said.
Basically, they dropped a huge tea bag into the beer and let it steep.
The beer is one of many of the brewery’s Sour Asylum Series, which all use a strain of Lactobacillus. Also commonly called “lacto,” the introduction of the bacteria lowers the brew’s pH, producing the beloved sour flavor.
The brew is a lacto-fermented sour, and created through the kettle sour production method. Unlike traditional sours, this approach of souring takes place in a kettle or mash tun, not a barrel.
Three Taverns makes a vanilla-lavender variation of Lord Grey called Lord Fog, which people can find only at the brewery.
Berrong said a couple of Three Taverns’ tea-drinking brewers first came up with the idea to integrate tea into a beer.
“We worked with a beer bar in Atlanta, The Porter Beer Bar,” he said. “They had also wanted to do something with tea, so we settled on Earl Grey tea as a collaboration for an event. It was a huge success.”
In 2017 Three Taverns put Lord Grey on draft, then launched it in cans in 2018. This year’s Lord Grey came out at the end of January, and Berrong said it will remain in market until September.
As someone who is unapologetically partial to all things funky and sour, I have fallen head-over-heels for Lord Grey. While many may expect the combination of the beer’s sour nature and the Earl Grey tea to become a confusing squall of flavors, this is not the case.
That’s the best bit about drinking Lord Grey: It’s easy to pinpoint the bergamot and black tea. The more I had of this beer, the more I noticed the scent of lavender.
If you’re not afraid of a little funk and enjoy a nice cup of Earl Grey tea, I insist on giving this beer a go.
Lord Grey will become a frequent resident in my fridge, and that’s perfectly fine with me.