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Column: Bring on the funk: Left Nut Brewing shares magic behind its house sour
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Left Nut Brewing Co. created a house sour made with lactobacilli cultivated in the brewery. - photo by Kelsey Podo

Not all bacteria is bad bacteria. 

In the brewing world, introducing bacteria to the mix can transform a beer into a beautiful symphony of lively nuances and notes. It can even offer the entertainment of tricking your mind into thinking fruit was used in a beer, but in reality, it wasn’t. 

For Left Nut Brewing Co. in Gainesville, the friendly bacteria, lactobacillus, has recently taken the spotlight with the release of their first house sour. 

This beer was brewed with a lactobacillus culture that was cultivated inside the brewery, meaning that it’s not only one of a kind, but representative of Left Nut.

Rick Foote, Left Nut’s brewmaster, said he was able to grow the culture through extracting it from the husks of malt, which generally have large populations of the bacteria. Foote stores the lactobacilli in tightly sealed Mason jars in a fridge. 

Pap Datta, owner of Left Nut, said just like the role of a sourdough starter with bread, the lactobacilli will act as a mother culture to future sour beer. 

“It’ll develop and mature over time and pick up more qualities and nuances,” Datta said. “After a certain point it’s going to reach where the changes are going to be so subtle. What we have is a Left Nut Brewing culture that nobody else can have because it’s from here.”

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Say hello to Left Nut Brewing Co.'s lactobacillus culture, which is used in its house sour. Photo courtesy Rick Foote

The house sour was released a week ago, and it still has yet to receive a name. 

This brew is soft on the palate and doesn’t offer a mouth-puckering effect like other sours. It’s light, refreshing and tastes similar to Welch’s white grape juice, despite not containing any fruit.

If you’re not one for sours, I encourage you to give this one a try the next time you visit Left Nut. You may change your mind on the style. 

Yes, it does have a touch of acidity and tartness, but it’s both approachable and refreshing. 

Although the house sour stands beautifully on its own, Datta said the brewery plans to make different versions of the concoction, but with fruit added to the mix. 

House sour

Brewery: Left Nut Brewing Co.

Alcohol by volume: 4.9%

Style: Sour brewed with lactobacilli 

Bottom line: Bright, slightly sour and refreshing


“Our thought here is we're going to create a base that will allow us to not only use the base itself, but just a clean sour beer,” he said. “A lot of times I don’t want a fruit, I want something that’s a nice sour beer.”

Foote, who has brewed beer for around 30 years, said before its release, he had worked on the Left Nut blend of lactobacilli for around a year. The brewmaster said he let his instincts tell him when it was the right time to use the culture.

“One good thing about Rick, from a knowledge perspective and experience perspective, a lot of his stuff is very tactile and visceral,” Datta said. “He has that academic background, but it is that experiential learning that gives him the ability to say, ‘I’m going to pull the trigger on it now.’ For us, that’s a gemstone to have.”

Left Nut is located inside the historic Chicopee Mill at 2100 Atlanta Highway in Gainesville. For more information about its tasty brews, visit leftnutbrewing.com.

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