Savannah Banana beer
Savannah’s Service Brewing Company partnered with the local baseball team to create a new banana brew. (Courtesy Service Brewing)

Banana aroma in beer is a classic sign of a Hefeweizen or some Belgian-style ales. But actual bananas in the beer?

Leave it up to Savannah’s Service Brewing Company to try it. In collaboration with the local baseball team. Service came up with this accessible creation with the Savannah Bananas baseball team that’s perfect for a hot summer day at the ballpark. CEO Kevin Ryan explains.

Tell us a little about how this beer came about. How did you come up with the recipe and what did you put in it?

This was all about supporting our new local baseball team and having some fun at the same time. A lot of Belgian beers carry levels of banana ester, so it wasn’t a huge stretch to come up with the Savannah Banana Beer.   Our brew contains 360 pounds of bananas for every 60 barrels. We used a cereal mash to break down the proteins in the bananas to access any remaining starch in the bananas. We also let the bananas over ripen to bring a little more banana flavor to the beer, but most of the sugars are consumer during fermentation. We wanted to the beer to be very accessible and refreshing for the 100% humidity and high temps coming our way.  We brewed about four research and development batches and did tastings with the Savannah Banana folks before going forward with production.

Generally, when you talk about “bananas” in a beer, you’re usually talking about the aroma of a traditional Hefe. But you actually added real bananas to this recipe to boost the banana characteristics of this beer. How did you come up with that idea?

We wanted a banana beer brewed with real bananas. That is it.  The esters from the Belgian yeast are nice, but we wanted authentic banana in the beer.  We peeled and blended 360 pounds of bananas for the cereal mash with six-row malt.

Is there a big banana flavor in the beer? Or is this more subtle?  What can I expect when I crack this open?

Subtle. We wanted to avoid the banana bread flavor, we wanted subtle hints of banana and a malt focused brew. It’s a great stadium beer that folks could enjoy over and over again.

First, I’m way behind the times. I always thought the Savannah minor league team was the Sand Gnats. Anyway, Did the Bananas approach you, or vice-versa?

You are Waaaaaayyyy behind the times! Yes, after the 2015 season the Sand Gnats moved to Columbia (where Tim Tebow is now playing). The replacement team is a summer league not affiliated with Major League Baseball.  The team is made up of college players looking to get more exposure, playing time, and keep their skills sharp in the off season. The league is focused on entertainment where the fans are the priority. The name was crowd sourced and made national news. The team was hard pressed to keep merchandise on the shelves last year with folks from all over the country ordering “Savannah Banana” gear. Savannah has really gotten behind the team last year and this year’s games are just about sold out.

Our beer is available at the stadium, so last year we approached them with the idea of a small batch Savannah Banana Beer. We made a big Belgian beer that was great, but not a baseball stadium beer. This year in the off season we approached the team about a large scale production for the stadium in cans. They could not have been more willing partners. The Savannah Bananas are a great group of folks who worked as hard as anyone to make sure things are done right.

From what I can see, the Bananas are pretty keen on local craft beer. are they good supporters of Savannah’s craft scene?

The Savannah Bananas are very tuned into the local community and want to make sure they give their fans what they want. Craft Beer is in demand and the Bananas deliver with a great selection at the stadium. Additionally, they have a phenomenal property that sits unused in the off season, so why not host a craft beer festival. This year they held an all day beer festival at the stadium. I was happily surprised at how well the festival was organized and executed, you would have thought they had been doing this same festival for many years.

When can we get our hands on this beer?

We already have our second batch planned for the Savannah Banana beer, but you will have to come down to Savannah to find it. The demand for the beer has been tremendous and we need to make sure we can serve the Savannah Banana fans first and foremost. There will be limited six pack distribution in the Savannah area, but more may be available as the season progresses and we get an idea of how much is being consumed at the stadium.

What’s coming up next for Service?

May 13 is the release of our Gun Bunny Wit (also in cans).

July 1 2017 marks the release of our Double IPA, Battlewagon in cans!  This year marks the 100 year anniversary of World War I and this can recognizes items from that era – you will love the design.

Our Third Anniversary is 22 July, we will have a great party, some throw back beers on tap at the brewery and of course the bottle release of SBC3.   Clear your calendar!

Anything else we might have missed?

I just would like to encourage folks to come down and check us out in Savannah. We are located right downtown and would love to see them in the brewery.  There is a new craft distillery across the street so folks can knock out two craft tours in an afternoon!

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