Search results for: Old Ale

Just when you thought the beer offerings at the annual music festival couldn’t get any more awesome, this year proved to be the most refreshing and abundant yet.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Venice, CA—After three years of anticipation, Firestone Walker Brewing Company’s new Propagator campus in Venice, California will open its doors in April, with limited evening hours starting on April 7 before expanding into daily lunch service in May. The Propagator is located at 3205 Washington Boulevard near the corner of Washington and Lincoln.

Published in Beer News
Friday, 18 March 2016 22:16

Get Crafty This Baseball Season!

I recently rented out my room through AirBNB to a Smog City Brewery employee.  Located in Torrance, the five-year-old brewery quickly developed a cult following for its quality crafted and flavorful beers. 

This wasn’t coincidental and I was giddy when he brought a dozen of their delicious stouts, IPAs and sours.  That same weekend, I stayed in La Quinta at Jim Lefebvre’s house.  Yep, I sipped on some Hoptonic IPA with a baseball legend.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog
Wednesday, 16 March 2016 23:16

Firkfest 3.0 Arrives in Anaheim on Saturday!

Get ready for the premier Cask Festival in Southern California, Firkfest 3.0!

  • 30 Breweries
  • 50 Casks
  • 4 Hours
  • Unlimited Pours
Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience returns for 2016 with an amazing line up of bands, wine and brews.

Live music, California craft beer and wine will create a backdrop in Indio at the scenic Empire Polo Club. This year, 311, Matisyahu, Dream Club, Insecure Alex, The Bellrays, and Long Duk Dong are joining 21 wineries and 48 breweries in Indio for the 5th annual Rhythm Wine & Brews Festival.

Kevin Olsen runs Adam’s Bottle Boutique in Redondo Beach and is the RWB beer curator. 

“This year, we have more unique selection of breweries, some a little less mainstream, so some smaller breweries – more artisanal and craft driven.  Last year, we definitely took a step in that direction.

Belching Beaver came out this year.  Strand Brewing, Ritual Brewing which is a little closer -  a local Inland Empire brewery.  Those are new additions this year…Bells is coming out to the California distribution scene.”  

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And lucky for us, Alpine is getting their toes wet in Riverside County for the first time.

Find out more about the breweries that will be rockin’ this year’s Rhythm Wine & Brews.

  • 10 Barrel Brewing: Darling favorite in Oregon and multiple Great American Beer Festival Winner medal winner. They have brewpubs in Boise, Portland and Bend. 10 Barrel’s main working brewery is also located in Bend. 
  • Anchor Brewing Company: This brewery is dripping with history. Anchor began during the California Gold Rush.  Anchor Brewing were the first to produce steam beer, effervescent beer now labeled California common beer. Anchor is the only steam brewing company still in operation. 
  • Ace Cider: Did you know cider is fantastic to cook with? Use Ace cider in place of champagne to lighten up your dishes.  Try Ace Apple with your next pork dish!
  • Ballast Point: This San Diego brewery is a homebrewers fairytale come true. Founder Jack White opened Home Brew Mart in 1992, after wanting more quality and unique brewing ingredients as a homebrewer. Ballast Point opened their “back room” brewery behind the shop in 1996. They are now brewers of the deliciously famous Grapefruit Sculpin. And in November, the UCLA students, turned brewery owners sold to Constellation Brands for $1 billion. 
  • Sierra Nevada: Ken Grossman, the Godfather of craft, opened a homebrew supply store in Chico in 1976. He purchased whole cone hops from Yakima hop brokers directly and began brewing his now infamous hop-forward beers. He launched Sierra Nevada Brewing three years later.
  • Green Flash Brewing:  Green Flash opened Cellar 3 last year, a new tasting room and specialty brewing facility in Poway. The facility focuses on innovation through barrel-aging and wild yeast experimentation.  When not sipping something sour, try their Soul Style American IPA.  Citra, Simcoe and Cascade hops are layered, giving it tropical and sherbert flavors. It’s a perfect warm weather beer. 
  • Breckenridge Brewery: Colorado’s third craft brewery began at the hands of a ski bum homebrewer in 1990. Today, you can find their beers in 32 states. And in true outdoorsy form, the brewery put nitro in cans late last year. What’s better than craft in a can and a nitro tap?  Yep, Breckenridge’s new line of nitrogen-carbonated canned beer. Their Nitro Series in four-packs started with Nitro Vanilla Porter and Nitro Lucky U IPA.
  • Three Weavers Brewing Company: The female-run brewery is Los Angeles’ second successfully funded brewery Kickstarter campaign. Brewmaster, Alexandra Nowell was the former lead brewer at Drakes and won two GABF bronze medals for her Session beer and German-Style Kolsch while brewmaster at Kinetic Brewing Company in Lancaster.
  • Goose Island Brewing: Goose Island's brands are sold in 24 states and parts of Europe thanks to the Anheuser-Busch InBev deal in 2011. While craft beer geeks across the country cried in their beers over the deal, their Bourbon County Stout has remained world class.
  • Coachella Valley Brewing Company: CVB, as we locals like to call them, answers the call for a bigger selection of sophisticated and modern beers here in the valley. Head brewmaster and part owner, Chris Anderson, is also a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage Culinary program.  Using unique fruits and spices, Anderson brews using local ingredients. CVB started a sour program in 2015 and their Profligate Society features sours like the Cabernet barrel aged Epineux Poire prickly pear wild ale.
  • New Belgium Brewing: This is one of the coolest breweries on the planet.  The New Belgium folks not only advocate for beer, they advocate for the planet. They are so sustainable; they became a Certified B Corporation in 2013. Tour de Fat is New Belgium’s traveling party of all thinks bicycle. In every Tour de Fat city, one awesome role model will step on stage to trade in his or her car keys and pledge to live car free for one year. Oh, and the brewery is now 100% employee owned. 
  • Black Market Brewing: Black Market launched the craft movement in Temecula’s wine country. They recently brewed a Rum Matured Deception with Pineapple on cask. The “normal” Deception is a coconut lime blonde ale. Black Market releases a new beer on Cask Night every Monday.RWBEXP15 0130-resize
    Lost Coast: Lost Coast began its humble beginnings in 1990, in a 100-year-old castle in Eureka, California. Barbara Groom, a pharmacist turned homebrewer, now owns the 43rd largest craft brewery in the U.S., distributing in 22 states, three Canadian Providences, Puerto Rico, Australia, Costa Rica, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and France!  Have a friend who hasn’t turned to craft yet?  Give them a pint of Great White – they may just turn to craft yet.
  • Founders Brewery: If you haven’t fallen in love with Founders, you don’t have a heart.  This brewery is ranked in the top breweries in the world by for the last five years. If you haven’t tried their Breakfast Stout, you haven’t lived.
  • Speakeasy Ales and Lager: Speakeasy hales from San Francisco. Last year, a new 60 barrel brewhouse, malt handling system, fermenters, centrifuge and canning line were installed. Production capacity increased to 90,000 barrels per year.
  • Bootleggers Brewery: Orange County craft beer darlings, Bootleggers was established in 2008 by husband and wife Aaron and Patricia Barkenhagen. They brew the popular Mint Chocolate Porter, perfect to sip during the holidays.
  • Firestone Walker Brewing Co.: I can’t say enough good things about Firestone. And neither could GABF last year.  Firestone took a silver for their Feral One in the Belgian-Style Lambic or Sour Ale category. They also brought home two bronzes for their Hammersmith IPA in the English-Style India Pale Ale category and their Sour Opal in the Wood and Barrel-Aged Sour Beer categories. Then, Firestone was awarded golds for their Pivo in the German-Style Pilsener and their DBA in the Ordinary or Special Bitter categories.  So, it only made sense that they were awarded the Mid-Size Brewing Company and Mid-Size Brewing Company Brewer of the Year award.
  • Bell’s Brewery: Bell’s was founded by Larry Bell as a home brewing supply shop in 1983. They ranked eighth in total volume of all domestic craft brewers in the U.S. for 2010.
  • Barley Forge Brewery: They were recently awarded “Best Brewery” in the OC Weekly in 2015.  Barley Forge specializes in Belgian, West Coast and German-style beers.
  • Brew Rebellion: This brewery is true to its name. Brew Rebellion brews beer in quantities of 30 to 50 gallons at a time. That means an awesome rotating tap list and more specialty beers.
  • Coedo Brewery: Japan: Coeda beers are named after five classic Japanese hues. Coeda honors traditions. The brewers allow the first sip of beer to fall to the ground, from the tanks, as a tribute to the brewmasters who came before them. They’ve won awards in the World Beer Cup, European Beer Star and International Taste & Quality Institute. Their mission? Beer beautiful.
  • Einstock Brewing: is located just 60 miles south of the Arctic circle in the fishing port of Akureyri, Iceland. All Einstök beers are 100% vegan, with no GMOs.
  • Clown Shoes: Funny name, great beer. The craft beer industry is a fun bunch and produces amazing beer, all while being a little crazy. One example is their American Black Ale dubbed “Lubrication.” The label features a robot at a gas station holding a pump handle in his groin vicinity. Fun tidbit: the artist is a woman. And the Clown Shoes story isn’t your typical one. This brand came as a result of a liquor store loving beer so much that the owner decided to brew a line of their own. Clown Shoes contract brews through Mercury Brewing Company in Massachusetts. 
  • Hangar 24 Craft Brewery: At the end of a dusty road, with the San Bernardino Mountains serving as a backdrop; Hangar 24 is named after the hangar where owner Ben Cook—a licensed pilot—and his friends would relax after a day of flying. Fun fact: Hangar 24’s main brew house came by way of Las Vegas’ Monte Carlo Casino.
  • Pizza Port Brewing: Pizza Port serves delicious craft beer in Solana Beach, Carlsbad, San Clemente and Ocean Beach. Each of Pizza Port’s four San Diego County brewpubs won at least one GABF medal last year. The original Solana Beach location won Great American Beer Festival “Small Brewpub of the Year” in 2003. In 2009, they won nine medals at GABF and the Carlsbad location was named “Large Brewpub of the Year.”  Simply, Pizza Port rocks.
  • Mission Brewery: Mission Brewery was originally established in 1913. See Acoustic Ales below. Like most breweries of the time, they went out of business during the first year of Prohibition. The revived Mission Brewery is now in the East Village in downtown San Diego in the historic Wonder Bread Building. As I always say, beer is food.
  • King Harbor Brewing Company: was the first production brewery in Redondo Beach. Last June they opened the Waterfront Tasting Room, joining Los Angeles craft beer bar icon, Naja’s Place, on the International Boardwalk.
  • Belching Beaver Brewing: This is a dog friendly brewery in North Park, San Diego. Their Beavers Milk, Milk Stout took a gold medal at the World Beer Championships in 2014 and 2015. Their Dammed! Double IPA also took a gold at the World Beer Championships in 2014. 

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  • Strand Brewing: Torrance’s first production brewery has grown so much since 2009, it moved to Old Torrance last October.  Now, Strand Brewing, Monkish Brewing, The Dudes Brewing and Smog City Brewing are all within walking or a short Uber ride distance from each other. Cool.
  • Deschutes Brewing: Deschutes is awesome and it’s family owned and operated. They even set up an employee stock ownership program in 2013 so employees can own a percentage of the company. If you try anything from Deschutes, try The Abyss. It’s a world class, 12% ABV imperial stout.
  • Alpine Brewing: You probably already know Green Flash and Alpine merged in 2014. Green Flash is about 20 times larger than Alpine. Apine’s IPA popularity couldn’t meet the demand. Now they can. 
  • Angel City Brewing: Angel City has a special place in my heart. When I first started writing about beer in 2008, I met Michael Bowe, the founder of Angel City.  He’s since sold it and is sailing around the world.  But it continues to thrive in downtown Los Angeles, bringing old-world craft brewing to the new expanding Arts District.  
  • Ironfire Brewing Company: John Maino and Greg Webb met at Ballast Point in San Diego and decided to start their own brewery in Temecula. Ironfire was born in 2012.
  • Barrelhouse Brewing Co.: BarrelHouse not only has fantastic beers (& sours!), but beautiful views from their inviting Central Coast patio. They just announced their 2016 Curly Wolf. This Maple Vanilla Bourbon Barrel-Aged Russian Imperial Stout has been a crowd favorite in Paso.
  • Rock Brothers Brewing: Music and beer are this brewery’s mantra. Creating custom brews for bands is their focus. And no surprise, they (along with Nebraska Brewing Company and Cigar City Brewing) made 311’s Amber Ale beer possible.
  • La Quinta Brewing They opened their doors in the fall of 2013 in the Coachella Valley. And after much success and popularity, they recently opened a brewpub in Old Town La Quinta.
  • Elysian Brewing: Elysian was founded in Seattle in 1995. Try their Avatar Jasmine IP brewed with died jasmine flowers.
  • Golden Road Brewing: All of their beers are delivered in cans. Canned beers stay fresher longer without light oxidation and they are better for the environment. Anheuser-Busch Inbev acquired Los Angeles’ largest craft brewer last September.
  • Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewhouse: The Rancho Mirage BBQ restaurant and brewhouse was founded by the Marie Callender’s founder, Don Callender. Don had a passion for craft beer and opened two small breweries in 1998 and 1999.  Babe’s later opened in April of 2002. In 2014, their Belgian Vanilla Blonde Ale took a gold at the Great America Beer Festival.
  • Acoustic Ales Brewing Experiment: Acoustic started brewing in 2012. But the building that houses their brew has over 100 years of American brewing history. The original facility housed Mission Brewery, which operated before Prohibition.
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Company: Strauss was former vice president of production and reached Master Brewer at Pabst Brewing Company. He, Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner started the first-ever brew pub in San Diego in 1989. It was the first brewery of any type to operate in San Diego since 1953.
  • Lagunitas Brewing Company: The brewery that brews in Northern California and Chicago sold a 50% stake to Heineken last September in an effort to expand the brand globally. 
  • Reverand Nat’s Hard Cider Rev Nat West started making cider in his basement and in the spirit of craft beer geeks, grew it to a business that now distributes in five states.
  • Ritual Brewing Company: Redlands brewery founded by Owen Williams and Steve Dunkerken. Williams is the former Brewing Operations Director of BJ’s Brewhouse and Restaurants and teaches Beer & Culture at California Polytechnic University in Pomona. Dunkerken is a Redlands native and long time homebrewer.

Want an extra hour of unlimited tastings from these amazing craft breweries?  You’ll want to check out the Friday night Bottle Share & Kick-off Party. Held on March 4th, the Bottle Share event is open to Rhythm, Wine & Brews Experience VIP ticket holders, Sponsors and Press. Make sure you brink one or two 22oz of awesome craft beer to share. 

So, what about the headliner? 311’s name originates from the police code for indecent exposure in Omaha, Nebraska, after the original guitarist for the band was arrested for streaking. As of 2011, 311 has sold over 8.5 million records in the US. Never has running around naked in Nebraska proved this profitable. While 311 has called L.A. home for years, the band is orginally from Omaha.  With collaboration from the band members and a local brew partner, Rock Brothers partners with fellow Florida brewery, Cigar City on all its bands beers. It's no wonder award winning Nebraska Brewing Company was chosen as the local brew partner to brew the 311 Amber Ale.


“Choosing bands from a variety of genres makes our event appeal to a broad audience,“ said Alex Haagen, IV, producer of the Rhythm, Wine and Brews Experience. “Reggae always draws a big, happy crowd. We added rock, a dash of blues and some funk and think we have an impressive show that everyone will enjoy.” He added, “We’ve woven together live music, craft beer and wine tasting, a variety of amazing food offerings, colorful art installations, circus performers and an incredible venue to create a real ‘experience.’ Come on out and have a great time!”

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Some beerand wine drinkers have the silly idea that you must be loyal to one beverage or style. Let me introduce myself. My name is Erin Peters, and I am a cross drinker.  

And I’m not the only one. 

A visit to California’s Central Coast is a perfect time to compare some of the world’s best artisan beers and wines. I recently took a drive up to Paso Robles and further north to the Monterey area to find out what craft beers wine experts turn to. 

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog

Technically summer was still two weeks away, but in Southern California the seasons are mostly irrelevant, and so it was under a sunny sky and with temperatures in the 80s that the Casa Pacifica Wine, Food, and Brew Festival opened. This annual event, now in its 22nd year, brings together restaurants, caterers, wineries, brewers, and hedonists ready to indulge their appetites with a clear conscience. Casa Pacifica provides services to families and children in crisis, including abused and neglected children and families dealing with emotional and behavioral problems, with programs serving the Central Coast region. In one day this event would raise almost half a million dollars to support this worthy cause.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog
Wednesday, 09 September 2015 00:00

Mad River Brewing Announces New CEO

Blue Lake, CA – Mad River Brewing Company is excited to announce that Tom Del Sarto has joined their team as CEO. Del Sarto comes to Mad River with over 35 years of experience in the beer business. He began his career at Coors West Distributing on the San Francisco peninsula working his way up to Vice President/Managing Partner before transitioning his team to South Bay Beverage, the Miller/Coors distributorship in Santa Clara County.

Del Sarto is replacing Charlie Jordan, who has accepted a leadership position with a virtually located company that allows her more flexibility to spend time with family. “It is a very exciting time at Mad River right now,” said Ms. Jordan. “I am grateful to the owners for trusting me to lead the company through several changes including the completion of a brand refresh.”

For the past eight years, Del Sarto has provided consulting services to the beverage industry with a focus on the craft beer segment and distribution. On his decision to take the helm at one of California’s first craft breweries, Del Sarto states, “Mad River has a great product and great people. I feel that my experience on both the distributor and supplier side can help grow the business in the evolving craft beer market.”

Recent growth at the award-winning brewery also includes the addition of a kitchen to the Mad River Tap Room. The popular brew pub offers a family friendly environment with a variety of tasty cuisine for all ages, and local bands are featured on most nights. The outside beer garden welcomes pets and offers plenty of sunshine to enjoy your Mad River brew with family and friends.

About Mad River Brewing Company:

Built in Humboldt County in 1989, Mad River is an award-winning craft brewery and one of the first in California. Their distinct ales are renowned for their unique flavor profile and consistent quality. Their flagship brand, Steelhead Extra Pale Ale, and their John Barleycorn Barleywine have received gold medals at The Great American Beer Festival (GABF), the industry’s most prominent award. In 2010, Mad River Brewery was select as the “Small Brewery of the Year” by the GABF. The brewery produces a broad array of beer styles and flavor profiles.

Published in Beer News

San Diego is world renowned for producing amazingly high quality beer that has encouraged new comers to be creative and push beer style limits to new heights.

San Diego’s legacy breweries like Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Co., Ballast Point, Green Flash Brewing Company and AleSmith Brewing Company have a stellar reputation for brewing consistently great craft beers over nearly a century, collectively.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog
Wednesday, 24 June 2015 02:42

Pucker Up: The Sour Resurgence has Arrived

Driven by nature’s unpredictability and culinary expression, experienced brewers are adapting traditional European techniques to bring bursts of intentionally tart and tangy flavors in beers as luminous as an autumn sunset.

In the mid-nineteenth century, back when beer was aged and shipped in wooden barrels, before the advent of refrigeration, nearly all beer was – on some levels - sour.

Practicing patience and an artful curiosity, sours can take up to two to three years to produce. But the wait is worth its weight in golden, deep amber and coppery-orange colored beers.

All hail Pediococcus, Lactobacillus, and Brettanomyces. The remarkable flavors in sour ales can be attributed to these wild yeast strains.

With bright flavors and carbonated mouthfeels of champagne and lemonade, these rising stars of the beer world are perfect for warmer months.

Just a couple hours south of the Coachella Valley, sour specialists, Lost Abbey Brewery, hand bottles every sour beer, eight bottles at a time. Their 2015 Framboise de Amorosa is coming out in July. In northern California, Russian River ages each batch of beer in a specific type of wine barrel (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon). And over in the Great Lakes region, Jolly Pumpkin is the only brewery that ages every beer.IMG 9229-edit

While Lost Abbey, Russian River and Jolly Pumpkin have been wreaking sensory havoc for over 30 years collectively, the following Southern California breweries are helping to lead the sour resurgence, on varying and awesomely quirky levels.

The Bruery: A Chat with Benjamin Weiss

Benjamin is The Bruery’s Marketing Director and the brewery’s second ever employee. The Bruery just celebrated their 7th year in May.

Benjamin became a professional brewer at The Bruery in 2008, just two years after starting to homebrew in Los Angeles. He eventually became the brewer on the infamous Black Tuesday.

EP: What’s your background brewing sours?

BW: I just drank them. Brewing them is pretty much the same as anything, you’re just fermenting slightly differently...most of our sours are aged in a used wine barrel, most of them nowadays, actually, primary fermentation starts in an oak barrel, then we rack into smaller oak barrels.

EP: Do you have any particular favorite wineries you like to get your barrels from?

BW: No, as far as the sour beers, we get the barrels from wineries, but we’re really using a neutral barrel. We clean them out…so as long as they’re newer, solid barrels, we’re happy with them. (pic: Cambria Griffith courtesy The Bruery)KQLynM6DA64MrDYbT4ytTyIklHOg809XebfgOnIqxd8ZqOdDM5KX4r9srgx-h0qmNIOO RIgoMaEt fKKlq BAzp12P9sBLw4TL4ALz2R8a35R2zzLjGCLr8OeKO1eFmg

EP: What do you love about sours?

Wow, that’s a good question. I don’t know. I’ve loved sours since I’ve first tried them back in my homebrew meeting about 10 years ago. I don’t know, there’s just something, when you have a good sour, there’s something complex and delicious about it. Like most of our sours are not purely lactic fermentation. They’re not just one note. It’s hard to describe, it’s almost a clean sour taste...also the funkiness that you can get from different strains of Brett that comes with time. Sometimes it takes quite a bit of time…I find them just fascinating.

EP: What do you think of the resurgence, or popularity of sours?

BW: Yeah. It’s crazy. I was just commenting to one of my coworkers that, we were at some festival, that five years ago, every single person that came up to you, you had to explain what a sour beer was…now almost everyone walks up and says, ‘oh you have a sour beer?’. It’s completely the opposite. At least with the beer crowd. It’s still a very, very small segment of beer. But within the craft beer aficionado community, it’s increasingly more popular.

EP: What are some of your favorites from The Bruery and why?

BW: One of my favorites we make is Rueuze, our kind of Gueuze style…it’s gotten a little bit better every year. It has that funky character that I like.

Gueuze is a type of lambic made by blending young (1-year-old) and old (2- to 3-year-old) lambics, which is then bottled for a second fermentation.

Rueuze is a blend of their sour blonde ale from several of their oak barrels, some of which have been aging several months, some several years. Notes of apricots, peach, lemon and bright barnyard funk flavors come through – perfect for summer. The Bruery Terreux suggests pairing it with smoked salmon with fresh goat’s cheese. I definately agree with that.

EP: What are some of your upcoming plans?

BW: We’re launching a tasting room for Bruery Terreux [in Anaheim] hopefully at the end of this year, if not early next year. And we’re just going full steam ahead. Coming out soon, we’ve got a Jester King collaboration and a Prairie collaboration at Terreux.

Bruery Terreux is a new-ish brand, loosely translating to “Earthy Bruery” in French. Developed by Patrick Rue of The Bruery, it’s a new space that focuses solely on their farmhouse-style ales fermented with the wild yeasts. (pic: Cambria Griffith courtesy The Bruery)6t6pTBfZCwsRzd9qkbOXOWiZn1FkmDXq5dHYCGToYC02b7G8 SjHKar4IgyQUFZIhsIGbGfUKMjz9n1cU8WlcAO7jI5btJClPXB-Sm-AQQc estMAFbPbsUu7ch20bRZo

The Jester King collaboration will be coming out in about two months.

Firestone Walker: A Brewery in Wine Country

The “accidental” story of Barrelworks is a beautifully tasty one. The story of renegade brewers Matt Brynildson,“Sour Jim” and Jeffers Richardson has grown from its humble beginnings in 2005 to over 1,500 barrels, just south of Paso Robles, in Buellton.

Jeffers is the Director of Barrelworks (aka “Barrelmeister”).

EP: What’s your fascination with sours?

JR: I love how it contributes depth and complexity to beer. Acidity ads a whole new dimension of flavor to beer…and plays teasingly with wild yeast and oak, when those components are involved.

EP: How long have you been experimenting with sours?

JR: My palate has been experimenting with acidified beers since 1985, when I lived in Brussels and first tried them. But I didn’t become comfortable with wild beer production until I teamed up with Jim. I'm old school. I was indoctrinated in the ways of clean beer practices. Once we were given our own padded room [facility], and the inmates were allowed to run it, I was more comfortable. Jim, on the other hand has been a certifiable experimenter of sours for some time.

Masterblender, Jim Crooks – aka Sour Jim- started making wild beers in local wine barrels. This innovative and unprecedented barrelhouse is the birth house of several of the wildly coveted beers being poured annually at the Firestone Walker Invitational Beer Festival, held every May.

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What does "Sour Jim" love about sours?

My main love for sours stem from our choice to embrace the funk, and more importantly, the continuous learning curve that is brought about by the use of Brettanomyces and acid forming bacteria in our products.  Using these agents to produce truly unique beers constantly test the theory of how fermentation, barrel aging, and flavor/aroma of each strain can be so wildly unpredictable and unique.

Their Agrestic (2014) is based on Fireston's original flagship beer, Double Barrel Ale, or DBA, which then underwent a “chrysalis” process involving 87% French and 13% American Oak barrels and a proprietary collection of micro flora. It spends 14 months there. This sour leans towards the punker, tropical and oaky side of things and is brewed with B. lambicus, L. lindneri and L. brevis. The nose and taste bring citrus along with a gorgeous mix of coconut, vanilla and spice.

According to Jeffers, the acidity in a beer should enhance and support other aspects of the beer.

“We want to build layers of complexity.”

Sour Opal is an American Gueuze style with a Titratable Acidity (T.A.) of 6.6 g/L. You’ll notice on the Firestone Walker Barrelworks labels this acidity, which is something that currently, no other brewery divulges. With their home in wine country, Firestone Walker has adapted traditions and techniques from their winery friends.

La Piccola is a new collaborative cross-continental dark Saison that was featured at the Firestone Walker Beer Invitational in May. The collaboration between brewmasters Agostino Arioli of Birrificio Italiano and Matt Brynildson of Firestone Walker resulted in two very similar beers. Agostino brewed his version with Sichuan peppercorns, sourced directly from a spice hunter in Italy.IMG 5391-edit

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Bretta Weisse will be in bottles July 25th. Agrestic and Krieky Bones will be available August 22nd. And the wild brewers also have a Hood River Strawberry Saison in the works.IMG 2389-edit

Coachella Valley Brewing: Pucker Up in the Desert

Chris Anderson has been brewing up his sour program in Thousand Palms over the past year.

EP: What sours are on tap now?

On tap now is the Peche, an American wild ale with locally grown white peaches and pediococcus, lactic and multiple Brettanomyces cultures. Tasters are $3 and there’s only one keg left.

Also pick up a bottle of the special Framboys, wild ale brewed with raspberries and boysenberries. It's decedent.IMG 5382-edit

EP: When did you start this, or think about starting to brew sours?

CA: We immediately started getting into that mode when we had the capacity to store that type of a beer. We got a bunch of tanks dedicated just for making sour beers. That was probably about a year ago. That was kind of the inception of the first couple sour bases that we use to make a couple different beers with a batch of different fruits.

EP: How many tanks?

CA: We have three right now. We immediately made a sour base which is your run of the mill wheat beer and used some really old hops, which is typical of sour beers. You want to use old, cheesy, skanky hops, rather than the real aromatic ones. You don’t want that to shine through in the beer. We aged it away, we use a special flora. We have an onsite laboratory here that we can do micro – we built our own culture, that we inoculate all the barrels with, as well as the wort.

And the sour program at CVB is taking off. Anderson even hinted they might be expanding their sour program – outside of their current space – in the near future.

Their new Profligate Society will feature upcoming sours, Cabernet barrel aged Epineux Poire prickly pear wild ale, Cabernet barrel aged Cassis Noir black currant sour ale and Cabernet barrel aged Flame Rouges wild ale. Less than 500 bottles of each beer will be released to Profligate members.IMG 5374-edit

CA: We have the Flame Rouges, brewed with red vine raisons and red flame grape juice. That’s fermenting in the barrel now. We’ll be releasing it late this year, probably Fall…we’ve got a guava one fermenting, too.

EP: What do you love about sours?

"I don’t know, it’s kind of mysterious ya’ know? A little unorthodox. It’s the opposite of everything you’re told as a brewer, even the way the mash is done. The long aging, and you still may not get really high quality results…and it’s all about blending too."

And Anderson has blending experience, having won homebrew medals for his sours, before becoming a commercial brewer. He would sweep these categories in competitions.

Hangar 24 – New Sours are Landing

Hangar’s new sours First Crush and Sanguinello are launching this Saturday.

"First Crush" is a Sour Red Ale aged in red wine barrels with Syrah grape juice, there will be 2,300 bottles. The addition of Syrah grape juice after primary fermentation adds vinous, tannic notes of red wine, ripe fruit and leather.e2e2453d-dd2e-4493-a1b4-1116c6b153c9
“Sanguinello” is a sour blonde aged in white wine barrels with blood orange juice. They squeezed the juice of blood oranges into Sauvignon Blanc barrels, which held nine and eighteen month old sour blonde ale. There will be only 1,200 bottles. (Hangar pix: Hanger 24 Brewery)99b5cb0c-0167-47a9-8eda-3d6ab7b04699

When venturing into your sour quest, don’t miss out on the much-revered Cantillon Brewery, Drie Fonteinen, Allagash Brewing, Side Project, Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, Cascade Brewing, Almanac Beer Co., The Rare Barrel or Mikkeller.

While sours still make up a relatively small portion of the craft beers that are available, they are becoming more and more prevalent - in small batches. 

Sours are brewers way of coloring outside the lines. Get funky and join the wild, wild yeast of the beer world.

Published in The Beer Goddess Blog
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