It was a sweaty, stormy day in Atlanta years ago, even before the build of SweetWater’s wild ale expansion “The Woodlands” was complete, that SweetWater Cambium was born. Brewers Nick Burgoyne and Chris Meadows were transferring wort from the brewery’s number one selling 420 Extra Pale Ale into a stainless steel tank. On any other day, this beer would have been donning the “420” hoppy badge of honor and headed out the door in a matter of weeks. This liquid, however, had a much grander destiny that would take years to complete.
The ever-so-stunning The Woodlands was a drawing on a piece of paper when the brewers and lab biologists at SweetWater started isolating Brettanomyces strains and souring bacteria for the brewery’s wild ale program. On this day, as the thunder boomed over the city, the years of microscopic work were about to pay off. Isolated Brettanomyces strains, along with a Belgian saison yeast and Lactobacillus bacteria were set free in the tank. Nature will handle it from here.
About 8 months later, an American wheat ale base (similar to the now-retired Sch’Wheat Wheat Ale) topped off tank then allowed ferment out before finally being transferred to the brewery’s oak foeders for a full year. Cambium was finally bottled in December and has been conditioning on their House Brett ever since.
A bit like a Robert Frost poem, two roads diverged for that pale ale wort and only one went into the wood(s). This weekend you’ll see it really made all the difference.
Nearly two years in the making, SweetWater Cambium will debut in 500-milliliter bottles on January 27th.
Stone Brewing will debut their first sour/wild ale in December.
For the last two years Stone Brewing – known worldwide for their love of hoppy beers, has been quietly designing a wild ale program. As many breweries across the United States are debuting sour ale programs, Stone seemed content with what they do best. IPAs. As you can imagine, this announcement takes the brewery’s fan base by surprise.
Stone’s Mission Warehouse production facility has been churning out barrel-aged and small-batch beers for some time now. The brewery decided that Mission is home base for future “arrogant” sour ales.
Stone Mission Warehouse Apricot is the inaugural release. The base beer was soured, then blended with barrel-aged barleywine and a strong, highly-hopped tripel. Those two threads were aged on three different strains of Brettanomyces yeast. To top it all off, Stone shoved 500 pounds of peaches into the 4 oak barrels used to age this new release. The process took 18 months to complete.
Stone Mission Warehouse Sour is on sale now through Eventbrite. 4-packs of Apricot must be picked up at Stone’s company store in Escondido, Liberty Station or Pasadena from December 3 through 31st.
Image: Stone Brewing
Billed as the “loftiest sour” they’ve ever crafted, New Belgium Geisha debuts.
There are a lot of elements at play in this La Folie Grand Reserve release. First, the name “Geisha”. It comes from the highly sought after Geisha coffee bean that hails from Ethiopia. It found international fame after the bean was imported to Panama and produced by Hacienda La Esmerelda. The family-run coffee grower submitted the bean to the Best of Panama Auction in 2004, winning first place. The Geisha bean continued to win five more times from 2005 to 2010. Basically, it’s a badass.
New Belgium Wood Cellar Director Lauren Woods Limbach’s vision was to blend the Geisha bean’s delicate aromatics with the brewery’s sour beer Oscar. Incidentally, Oscar is the base beer that is blended into famed La Folie Sour Brown Ale. In order to do so, the brewery needed another “threaded” beer to make Geisha work.
Local Fort Collins-based Troubadour Maltings provided a few special malt varieties for a special beer to thread into Geisha. New Belgium calls is a “smuggler” beer, bringing in the oils needed for beer head retention, bridging the gap between Oscar, and the Geisha bean.
“There’s this apprehension to do right by Geisha. I’ve thought more about this beer than any beer I’ve made in my life. Not just because of the expense of the coffee, but because we’re attempting to put something that doesn’t have the classic coffee aroma—floral, tea, notes of citrus and stone fruit—into a coffee beer. – Lauren Woods Limbach
One of the world’s most exclusive coffee beans, an award-winning wild ale program, and an expert blender come together for what New Belgium hops is a truly unique and bold American wild ale.
New Belgium Geisha is available in 750-milliliter bottles in select markets, and both of the brewery’s taprooms starting November 3rd. There’s a price tag for this kind of sensory experience. A bottle’s retail price is around $48 dollars.
Atlanta’s SweetWater Brewing Company’s first full production foray in to American wild ales happened a few years before their new Woodlands Facility. In 2015 to be precise, with the release of a Brettanomyces yeast heavy Pit & The Pendulum. That beer, brewed with fresh peach puree from South Carolina was so well received that it was made intermittently year-round. This year, a new Pit is coming – SweetWater Cherry Pit & The Pendulum.
Arising from the brewery’snew foudres is SweetWater Cherry Pit & The Pendulum, that has been sitting for over six months on a blend of Montmorency & Balaton cherries. Chris Meadows and Nick Burgoyne, brewers overseeing the Woodlands, started fermentation on Rainy Day Acid Trip (the unofficial name for the base) in stainless steel in July, 016. It was transferred to oak foudres in December, where a blend of Montmorency & Balaton cherries were added to the oak.
The result is a delicate, tart wild ale that almost glows a pinkish-red. While The Woodlands program may be young, after tasting Through the Brambles, Cambium (foudre beer) and Cherry Pit – the word maturity comes to mind. SweetWater, being the biggest craft brewery in the state, doesn’t get the beer geek cred they deserve sometimes. For the past 5+ years, the brewery has put in some serious time internally developing a wild ale program.
Ultimately when comfortable, the brewery pulled the trigger on the wooden palace that is The Woodlands. The brewing team didn’t use their fans as guinea pigs in development. They left much of the triumphs and failures behind closed doors leaving to the public some of the best sour and wild ales the southeast has to offer. This truly is a new era for SweetWater.
A golden ale soured with lactobacillus and fermented with three brettanomyces strains, then aged for 6 months in American and French oak with 3,000 pounds of Montmorency & Balaton cherries. Freshly harvested house brettanomyces was added for bottle conditioning, ensuring evolution in the cellar.
SweetWater Cherry Pit & The Pendulum is a 16.9-ounce corked & caged bottle release.
PIC: Beer Street Journal
This collaborator series has paired seen the likes of Deschutes Brewery, Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project, Firestone Walker, Cigar City, Ommegang, and Orval. Boulevard Collaboration 7 is the first time a two breweries have been a part of the project at the same time.
The trio is creating a “juicy” lager for this seventh iteration, aged briefly on virgin oak. Juicy is an understating term, thanks to peach puree, lemon zest and riesling chosen to compliment carefully selected Nelson Sauvin, Lemondrop and Hallertau Blanc hops. The malt bill is quite complex too, brewed with pale malt, Sonoran White Wheat, Missouri wheat, honey malt and corn grits.
The finished beer is bottle conditioned with champagne yeast, producing an effervescent golden lager perfect for the late summer heat. Last year, Arizona Wilderness and Creature Comforts partnered on “Transmission“, a citrus saison.
Boulevard Collaboration 7 is now available in 12 ounce bottles and draft for a limited time.
Availability: 12oz Bottles, Draft.
Debut: August, 2017
One of America’s strongest imperial stouts Dogfish Head World Wide Stout, will be a bit different when it rolls around again in 2017. This July you’ll be sipping Dogfish Head Oak Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout.
November, as the weather is getting colder, Dogfish Head unleashes World Wide, an imperial stout that usually ranges from 15% to 20% alcohol by volume. The beast has been making a seasonal appearance (almost every year) since 1999. From an off-centered bunch like Dogfish Head, perhaps a change is in order.
Dogfish Head Oak Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout was planned for August, but the brewery has officially announced a July 21st release date. The dark and roasty sipping beer has been aged in 10,000 gallon oak tanks with vanilla beans.
“At Dogfish, our raison d’être is to expand the boundaries of the typical beer experience by creating innovative beers made from fresh ingredients, so we decided to take a new spin on our popular stout by adding tons of whole Madagascar vanilla beans to the recipe. The addition of the beans enhances the coffee and chocolatey notes in the beer which we think our fans will enjoy.” – Sam Calagione, founder & CEO
Dogfish Head Oak Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout debuts in 12-ounce bottles on July 21st. Important to note, due to its high alcohol by volume, not every state in the brewery’s distribution territory will receive this new release.
Image via Dogfish Head
Jester King Atrial Rubicite, the brewery’s highly sought after wild ale with raspberries, returns on July 21st.
This release is the seventh blend of Atrial Rubicite. Jester King adds several hundred pounds of Washington raspberries to oak barrels already containing a mature sour beer and then allowed it to re-ferment.
Washington raspberries were added to mature barrel-aged sure beer and re-fermented to dryness. Unfiltered, unpasteurized, and naturally carbonated.
Jester King Atrial Rubicite was the brewery’s first barrel aged sour beer containing fruit. The 2017 blend also marks the largest release to date. – 8,800 bottles. Customers attending the brewery release this weekend can purchase one of 150 magnum bottles (1.5L/$65) that will be available.
Image: Beer Street Journal