Wild Heaven Fest Beer returns for a 6th time (if our drinking memory serves us well) this weekend.
A few years ago, brewery co-founder Eric Johnson debuted Autumn Defense, a creative rendition of the popular fall lager. In that case, [Defense] was actually ale, with “pronounced bright citrus flavors, brewed heavy-handedly with Munich malt.” A festbier in spirit, but as Johnson admits – not very traditional. “You’re not a brewer if you’re not experimenting I guess,” Johnson once told us. “It doesn’t always work out.”
Wild Heaven Fest Beer follows a much more traditional path since its inception. Fest Beer now is true marzen lager, officially leaving the idea of an “ale festbier” behind for good. To get here, tweaks to the recipe (and yeast) had to happen.
Johnson used Gungeist hops in years 1 and 2 of this release – a European hop of Hallertauer parentage. These hops did make a good lager, but ultimately traditional brewing just wins out. (Another revelation that happened, later, the Gungeist hop flavor wasn’t the same 4 weeks later.)
These days, the lager is brewed completely with classic Noble hops from Germany.
The path from Autumn Defense to Fest Beer was a journey unto itself. What fest beer is today is quickly becoming a fall tradition for Wild Heaven and their fans.
Wild Heaven Fest Beer is available on draft and 12-ounce cans seasonally starting this week.
Availability: 12oz Cans, Draft.
Latest Return: August 2023
Image: Beer Street Journal