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Almanac Farmer's Reserve Pluot

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If you've been following along, and you should be, you'd know that the tiny San Francisco brewery Almanac has been doing this local Farm to Barrel thing for quite some time now, incorporating uber-fresh locally sourced fruits and produce into their barrel aged sours. They've steadily been picking up steam and many an admirer - including me, even though I'm about 3000 miles away.

This one is made with Pluots, that unholy crossbreed of plums and apricots. Chuck several varieties of that mutant fruit (each of which has a fantastic, evocative name: Dapple Dandy, Honey Punch, Flavor Queen, Black Kat & Dapple Jack) into some old wine barrels along with Almanac's house "Dogpatch" sour culture (a mix of American and Belgian yeasts, along with some other critters, like a San Francisco sourdough starter). The result is quite a fine sour ale, if I may say so:

Almanac Farmers Reserve Pluot

Almanac Farmer's Reserve Pluot - Pours a cloudy but bright, luminous straw yellow color with a finger of white head and good retention. The smell is very funky, some oak, lots of fruit, and something I can't quite place. The taste is beautiful, lots of tart fruit character, peaches, plums and the like. Some oak in the middle, finishing up with a fruit juice spritz. The sourness is there, especially in the finish, but it's far from overpowering. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, juicy, light and crisp, with a small acidic note from the sourness. Overall, this is a fantastic little sour beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (375 ml capped). Drank out of a flute on 6/14/14. Batch FR-P. Bottled 031414.

This is my favorite Almanac beer yet, not that I've managed to wrangle that many of them. I am, however, fortunate enough to have another waiting in the wings, so you'll be hearing more about Almanac soon enough. Indeed, I've been on something of a sour jag of late, a consequence more of availability than anything else, but I ain't complaining.

Almanac Bière De Mars

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Made with real, 100% Heirloom Organic Martians from a small artisanal farm in Cydonia. Some people frown on using sentient beings as an ingredient in beer and those wacky brewers at Almanac may be starting a war of the worlds, but damn, this stuff tastes good!

In all seriousness, Bière De Mars is brewed in March, which is actually what "Mars" translates to. It's a variation on the Bière de Garde style, which means "beer worth keeping" (or guarding, heh) and were historically brewed in Winter or Spring for consumption in Late Summer or Fall (due to the fact that brewing was difficult during the hot months of summer). In that sense, I feel like Bière De Mars shares a certain kinship with the German Märzen (aka Oktoberfest), and it feels like they both have a similar character of slightly toasted malts and noble hops, though Bière De Mars also uses a Belgian ale yeast strain which is what really distinguishes this from Märzens.

This particular beer is made by those tiny artisanal brewers at Almanac, and like most of their beers, it was a one-off batch that was brewed in collaboration with local farms, this time using Santa Clara Valley Fennel. This marks the last beer in my first beer trade, so extra special thanks to Jay of the most excellent Beer Samizdat blog for digging up such gems (seriously, all of the stuff he sent me was in the great to sublime range of quality)...

Almanac Biere de Mars

Almanac Spring 2012 Bière De Mars - Pours a slightly hazy golden orange color with a finger of fluffy white head that shows pretty good retention and lacing. Smells of bready Belgian (apparently French) yeast along with sorta herbal spices (apparently fennel!) and even some of that caramelized malt. Tastes sweet, with assertive spicing and a sorta nutty, caramelly character in the start, maybe a hint of toasted malt flavor too. It's reminiscent of an Oktoberfest beer, but with more spicy Belgian character. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, medium carbonation, easily drinkable, with a drier finish than I'd expect. Overall, this is excellent, well balanced, flavorful stuff. So glad I got to try some! A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of a tulip glass on 10/26/12. Label sez: 05540 March 2012.

So Almanac has definitely established a foothold in Kaedrin mindshare, which is a bit of a problem since they don't really distribute here, but I'm hoping I can beg, borrow, or steal some more at some point. Wish me luck.

Almanac Winter Wit

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Meet Almanac Beer Company, a tiny Northern California brewery specializing in seasonal ales brewed with local ingredients. Up until recently1, this meant the brewery produced only one-off beers, one per season. In a world where it seems most breweries boast a portfolio of 50+ beers, it's kinda refreshing to see a brewery that makes one beer per season, period. They're apparently contract brewers, but their reputation seems more like that of a gypsy brewer. In other words, they have a pretty darn good reputation.

Of course, being a local-obsessed brewery has its drawbacks, namely that it's only really available locally... but thanks to the magic of beer trades, I got my greedy little hands on their 2012 offerings. So a tip of the hat to Jay from Beer Samizdat, who I must admit, is the one who got me interested in this brewery and their awesome, classy labels long before the trade ever came up. This particular beer is their Winter offering, a Belgian style Wit brewed with three varieties of early-season oranges and a helping of ginger root. Now, one doesn't typically think of this style when talking about Winter beers, but on the other hand, at 7% ABV, it's certainly heftier than most examples of the style (without going overboard).

Also, what the hell, it was August when I ended up drinking it, so it fit in quite nicely as I fired up the home theater system for some action packed adventure in the form of The Raid. I should mention that I'm almost always watching a movie whilst drinking2, but the pairings don't always strike me enough that I want to post about it. In this case, the light, refreshing Wit contrasted rather sharply with the bombastic action, making it a memorable combo. So let's get to it, shall we?

Almanac 2012 Winter Wit

Almanac 2012 Winter Wit - Pours a cloudy straw yellow color with a finger of bubbly head. Nose is filled with wheat and spice, some orange peel or other citrus character. Taste has a moderated sweetness along with all of those spices from the nose (apparently ginger, but I also get the typical Wit notes of coriander and clove) and a well integrated citrus component. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, just a hint of spicy bite, and a relatively light body. This thing doesn't drink like a 7% ABV beer, it reads much lighter to me. This is a good thing, as the other "big" wheat beers I've had get to be overbearing - completely overwhelming the delicate wheat flavors. Overall, this is a well crafted, tasty take on a style that often feels muted. Right up there with my favorite Wit beers...B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml capped). Drank out of tulip glass on 8/18/12. Label sez: 5973 (presumably bottle number), 12.29.2011.

I've also got a bottle of Almanac's Spring 2012 Bière de Mars, which I'll probably be cracking open sometime in September, as the weather starts to chill up a bit.


1 - They've just released their year-round California Table Beers (a saison and pale ale), but I think the focus continues to be on their limited seasonal wonders...

2 - I used to talk about this more often than I do now, with the notable exception of Double Feature posts... which, come to think of it, have been pretty sparse of late. I shall have to rectify that, but at the same time, this is a beer blog, not a movie blog, so I expect that side of things to continue to fall by the wayside, with occasional mentions like the one in this post.

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Hi, my name is Mark, and I like beer.

You might also want to check out my generalist blog, where I blather on about lots of things, but mostly movies, books, and technology.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Almanac category.

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