Recently in American Wild Ale Category

Black Project Reheat

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So there was this brewery in Denver called Former Future Brewing. They put out your standard brewery starter kit of beers, like IPAs and porters and whatnot, but they had this top-secret, backroom operation where they were experimenting with capturing native microflora and yeasts by using coolships. Soon enough, beers from this "Black Project" started to take off... so much so that at this point, Former Future is no more, and Black Project has become the heart of the operation.

This particular offering almost symbolically resembles the transition of the brewery. There's a barrel aged sour that is refermented on locally sourced wine grapes called Supercruise... but instead of rinsing and steaming the emptied barrels (as they'd normally do), they simply added freshly coolshipped wort to the Supercruise "dregs", and allow the whole thing to referment and mesh. The result? Pretty tasty stuff, so lets reheat some leftovers and pop the cork on this sucker:

Black Project Reheat

Black Project Spontaneous & Wild Ales Reheat - Pours an almost pinkish hued golden color with a half finger of fizzy white head that is short for this world. Smells nice and musty, funky, vinous fruit, a little oak. Taste is sweet and sour, vinous fruit, oak, and moar sourness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, lowish carbonation, moderate to high acidity. Overall, it's a rock oak aged American wild... with more carbonation, this could rate higher than a B+ but that's where it's at for now...

Beer Nerd Details: 4.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a flute glass on 6/17/17. Bottled on: ? 09 2017 (can't read that first number). Label also has "CF-CS" printed on the front too, not sure what that means.

I had acquired another of Black Project's beers along with this one, but I shared Rocket Sled with some friends so I didn't take detailed notes (it was more sour and better carbed, with a dry hopped kick to it...) and darn, I don't have any of these Black Project beers left... But I'll surely find ways to procure moar of this stuff, because these were good...

de Garde Anianish

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I love pretty much everything I've had from de Garde, but I must admit that I'm starting to get a sorta samey vibe from much of what I've managed to procure. Sure, those fruited Bu variants (especially the imperial ones) are making waves and are obviously diverse in terms of flavor, but there also seems to be an unending series of 5%ish tart saison/American wild hybrids that are delicious, but again, samey. This isn't the worst thing in the world, of course, and making consistent wild ales is an achievement in and of itself. Plus, as I continue to evolve as a beer dork, this sort of consistent, approachable, 5% offering is more appealing than ever. It's just a lot easier to write about something that blows your mind (or the reverse situation of a beer that is a disaster). Blogger problems, bro.

It's probably also worth noting that a low-level trading dilettante like myself doesn't really pull the truly face-melting offerings from these Tillamook ballers. Not that I'm bitter. Which is usually, like, an ironic statement, but I'm genuinely not bitter, because this is some really tasty stuff, and as these things go, it's still in the top tier. It's just that there's not much to say about this wild farmhouse ale aged in oak with unspecified fruit & spices. Except that I've now written a couple of paragraphs about how I don't have much to say, so, um, let's just get to the beer:

de Garde Anianish

de Garde Anianish - Pours a golden orange color with a finger of white head that sticks around for a while. Smells of saison spice and fruity esters, a little bit of oak and funk. Taste is sweet and spicy, with lots of tart, vinous fruit, not quite sour but enough of a bite. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and tasty. Overall, this is some great stuff. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.2% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 6/3/17.

No more De Garde on hand at chez Kaedrin, but I expect more to come my way soon enough. I would like to actually review one of the many Bu variants (the last one I got, I foolishly shared with other people in a setting not conducive to reviewing) and what the hell, maybe someday I'll manage to snag one of those face-melters like Broken Truck...

Four Legs Good

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The name of this beer harkens back to George Orwell's Animal Farm, where the phrase "Four legs good, two legs bad." is used as propaganda that initially helps clarify the animals' goal to be free of human oppression, but which eventually devolves into a meaningless sound bleated by the sheep ("two legs baa-d") that only serves to shut down dissent. As the novel progresses and the needs of the leadership change, the chant is modified to the ironic "Four legs good, two legs better", which sounds similar but obviously means the opposite. Such reversals might sound silly, but this sort of thing happens all the time, even in science. For example, over-the-counter nasal docongestant sprays are effective... for about 3 days. After that, the user's continuing stuffiness and congestion are actually caused by the product itself, something called a rebound congestion.

But I digress. I'm not positive why Sante Adairius named a beer after this infamous quote, but their blurb on the bottle mentions a three-legged dog, so one must assume that there is a rising tide of three-legged dogs plotting revolution in Capitola, California. And I, for one, welcome our new doggo overlords and would like to remind them that as a trusted blogging personality, I can be helpful in rounding up others to toil in their underground bone mines.

And I'm digressing again. The beer itself is labeled a "Belgian-style blonde Quad" (a "made-up beer style") that is fermented in oak puncheons then aged for long periods in oak foudres. As befits the style-defying description, this was originally part of Sante Adairius's 16e series of weird one-offs, but it appears to have graduated to a regular offering. Four Legs Good, three legs better?

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Four Legs Good

Sante Adairius Rustic Ales Four Legs Good - Pours a golden yellow color with a finger of white, bubbly head that sticks around for a bit. Smells nice, fruity and oaky, a little spice in the background. Taste is sweet and spicy, vinous fruit, with oak emerging quickly, followed by some tartness. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated but a little sticky, plenty of booze. Overall, this is one damn fine beer, complex and tasty. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 9.9% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 6/2/17. Batch 2.

Fabulous stuff, as always. I got a small taste of a new(ish) 16e beer called Feeling Ursine (a tart barrel aged brown) that was decent, and I've got another SARA beer on its way. Certainly one of my favorite breweries to snag something from these days...

Logsdon ZuurPruim

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I usually try not to get too worked up about things like a brewery's ownership change or brewer switchups, but it's hard not to be concerned when it's a brewery you really like. At least Logsdon's buyout wasn't coming from a huge multi-national corporation like the great satan, AB Inbev, but it apparently did lead some to some weird PR and distribution mishaps that might shake a beer dork's confidence. That being said, things seem to have calmed down. Their brewer corps has solidified and they seem to have a decent focus on independence and innovation. They've even managed to start a spontaneous fermentation program and have been expanding their barrel aging efforts.

ZuurPruim (literal translation: sourpuss!) is a barrel-aged tart plum ale that first saw release in December of last year. Aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with 100 pounds of plums per barrel, the initial batch was split into two releases, each of which received a small portion of that spontaneously fermented beer for added complexity. In short, Logsdon appears to be back on track.

Logsdon ZuurPruim

Logsdon ZuurPruim - Pours a cloudy, almost murky orange color with a finger of white head that has good retention and leaves a little lacing. Smells fabulous, tons of fruit, those plums coming through, maybe something more vinous too, some oak, and a little bit of earthy funk livening things up too. Taste hits a lot of those notes from the nose, sweet, vinous fruit, plums, a little bit of earth, tart, bordering on sour in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, not as well carbed as accustomed to from Logsdon (there's enough, but this isn't as effervescent as usual), and perhaps as a result, this feels a bit heavier than other offerings, low to medium acidity. Perhaps a bit less attenuation here than usual as well, though nothing outside the boundaries of good. Overall, this is a solid little Plum sour, perhaps not as light on its feet or nimble as something like Peche 'n Brett, but still pretty great on its own. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.4% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 4/22/17. Bottle No. 250. Best by: 11/2021.

Seizoen Bretta remains one of my favorites and something I like to keep around in case anyone stops by, but most of what I've had from Logsdon is great, and it sounds like they're moving in the right direction these days, so I'm sure you'll see more from them someday soon...

La Cabra Aleatory #1

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La Cabra continues to chug along, quickly establishing itself as a regular brewpub on the Kaedrin beat (a position all breweries aspire to, I assure you), and now, as if on cue, they've had their first bottle release. A nice online pre-sell made for a convenient and easy-going release day, no long lines of empty chairs or ridiculous waits here.

I originally thought this was names as some sort of beer pun, like ALE-atory (get it?), but it turns out that aleatory is a real, bona-fide word and everything. It means an object (or form of art) that relies on random elements or a roll of the dice during its production. In this case, we've got an American Wild Ale made with 500 pounds of raspberries that, if the name has any meaning, were probably lucked into at some point. It's then aged in virgin oak for 4 months. While perhaps not the face melter that Brettophile was back in the day, this is a great little initial bottle release.

La Cabra Aleatory 1

La Cabra Aleatory Series #1 - Pours a bright, almost luminous ruby red color with a finger of off white (maybe a little pink?) head. Smells nice, a hint of earthy funk, a kiss of oak, lots and lots of raspberries. Taste has a nice raspberry kick to it, tart but not super sour, again, not a lot of oak or funk here, but enough to balance things out. Mouthfeel is light to medium bodied, dry, low acidity. Overall, a very nice little raspberry ale. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 4/16/17. Bottle No. 204 of 351.

A solid first offering from a brewpub that I expect great things from in the near future. I talked to them about Brettophile, which apparently takes a bit longer to make, but they're thinking maybe late this year for the first release. Until then, I'll just have to keep visiting the taproom...

Rare Barrel Wise Guise

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Another concoction from those barrel jockeys in California, this one takes a golden sour beer and blends it into one of Rare Barrel's other offerings, Ensorcelled (a dark sour with raspberries). I was lucky enough to get a small taste of Ensorcelled a while back, but my only tasting note was "Hnng!" which I think means I loved it. Will this live up to those expectations? Let's see if this guise is as wise as the label claims:

The Rare Barrel Wise Guise

Rare Barrel Wise Guise - Pours a murky reddish brown color with a finger of fizzy, very short-lived head that completely disappears within seconds. Smells of tart raspberries, musty funk, and oak. Taste starts sweet, quickly hitting that oak, then moving into raspberries and a sourness that intensifies through the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, quite acidic but not overly so. Overall, it's another winner from Rare Barrel (if, perhaps, not Ensorcelled-level good). A-

Beer Nerd Details: 5.6% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 2/24/17. Vintage: 2016. Blend No. 038.

Another strong showing, so we'll be on the lookout for more Rare Barrels in the future. In the meantime, we've got a couple of darker offerings on tap for this week, followed by the now annual beer slowdown in which we will be discussing a limited selection of wine, bourbon, tea, and other glorious beverages.

Rare Barrel Shadows Of Their Eyes

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We covered de Garde, a pioneer in the next generation of American sour beer, on Monday. Today, let's take a look at a contemporary located in California. While perhaps not as ambitious as de Garde's all-spontaneous program, these hippies in Berkeley still managed to come up with a novel approach. They limit themselves to sour beers (still somewhat unusual, even in today's landscape) and periodically initiate an extensive search of their barrel house to find the eponymous "Rare Barrel", the finest sour they have aging at the moment. Naturally, that beer is released, but the barrel is then used to inoculate future batches of beer too. Not exactly natural selection, but evolutionary enough, I guess. And the "search party" isn't exactly filled with scrubs. They've had folks like Vinnie Cilurzo of Russian River and Lauren Salazar of New Belgium (both early adopters in American Sour beer). I've managed to snag a few tastes of their stuff and I can attest: This approach works.

Shadows of Their Eyes is a dark sour aged in, yes, oak barrels. The name looks to be a reference to Harry Nilsson's song Everybody's Talkin'... I can't see their faces. Only the shadows of their eyes:

The Rare Barrel Shadows Of Their Eyes

The Rare Barrel Shadows Of Their Eyes - Pours a clear, very dark brown color with ruby highlights, appears almost black, with a half finger of off white head that quickly fizzes out. Smells of dark malts, dark fruit, cherries, oak, and vanilla. Taste is sweet and sour, some dark malt presence, oak, dark fruits, cherries, and did I mention sourness? Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, with a richness associated with barrel aging and moderate to high acidity. Overall, this is a pretty fantastic dark sour. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 2/11/17. Batch 4 (2016).

So we will be seeing more of the Rare Barrel soon enough. Oh yes. Stay tuned.

de Garde Double Feature

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One of the most interesting breweries to open their doors in the past few years, Tillamook, Oregon's de Garde brewing has been making waves in the beer dork community. I got my first taste of their wares at a share last year, their Yer Bu (one of many Berliner Weisse inspired variants) was incredibly nimble at just 2.3% ABV and yet turned out to be one of the highlights of the night. Since then, I've heard enough about these folks to know that they make beer that's worth seeking out.

What makes them so special? While some breweries have worked with spontaneous fermentation (notably Allagash and Jester King, amongst others), it appears that de Garde is the only U.S. brewery to rely solely on spontaneous fermentation for their beer. And what does that mean? They don't use laboratory cultured yeast, they simply cool wort in a coolship, which is basically a huge, wide pan that exposes the wort to naturally occuring yeast and microflora, after which the wort is dumped into oak barrels of varying sizes and left to slumber until ready to be blended. As Pat's Pints opined, "the brewers at de Garde pitch yeast with the same frequency that the Trappist monks in Westvleteren have sex."

I've had discussions with wine-loving friends about terroir in beer, and while I usually point towards hops in said discussions, I think this sort of brewery deserves mention. It turns out that the year round temperate climate mixed with a mess of rivers and estuaries leading into the nearby Tillamook Bay has created conditions ideal for spontaneous fermentation. Indeed, they even experimented for over a year in trying to find a location for the brewery:

So we took wort and exposed it in different areas up and down the coast and tracked fermentation circuits over the course of a year or more. We narrowed it down to a few places and proceeded to do more trials to see if there's consistency. Finally, we narrowed it down to Tillamook for the most viable opportunity. In the US we don't have the benefit of a long history of this truly wild and natural brewing. So it took this extra exploration to see what works.
Tillamook: it's not just for cheese. Anyway, that's some serious dedication there, and from what I've seen, it's paid off. I've had small pours of a few beers from them (all uniformly excellent), but these are the first I've managed to procure for myself. They aren't the most prized releases and indeed are among the offerings that take the least amount of time to produce, but they're quite nice nonetheless and someday I hope to procure the more lambic-like releases (which they seem to be gravitating towards anyway). For now, we've got saisons!

de Garde Saison Facile

de Garde Saison Facile - A wild farmhouse ale aged in an oak foeder - Pours a clearish honey gold color with a finger or two of fluffy, medium bubbled white head that leaves some lacing as I drink. Smells nice, big waft of musty Belgian yeast spice, a little earthy funk, some fruity notes. Taste hits the sweet, tart, lemony fruit notes much harder than the nose would imply, but that yeasty spice and light funk are still there, with a light sour bite in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, not quite dry but the carbonation lends that impression, with low to moderate acidity. Overall, a rock solid foudred saison. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a teku glass on 2/3/17.

de Garde Petit Blanc

de Garde Petit Blanc - A tart farmhouse ale aged in oak with late harvest Riesling grapes - Pours a clear golden color with a finger of fluffy, dense head that quickly dissipates. Smells nice, lots of spicy Belgian yeast, a little oak, plenty of vinous fruit. Taste is sweet, vinous, fruity, with some spice in the middle, followed by oak and a little tartness emerging in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, medium bodied, less dry than the Facile but quite nice. Overall, another great saison offering. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.1% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 2/10/17.

Must. Get. Moar. Would love to try their more lambic-inspired beers. Alas, those seem quite prized (see: The Broken Truck) and until production increases, I'm guessing it'll be saisons and Bu variants for me. I know, boo hoo, poor me.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the American Wild Ale category.

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