Recently in American Wild Ale Category

American Lambic Wars

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To paraphrase Yoda: begun, the American lambic wars have. Ouch. Sorry, quoting the prequels hurts. I don't recommend it. Anyway, there was a kerfluffle with some American breweries that are taking inspiration from lambic, mostly caused by Jester King's notion of creating a specific designation that is now called Méthode Traditionelle (they originally called it Méthode Gueuze, but real lambic producers weren't too enthused by that one), complete with a protected mark for the label and everything. So far, it doesn't seem to be catching on. Allagash seems content to just keep doing their thing, as befits their pioneering status in the American lambic debate (they were basically the first to get really serious about spontaneous fermentation in the US). And de Garde seems actively hostile to the idea.

Whatever the case, there are plenty of smaller names getting in on the action. I've had three beers recently that all claim to be inspired by lambic in one way or another, whether it being the way something is aged, or the ingredients, or the spontaneous fermentation, or in one case, I'm not sure it resembles lambic at all, except it's sour. And yet, all three were pretty great. First up:

Tahoe Mountain Evolution of the Barrel

Tahoe Mountain Evolution of the Barrel - A blend of one, two and three year old sour golden ale fermented and aged in oak barrels. As far as I can tell, not spontaneously fermented, but the aging and blending resemble geuze... Pours a mostly clear golden yellow color with a finger of fluffy white head. Smells great, earthy funk, vinous fruit, lactic, a little oak. Taste has a good depth to it, earthy funk leavened by vinous fruit, stone fruit, a heaping of oak, and a well modulated sourness. Mouthfeel is well carbonated and crisp, with a moderate acidity and medium body. Overall, this is fantastic. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.7% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 12/8/17.

Logsdon Spontane Wilde

Logsdon Spontane Wilde - They say this is made in a traditional "Methode van Lembeek" (suck it, Jester King), and it actually does seem like they're going for something like lambic - unmalted wheat, aged hops, spontaneously fermented, oak aged, pretty close. The result pours a bit darker than the above, with lots of carb and head. Smells great, barnyard funk, tart fruit, and oak. Taste hits similar notes, a little more fruit in the taste, but plenty of funk and oak. Mouthfeel is dry, highly carbonated, and effervescent, moderately acidic and a little puckering. Overall, really good, but it feels a lot like your typical Logsdon beer. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7.4% ABV bottled (375 ml). Drank out of a flute glass on 12/8/17.

Phantom Carriage Crawling Eye

Phantom Carriage Crawling Eye - They say this is "Lambic-inspired" but they don't really say what that means and after drinking this, um, I don't think it particularly resembles lambic. But it's still really good. Also, I love the classic film references. Classy. Pours a mostly clear yellow color with just a little short-lived head. Smells of sweet, vinous fruit, sour twang. Taste hits that lactic sourness pretty hard, with a little funk and vinous fruit, and some oak leavening things. Mouthfeel is low to medium carbed, bright and acidic. Overall, really good. Not at all like lambic. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.3% ABV bottled (500 ml). Drank out of a tulip glass on 12/27/17.

Not exactly in the same game as Belgium, but really nice nonetheless. I should really hunt down more Allagash or Jester King to really dig into this more.

Again Dark Wednesday

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Every year, on the day before Thanksgiving, Victory has some sort of beer release. They hath dubbed the day Dark Wednesday, and past offerings include the likes of Dark Intrigue, Java Cask, and Java Cask Rye. This year's primary offering was Wisdom's Hour, a dark sour, but they were also teasing another "mystery" beer that wasn't really a mystery because it sorta already came out during the summer that they were making another batch of Java Cask Rye, but with added vanilla beans. As per usual, Victory's releases tend to be pretty low-stress affairs, so even though I was battling a cold at the time, I managed to pop over and secure a couple bottles without notably impacting my condition... Anywho, Victory is one of my long time favorite local breweries, so I'm always excited to see them trying new things from time to time. Let's get on with it:

Victory Wisdoms Hour

Victory Wisdom's Hour - Pours a dark amber color with a finger of off white head. Smells of dark fruit, oak, vinegar, vanilla. Taste has some darker malt sort of notes, not exactly roasty, some dark fruit, spice, oak, and vinegar, only moderately sour. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, moderate acidity, pretty easy going. Overall, it's a nice little sour, not going to light anything on fire, but worthwhile. It may be on the lower end of the B+ rating, but I'm feeling generous enough.

Beer Nerd Details: 9.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a tulip glass on 11/27/17. Bottled on: 10 Nov 2017.

Victory Java Cask Rye with Vanilla Beans

Victory Java Cask Rye with Vanilla Beans - Pours a jet black color with almost no head whatsoever (and what's there disappears quickly). Smells of coffee, with a little bit of booze and hints of that vanilla evident. Taste starts with some rich caramel, lots of booze, oak, and a little vanilla, with the coffee only emerging in the middle and not super strong either. Mouthfeel is rich and despite the appearance, actually pretty well carbonated, lots of warming booze. Overall, it's pretty darned good, but I have a feeling coffee fans would be a touch disappointed, but as someone ambivalent to coffee, I think I liked this more. It's definitely not the non-coffeed version of my dreams, but it's darned good. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 12.5% ABV bottled (750 ml caged and corked). Drank out of a snifter on 12/3/17. Bottled on: 13 Nov 2017.

As per usual, Victory remains a local go to, and it looks like they have another batch of Red coming soon, which was phenomenal last year...

Hill Farmstead Sue

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An overdue recap of Operation Cheddar VI: Night of the Living Cheddar (my latest foray into Vermont hunting for beer) is on its way, but in the meantime, let's look at a beer I drank in anticipation of that momentous undertaking.

Sue is a wine barrel-aged version of Susan, which is one of Hill Farmstead's trademark bright, juicy, tropical fruity IPAs. This is... not the most likely candidate for extended aging. However, after two years in the barrels, the beer picks up lots of wine character and lemony tartness, making it much better than what an "aged IPA" would normally conjure.

So let's get dressed up all in black, head over to San Quentin, and drink a beer named Sue*. "My name is 'Sue!' How do you do!?"

Hill Farmstead Sue

Hill Farmstead Sue - Pours a yellowish golden color with a solid finger of long lived head. Smells quite nice, oak, vinous fruit, lemons, and sneaking in the background are some of those dank, faded hops (very delicate aroma, it works). Taste has a nice sweetness to it, tons of that vinous fruit, wine, lemons, a bit of earthy funk, almost no sign of hops until well into the finish. MOuthfeel is medium bodied, crisp, and effervescent, with a relatively dry finish. Overall, much better than its description would imply - it feels like a solid, complex saison rather than an IPA (I'll slap the American Wild Ale label on this one, but you could easily call it a saison). A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 7/28/17. Bottled: 2017 05 11.

Many thanks to Kaedrin beverage compatriot Dana for picking this up on her own invasion of Vermont recently. Several more Hill Farmstead offerings to come, as well as a full recap of Operation Cheddar VI, so stick around.

* Get it? Screaming hot Johnny Cash reference here. Somewhere I have a list of potential beer names, and one of them was A Beer Named Sue. I mean, not "Sue" (like the above beer) but literally "A Beer Named Sue". I have no idea what it will be, and at my current rate of 1 batch per year it may be a while, but I will brew a beer and call it that. Someday.

Burley Oak Quadruple Feature

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Every summer, I find myself vacationing in Ocean City, Maryland. I'm not one of those people who go to the beach every weekend (I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. /Vader), but I enjoy it every once in a while, and it's a way to get out of my Philly rut in many ways. Including beer! A couple of years ago I discovered Burley Oak Brewing, just a hop and a skip away in Berlin, MD, and it just so happened that this year's OCMD trip perfectly coincided with a can release of four different beers.

Such releases come in many flavors. There are infamous national attractions, like Dark Lord day, that are more like festivals, but the grand majority of releases at most breweries tend to be relatively mellow affairs. You maybe go a little early and wait in line, but often even that level of committment isn't needed. Then there is a kooky tier of relatively small breweries that nevertheless generate an insane demand. Local Kaedrin favorite Tired Hands falls into that category, and while their releases have calmed down somewhat on the whole, they still get insane for certain beers (notably Milkshake variant cans and Parageusia bottles). There are some other PA breweries that generate a lot of angst over releases (i.e. Voodoo, Bullfrog, etc...) but in general, these are the events that make the normals think that beer nerds are degenerates (and, well, they're not wrong).

All of which is to say, I was expecting something akin to a low-level Tired Hands release for this Burley Oak event (i.e. people in line, but nothing bonkers). A friend cautioned me to get there two hours early, which was certainly a surprise for me. I've had a bunch of Burley Oak beer in the past, but with all due respect, nothing that warranted this sort of crazy. Then again, a big release of popular beers on a holiday weekend is just asking for trouble. Fortunately, the timing of my independently planned departure from OCMD perfectly aligned with that recommendation, so that's what ended up happening. And I'm glad it did, because that line got all kinds of stupid as time went on (it basically encircled the entire brewery and parking lot). Let's dive in:

Burley Oak 100

Burley Oak 100 - Double IPA tripple dry-hopped with Mosaic and named after an emoticon? My kinda stupid. - Pours a murky golden yellow color with a finger of white, dense head. Smells nice, lots of tropical fruit, mangoes, pineapple, and the like. Taste follows the nose, lots of tropical fruit, juicy citrus stuff, mild finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well but tightly carbonated. Overall, this is the best Burley Oak IPA I've had, it compares favorably to the typical NEIPA purveyors, worth waiting in line. And I've had a couple more of these over the past couple of weeks and damn, it's only grown in my estimation. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/1/17. Canned: 7/1/17 (nailed it!)

Burley Oak Blueberry Strawberry J.R.E.A.M.

Burley Oak Blueberry Strawberry J.R.E.A.M. - Sour ale with lactose conditioned on blueberries and strawberries. Incidentally, the acronym stands for "Juice Rules Everything Around Me", just in case you were wondering. - Pours a cloudy but bright, almost luminous maroon color with a finger of bubbly head that doesn't last long. Smells of bright citrus and a little Berliner-like twang. Taste is very sweet, those strawberries an blueberries coming through in a sorta generic jammy way (not sure I'd pick them both blind, but I might get one), a nice lactic tartness pervades, especially in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbonated, moderate to high acidity, but nothing untoward. Overall, a nice little tart ale here, though it kinda begs for oak. B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a flute glass on 7/1/17. Released: 7/1/17 (nailed it!)

Burley Oak Apricot Raspberry J.R.E.A.M.

Burley Oak Apricot Raspberry J.R.E.A.M. - Sour ale with lactose conditioned on apricots and raspberries. - Pours a cloudy but bright reddish orange color with a finger of quickly dissipating head. Smells more of raspberry than apricot, jammy, a little of that lactic funk. Taste hits that raspberry pretty hard (with hints of apricot, but again, I doubt I'd be able to place that blind), very sweet, jammy, with a little less sourness, though it's still pretty puckering. Mouthfeel is rich, medium to full bodied, well carbonated, less acid than the other variant, but still moderate to high. Overall, I like this better than the blueberry/strawberry, but it still sorta begs for some oak to leaven things a little. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a charente glass on 7/2/17. Released: 7/1/17.

Burley Oak Coffee N' Cream

Burley Oak Coffee N' Cream - Cream ale with Burley Oak's house made cold brew coffee. Hey look, this is apparently the first time I've written about a cream ale. Score? - Pours a clear golden color with a finger of white head. Smells strongly of roast coffee and not much else. Taste hits that coffee flavor pretty hard too, an underlying sweetness peeks out a bit too. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and easy to drink. Overall, this is not a beer for coffee-ambivalents like myself, but if you do like coffee, you may enjoy. For me, I'll give it a C+ because I'm the worst.

Beer Nerd Details: 5.1% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/3/17. Released on 7/1/17.

So there you have it. I probably won't be going to far out of my way for these releases, but there is that annual trip to OCMD, so there's always a chance!

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...

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

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