American sour beer may very well be the fastest growing segment in the craft beer renaissance. Any brewery that is worth its weight in wort and wishes to remain relevant has a sour program.
The brainchild of head brewer and owner Dan Carey, Enigma was originally brewed in 2003, but was first bottled and released in 2006 as part of the Thumbprint Series of beers at New Glarus. The Thumbprint Series, according to Carey, “…are still brewed with the beer enthusiast in mind. Thumbprint beers are brewed in small batches that are intended to be available for one time only. However, popular demand has caused some styles to return. This is my own thumbprint, to let everyone know this is a real New Glarus handcrafted beer! Cheers.”
Evil Twin Brewing is a gypsy brewery originating from Copenhagen, Denmark with headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y. In order to fully understand the origins of Evil Twin, one would need some knowledge of the relationship between founder Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergso and his identical twin brother Mikkel Borg Bjergso, founder of Mikkeler Brewing. The intent of this article is not to go into detail about the brothers and their somewhat tumultuous relationship, but if you were particularly interested, I would suggest looking at this piece from The New York Times
It is arguably the most famous, sought after, talked about and otherwise storied brew of this proverbial craft beer renaissance. Spanning a full decade this beer has won two bronze and three gold medals at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup, as well as, being voted the number one commercial beer in the world by the homebrewing publication Zymurgy for six years straight. That's right, I said six years straight. It is also credited with spawning the immense popularity of the double India pale ale—or imperial India pale ale—style.
de Garde Brewing is located in the tiny town of Tillamook, Ore. It has only been brewing commercially for around two years now, but excellence knows no age. Brewing partners Trevor Rogers and Linsey Hamacher opened up de Garde in the form of a 7bbl system brewery.
In 2008, Allagash Brewing Co. built one of the first commercial koelschip—or coolship, as it is known in America—in the country. In simple terms, a coolship is a large, shallow steel pan about a foot deep that is used to both cool down wort after it is brewed and to expose the resulting concoction to naturally occurring yeasts and bacteria that are in the air. This is a traditional method used in Belgium, and very few U.S. breweries have the expertise, time or money needed to work with one.
Upslope Brewing Company was founded in 2008 by Matt Cutter and Dany Pages in Boulder, Colo., with its first publicly released beer being a pale ale.A few years and a few beers later, they now offer five regular release beers year round, with some limited release beers sprinkled in when the season is right. Upslope’s beers are only released in cans, as the owners feel it fits their style of active and environmentally conscious individuals. One of those regular release cans that towers above the other 12-ounce plebeians, is the Imperial IPA that only comes in a 19.2 ounce royal pint can.
In 1998, Dogfish Head created a Belgian-style brown ale called Raison D'Etre, which translated from French means reason for being. The name is a play on words of sorts, as it is brewed with raisins, along with beet sugar and Belgian-style yeast. This heavier 8 percent ABV beer was brewed with the intention of pairing it with steak much like you would a red wine. Fast forward nine years and Dogfish Head decided to take the Raison D’Etre recipe and add in even more raisins, malts and brown sugar to create what Dogfish calls its “Raison D'Etre, with a little extra,” aptly named Raison D’Extra.
In 2009, The Bruery started a yearly tradition that continues to this day: the release of Black Tuesday on the final Tuesday of October. The imperial stout usually comes in between 18 percent and 19 percent ABV— the 2014 version is 19.7 percent ABV—and is packaged in 750ml bottles after being aged in bourbon barrels for over a year. In fact, Black Tuesday proved to be so popular that The Bruery has released quite a few variations, including Grey Monday, Mocha Wednesday, Chocolate Rain and Rum Barrel Black Tuesday, which as the name implies, is aged in rum barrels instead of bourbon barrels.