de Garde Brewing is located in the tiny town of Tillamook, Ore., yes the place where they make famous cheese.
The brewery 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.
According to their website:
de Garde is a small rural brewery specializing in many diverse styles of ales, but with a focus on spontaneous fermentations inspired by the European farmhouse traditions. Our craft draws on historic traditions and local experimentations.
There are very few breweries in the U.S. that focuses on spontaneous fermentation as it’s extremely temperamental and often yields inconsistent results. Some breweries that brew in this style are Allagash Brewing Co. of Maine and Jester King Brewery of Texas. The process begins by chilling the wort in large open-air vessels without the addition of any yeast strains and allowing naturally occurring yeast in the air to ferment the beer. Rogers believes that the salty sea air from the coast of Oregon produces saccharomyces strains perfect for the souring of their beers.
de Garde brews on a 7bbl system, which doesn’t allow them to yield very large batches, but allows the brewery to focus on the quality of each beer they produce. Generally, it produce less than 1,000 bottles per release, but even with small batches they have garnered a reputation across the craft beer world. Most notably for its fruited Bu beers, which are regarded as some of the best fruited sours in America. The base of the beer is its Berliner Weisee, which is then aged in oak with several different styles of fruit. They also have two varieties of the beer in their series, a regular and an imperial version, which is generally a little over one percent higher in ABV.
Imperial Black Raz Bu pours an absolutely insane deep purple, like red wine, the head on it is a lighter red/purple. Like most offerings I have had from de Garde the bubbles disappeared very quickly and there is almost zero head retention. There are some “legs” present from the beer on the side of the glass.
The aroma on this one was very interesting, it smelled like vegetables, maybe beets? I also pick up some very rich raspberry and blackberry jam, notes of sour, and some oak scents as well. The beer overall smells great after the initial blast of the vegetable smell.
In all honestly the first sip I took of this beer had me a bit disappointed, following the vegetable nose was a musty off putting flavor that matched. It is very slight and didn’t ruin the beer by any means, but was not the fruit bombs I have come to enjoy from de Garde. But then, after letting the beer rest for a few minutes and warm a bit, all the great fruit flavors that de Garde is known for came out. It is a very intense and rich bouquet of raspberry and blackberry. It feels very juice-like in the mouth feel, it’s rich and coats the tongue much more than a 5.5 percent ABV beer. The oak comes through much more after a few minutes as well which helps really round out the beer. It has a champagne quality though, as with a lot of their beers, the carbonation is dialed up just a touch high.