de Garde Brewing is located in the tiny town of Tillamook, Ore., yes the place where they make famous cheese. de Garde 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 its 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 focus on spontaneous fermentation as it’s extremely temperamental and often yields inconsistent results. Some breweries that brew in this style are Allagash out of Maine and Jester King out 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 them to focus on the quality of each beer they produce. They generally 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 their fruited Bu beers, which are regarded as some of the best fruited sours in America. The base of the beer is de Garde’s 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 1 percent higher in ABV.
Imperial Orchard Bu pours a very hazy orange with suspended yeast; it almost looks like pulpy orange juice and has a small ring of bubbles that sits outside the beer the whole time.
The smell is like pureed peach, apricots and nectarines, there is so much fruit character in the nose it’s crazy. It smells more like a jam or jelly than a beer, there is some funky graininess as well and tart lactic sourness on the nose as well. You can smell some barrel character as well and that becomes more prevalent as the beer warms up.
The taste is quintessential de Garde sour, very lactic and tangy with a familiar taste in the base beer from their unique yeast. There is a plethora of fruit on the taste, both sweetness from the “meat” of the fruit and even the taste of the skin where it is more tart and a more balanced. You can taste all of the fruits individually, but the peach and apricot seemed to be more prevalent as the beer was more subdued on the sweetness side and had more of the flavor I would associate with the fuzzy skin of peaches and apricots.