The use of locally sourced ingredients is big in the craft beer world. Whether it is using locally grown hops, fruit from a neighboring farm or collecting wild yeast and bacteria from the air surrounding the brewery many of America’s craft breweries have really put an emphasis on capturing their local terroir.1
Fonta Flora Brewery in Morgontown, N.C. is one of the breweries leading the charge in using local ingredients in their beers. They are constantly sourcing nearby sources for interesting ingredients ranging from locally malted grains, bulls blood beets, or fresh Montgomery cherries for use in its beers. The use of these unique ingredients has lead to a long line delicious beers that have not only been embraced by the North Carolina beer scene but also garnished a groundswell of interest from a nation of beer nerds.2
Thanks to a beer-loving friend in North Carolina3 I have a bottle of Meemaw in front of me tonight to review. Meemaw is described as an Appalachian wild ale brewed with high country wild cherries. The bottle opens with a light hiss and pours an interesting reddish color that is somewhere between amber and pink. I have had my fair share of cherry sour beers over the years so I had some basic expectations going into this beer. My first whiff of this beer and all of those expectations are out the window. The beer smells like fresh cherry juice with layers of bretty funk and a light acidity. The beer has a very inviting bouquet that begs to be drank immediately.
Once again my preconceived notions of what to expect with this beers are blown away with my first sip. On the whole I am a huge fan of fruited sour beers, but cherry beers tend to be towards the bottom of the list for me. It seems that so many cherry beers are very reminiscent of cherry cough syrup or artificial cherry flavoring. Meemaw has neither of those qualities and has a wonderful fresh cherry character that is absolutely delicious. The beer has a mild acidity that is balanced out with the slight sweetness of the fruit character. A layer of bretty funk comes in and adds a layer of complexity along with faint hints of oak. The finish is more of the same but the fruit notes show a bit of strawberry as it lingers on the palate. Each sip ends with the immediate need for another.