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.
American wild ale
Only opening four years ago, Wicked Weed has already made a name for itself in the brewing world, focusing on wild ales and hoppy west coast ales. Two friends, Walt and Luke, dreamed it up while they were drinking beer, of course. They brought in a good friend, Ryan Guthy and his parents, to join in on the vision and in a mountain house in North Carolina Wicked Weed was officially born. After a few months a space was found and the brewery was built out.
If you spend a few minutes perusing through any of the craft beer forums you will most likely come across a thread about having to pick your favorite brewery or pick your desert island brewery. For me it has always been a fairly easy question. Over the years I have become quite the fanboy for Firestone Walker and once they opened Barrelworks in 2013 it sealed the deal for me. With beers like Sucaba, Parabola and its anniversary series, Firestone Walker has set the bar pretty high so the idea of them producing sour beers really got me irrationally excited.
The Bruery, of Orange County, Calif., is one of the leading breweries when it comes to crazy, experimental barrel-aged beers.It’s very well known for its days of the week beers, Grey Monday, Black Tuesday and Mocha Wednesday. A quick look around its website though and you get a good feel for the crazy amount of barrel-aged beers it pulls off. Nearly half of all the beers The Bruery produces spend time in either a wine barrel, a spirit barrel or a fresh oak barrel. I’ll let them explain it in their own words"
Only opening four years ago, Wicked Weed has already made a name for itself in the brewing world, focusing on wild ales and hoppy west coast ales. Two brothers, Walt and Luke Dickinson, dreamed it up while they were drinking beer, of course. They brought in a good friend, Ryan Guthy and his parents, to join in on the vision and in a North Carolina mountain house Wicked Weed was officially born.
Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales are notorious for its spontaneously fermented ales. Founded in 2004 by Ron Jeffries in Dexter, Mich., it has now grown to include two brewpubs – one in Ann Arbor and one in Traverse City. They pride themselves on only brewing beers using ingredients grown from the earth, they will not use any preservatives or chemicals. Every one of their beers are oak-aged and bottle conditioned and many are brewed with open air fermentation or spontaneous fermentation.
Over the past few years I have come across bottles of New Belgium's Le Terroir on shelves and for some reason never picked one up. I have had so many other offerings from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series that it really surprises me how this one just slipped through the cracks. That all changed a few weeks back when it was on tap at one of my local watering holes.
Russian River Brewing Co. is well known as brewing some of the best sours in the United States, most notably their barrel aged series including; Beatification, Consecration, Supplication and Temptation. Since 2010, it has brewed Framboise For A Cure, a charity beer released in October.
Beer brewed with wild yeast strains are exploding in popularity with American craft beer lovers with more and more breweries are adventuring into this subset of beers every day.
One of the foremost experts in the field of wild yeast fermentation is Chad Jacobson of Crooked Stave. Jacobson spent his formative years studying wine until he came to the realization that beer is better than wine. Jacobson went on to open a brewery that brews only brettanomyces beers but not before writing his masters dissertation on brettanomyces fermentation. He has spent his entire professional career studying brett and how to unlock the true potential of this once feared yeast.
Let me start out by saying I have a long running obsession with Crooked Stave. Now that I have got that off my chest I can get started. Chad Jacobson is the head brewer for Crooked Stave in Denver, Colo. He is known in the industry as being one of the leaders in the world of brettanomyces (brett) fermentation. Many brewers use brett, but not many have the true understanding of the curious little organism like Chad Jacobson. He has spent his entire career researching brettanomyces and what it can accomplish and it shows in his beers. As a home brewer obsessed with brettanomyces I owe almost everything I have learned to Jacobson and his research.