Style: American Wild Ale Brewed aged in Wine Barrels with Buddha’s Hand zest, Yuzu, and Blood Orange
From: San Francisco, CA
Brewery’s Note: “Citrus and beer have made a great pair ever since the first lemon wedge was added to a frosty wheat beer. Here we expand on that tradition, melding a sour blond ale with the intensely aromatic zest of Buddha’s Hand citrons and the bracing tartness of Yuzu and Blood Oranges from Hamada Farms. Pair harmoniously with sushi or flakey white fish or contrast with earthy roasted root vegetables.”
About Farm to Barrel: “Our Farm to Barrel beers focus on the eons-old tradition of aging beers in oak barrels. This American wild ale was aged in used wine casks with our house “Dogpatch” sour culture, a cocktail of wild Belgian and American yeasts, including San Francisco sourdough starter. The yeasts slowly morph the beer from a traditional ale into something wild, creating a mild acidic bite as well as pulling oak and vanilla flavors from the barrel. After maturing, the barrels are blended together—creating a vinous, delicate beer that captures the essence of a particular harvest. Farm to Barrel Beers are alive in the bottle, and will continue to mature gracefully for several years.”
The beer pours a deep, chalky yellow with dark-straw tinges. It forms a fizzle of soda-pop head before dwindling away. The body of the beer is a touch hazy, like in a lemonade with strands of lemon still in the body, but it is also clear and clean. I get no lacing. On the nose, the beer smells quite tart. Lactic acid melds with softly sweet citrus and just a glimmer of sweet berry in the nose along with OJ and tropical fruit blend that is heavy on citrus, but which also carries touches of pineapple and even a little banana. There is a mellowness to the end of the sniff which suggest the barrel’s melding hand and a ghost of oakiness. On the tongue, the beer tastes strongly of citric acid with a nice mellow citrus-fruit sweetness that melds into mild white-wine vinous notes. The citric acid is complex and multifaceted, and the finish carries touches of earthy cheese rind that really play wonderfully with the rest of the beer. The rind mellows into a quick splash of oakiness with a touch of bitter oak and citrus pith, which help to dry out the palate and balance the sweet and citric taste. It tastes of complex lemon juice with a touch of salt, blended with a little OJ, a blush of grapefruit and chalk, and a finish of citrus-washed cheese rind, a little bit of hay, and even some farmhouse funk. The flavor gets better and better as you sip, yet delivers all the citrus fruit you would expect from a beer called “Farmer’s Reserve Citrus.” In the mouth, the beer feels on the light side of medium in body with a definite tight pucker that leaves the teeth with a grime while the tongue pools congealing spittle with a pucker. The mouthfeel while the beer is still in the mouth is sharp, crisp, and almost effervescent despite the languid carb. It’s almost vinous in the mouth, but with a full pucker that puts it nicely in that sour category. Overall, this is a lovely expression of citrus fruit with the right amount of beer-like background, a little barrel, a little funk, a little cheese rind, and all the wonderful flavors I want. Almanac might be a ‘shelf-turd’ but they are making a damn fine shelf-turds, and I am sure glad they’ve shown up in New England. Great expression of barrel and produce from Nor Cal. In terms of what I’ve had from them, I liked the Elephant Heart De Brettaville more, as that showed a fuller depth of integration between the fruit and the beer below it, but I would never turn down a glass of this.