|Allagash Cooling Ship - Empty|
Breweries like Jolly Pumpkin use a combination of all three; Allagash Brewery in Maine has the only cooling ship in the United States. What is a "cooling ship"? Well, after beer is boiled with hops and whatnot it is typically cooled to around 60 degrees and yeast is added. In the normal course, this happens very quickly - beer is siphoned out of the kettle, through a chiller of some sort, and into a (typically conical) fermenter. This process goes very quickly because, usually, you don't want beer sitting in the "bacterial danger zone" - between about 130 and 75 degrees - very long. The beer might get infected.
|Allagash Cooling Ship - Full|
New Glarus and New Belgium, while I don't know for sure because breweries tend to be pretty secret about souring techniques, probably use some combination of the first two with a more controlled version of the third. In other words, they don't use cooling ships, but they do use oak barrels that are known to have active bacteria in them. Jolly Pumpkin does this as well.
After primary fermentation, the beer is left to age where the bacteria does its work, eventually calms down and the beer begins to mellow. If the young sour beer is unblended we typically call that a
So, there you go - Belgian wild brewing in less than 500 words. Somewhere a brewer is crying.
New Glarus Enigma
BeerAdvocate (A-). RateBeer (99).
Appearance: 52 degrees; color deep, old amber; thick, dense white foamy head that clings steadfast
Aroma: malty with a slight fruity, cherry brightness; much more muted than expected; a bit musty
Flavor: cherry and oak with a dry finish and a strong, but subdued sourness; a quenching sourness in the finish
Body: medium bodied and soft with a clean finish
Drinkability: restrained and refined; the flavors are not nearly as "big" as La Folie which makes is more approachable and drinkable; reminds me of Duchesse and Monks Cafe
Summary: You know, it's super-sour beers like La Folie that all the beer snobs love; but, frankly, I'll take this, and Monks Cafe and Duchesse (two of Mrs. MBR's favorites, by the way) any day. I'm a fan of Rodenbach and their Grand Cru and this isn't quite that sour. La Folie is certainly in that direction and probably even more along the lines of a Cantillon Gueze even. But, where those are definitely of a certain strain - and, don't get me wrong, I love 'em - for a more frequent treat, I'm a fan of these more subdued sours. Indeed, New Glarus could make this seasonal or as one of their regulars and I would be very happy indeed - as one of the nice things about sours is that because they have that quenching attribute even with a pretty solid body like this one, you can drink them anytime of the year.