Sour Sunday, or Let's Call it Farmhouse Friday

Eno Sarris, March 30, 2015

I didn't plan for this to happen, but it did. A series of choices I made ended up with this beer lineup on Sunday. 

I guess it would make more sense to do this as Farmhouse Friday, because these aren't all 'sours,' but they all have farmhouse yeasts in them. Farmhouse yeasts are 'wild' in that they came in off the air in Belgian farmhouses at some point. (White Labs yeast dude doesn't recommend you try that today in America.) Usually the yeasts are Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus or Pediococcus. 

The first two beers were more Brett-forward, meaning there was more of that peppery horse blanket funkiness that you might be familiar with from saisons. The second two had more of that sour 'jam' thickness you'd think of from a Lacto or Pedio-forward beer. I'd guess there was some Brett in all four beers, from the way that Brett "cleans up" after Pedio. 

Farmhouse IPAs or Belgian IPAs are a new thing, really. Some places don't recognize the style, and the style itself was really created because some Belgian brewers started hopping beers more like American brewers. It's still 'in development.' 

So a Californian brewery making a Beligan IPA was a fun thing this weekend. Party Boy and Shady Oak Barrel House Funkatronic had me revisiting my lack of interest in farmhouse IPAs, honestly. They might not be the best two I ever had, but they did enough to be juicy and wet and hoppy like an IPA while adding the Brett funkyness at the right time and in the right magnitude. Plus the big old white foam head on these is fun.

The Commons saison was a dark herbal saison that really missed the mark. There was some Brett in there, some saison, some darker malts... but the herbal stuff going on on top was all thyme and hibiscus and too much really. The effect was of herbal soap. 

The Birra Del Borgo is a recommended beer. It's an affordable way to drink Cantillon, actually. The base spelt beer is blended with 20% Cantillon sour to give you a nice light fruity sour that tastes like a Cantillon Gueuze, but has a hint of wheat about it. Spelt is a hybrid wheat of some sort. 

But the star of the day was the Rare Barrel beer. Wise Guise is their award-winning Ensorcelled -- a beer that tastes like biting into a raspberry and cracking a seed -- blended with a house golden sour. The effect is a slightly lighter version of a classic pedio sour. Thick mouthfeel with a tart finish is the way to my heart. 

All in all, this Sour Sunday / Farmhouse Friday was made up of three affordable options and an expensive ringer, and cost me around $55. Which is decent actually, considering that these are mostly barrel-aged beers, which can get expensive. But when Rodenbacher brewer Rudi Ghequire said it was on us to improve our palates and rate sours better, that sort of thing requires practice. This Sunday was worthy practice.