Almanac's Big Summer

Eno Sarris, April 30, 2015

Last year, purveyors of sours and farm-to-table fresh beers Almanac Brewing opened up new markets, and generally made beers that people like. They'll be spending the summer doing a little of both, with wrinkles. 

Well, the first is pretty straight forward: Chicago is the next market on the table. Citing the vibrant bottle shop culture in the city, Almanac's Sales Manager Chris Matthiessen expressed excitement about finding the right partners and exploring the great beer city of the Midwest. 

That means that Chicago, New York, and Denver will join the west coast in enjoying the new sours that Almanac has put on their schedule for the year. 

(the full schedule is on PorchDrinking)

Dogpatch Grand Cru
The Dogpatch base is a Flanders Red base, but Almanac will kick it up to 10% ABV for this release, which is new territory for their sours. They'll have red wine grapes in the Grand Cru, and they'll use fresh wine barrels straight from the wineries in Sonoma. Those barrels were "still wet" when the sours went in, says Matthiessen. The traditional Almanac method is to age the sours with fruit in the barrels -- not every sour brewery does it this way -- but with the Grand Crus, not every barrel will have had grapes while aging. This allows Almanac to get "different flavors from different barrels," and also to blend exactly to taste.  

Farmers Reserve Cuvee
Again, Almanac will bump their Farmer's Reserve base beer up to 10-11% from 7%. This time, they'll add white wine grapes -- a blend, as with the red -- to their golden sour ale. Again with the fresh barrels, as well.  

Bourbon Grand Cru
If you liked Almanac's Tequila Noir or their Sour Porter, you'll probably like this beer. It's hard to say definitely, because the porter that went into that Sour Porter was a once in a lifetime thing. "It was part stout, part porter, something like three beers went into that," laughed Matthiessen. "It definitely wasn't one beer." But the dark beer that goes into the Bourbon Grand Cru will have the same characteristics as their Cognac and Tequila aged stouts. And then it will be aged in new bourbon barrels, for your pleasure. 

There's a TBD sour on the menu, and Matthiessen thought it would be their 'Old Fashioned' inspired sour -- a darker base, cherries, orange peels, bourbon barrel -- which should come right in time for the winter holidays. Could be the perfect New Year's beer. 

Even though their 375 mL bottles are iconic, there will also be 750 mL bottles for this series. Makes sense, considering the wine aspect of the Grand Crus, and also since their 375 mL bottle sell out of every bottle shop here in Northern California -- this way consumers can get more liquid from that one spot on the shelf. 

There might be some more suprises coming, but this is a well-packed schedule from Almanac, one of the West Coast's fastest-growing breweries. This writer can't wait to try the lot of them -- even if he might let them simmer in his beer fridge for just a bit, and in his open glass for a few minutes or so before he enjoys them. The waiting makes it that much better.