BeerAdvocate defines Wild Ales as:
Sometimes Belgian influenced, American Wild Ales are beers that are introduced to “wild” yeast or bacteria, such as: Brettanomyces (Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, Brettanomyces Lambicus or Brettanomyces Anomolus), Pediococcus or Lactobacillus. This introduction may occur from oak barrels that have been previously inoculated, pitched into the beer, or gained from various “sour mash” techniques. Regardless of which and how, these little creatures often leave a funky calling card that can be quite strange, interesting, pleasing to many, but also often deemed as undesirable by many.
I deem them delicious and I was thrilled to participate in this event.
Several wild ales and several sour styles were represented Thursday night at one the many great events of Louisville Craft Beer Week. The tasting was held in a private room at the Against the Grain brewpub. The room accommodated about 30 and I noticed three of the four proprietors in attendance (Jerry Gnagy, Sam Cruz, and Adam Watson).
Michael Minton of Dauntless Distributing was our tour-guide for the tasting, explaining what kind of beer we were drinking and what characteristics we may pick up in each. Noah Hopkins from Local Option was also on hand to introduce the beers he had brewed – the terrific Kentucky Common varieties and the Schmetterling Gose, both antique styles that have been beautifully interpreted by Local Option.
The night started with Against the Grain’s Chris Framboise a tasty raspberry infused saison/wild ale.
One of the standout beers of the night was Hop Savant from Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project. The crowd surged toward Sam Cruz as he poured this barrel conditioned beer for folks. Each batch of this sought after beer contains a different hop variety. The intense hops of this one were tamed by the wild yeasts, which made it a very interesting and complex beer. My friend, who does not like very hoppy beers, was prepared to taste and pass off the rest to me, ended up keeping it for herself.
Another favorite was the Prairie Gold from Prairie Artisan Ales. Their website describes it very well:
Prairie Gold is a dry, highly effervescent saison fermented with a mix of ale yeast, wine yeast, lactobacillus and 2 strains of brettanomyces. This beer highlights the various yeasts and bacteria used to make it. Lemon, pear, white wine grapes, and a touch of funk dominate the flavor and aroma in this champagne like beer.
I found the Prairie Gold to be very interesting and drinkable, I will definitely look for this one around town.
One of the most unique beers of the night was a beer from Local Option. Their Bourbon Barrel Aged Kentucky Common is a very uncommon sour style originating right here in Louisville.
In all we tried 12 beers and were served a variety of gourmet hors d’oeuvre including some outstanding goat cheese risotto fritters and beet pickled deviled eggs.
After several hours of mingling and drinking, the crowd swarmed on the second round of small bites. The kimchi sausage sliders, Southern fried quail “wings” with Jezebel sauce, and kettle chips were very popular.
The room size was just right for the amount of people attending and the Against the Grain crew were gracious hosts. We had some fantastic wild and sour ales, great company and food that night. Our guides explained the beers well; novices as well as experienced wild/sour drinkers learned something new about the beers offered. I hope this event makes a return at next year’s Louisville Craft Beer Week.
Here is the line up of beers:
- Against the Grain: Chris Framboise
- Local Option: Kentucky Common
- Prairie Artisan Ales: Prairie Gold
- Crooked Stave Barrel Project: Hop Savant
- Anchorage Brewing Company: Bitter Monk
- Evil Twin Brewing: Femme Fatale Brett
- Jolly Pumpkin: Luciernaga
- Against the Grain & Struise: Scorched Monk
- Local Option: Schmetterling Gose
- Mikkeller: AK Alive
- Prairie Artisan Ales & St. Somewhere: Prairie Somewhere
- Local Option: Bourbon Barrel Aged Kentucky Common