It's #FloridaBeerFridayEvery Friday, we take a look at a beer brewed in the Sunshine State, giving analysis to the burgeoning craft-beer movement of Florida.
It takes a massive pair of cahones to make a sour beer in a popular, if not erudite, brewpub most famous for its blonde ale and marzen lager. For Brewzzi, it's another sign that the craft beer movement in South Florida is in full swing and is ready to showcase all styles of beer.
Matt Manthe, the scholarly brewer at the Boca Raton brewpub, has put his skills on full force by introducing the southern Palm Beach County public to a wild beer: one of a trending style replete with bacterial microbes and mouth-puckering acidity.
Russian River Brewing Company all but indoctrinated a lot of American craft sour lovers with their lines of supplication, consecration, and numerous other 'ations' of tart fermented goodness. For us in South Florida, where Russian River is a far-flung import, breweries like The Bruery have been able to supply us with Sour in the Rye and Tart of Darkness and spurning our appetite for the sour stuff.
Brewzzi's American Wild Ale, looks to continue that appetite with this microbe-laced beer. "I brewed this beer with three types of malts: Pilsener, Pale Wheat, and Rye," Manthe told Clean Plate. "The beer was mash hopped with whole leaf East Kent Golding. I used a multi-step infusion mash, starting with a short protein rest at 131 farenheit to break down some of the larger proteins in the rye and wheat. I produce a mash to favor dextrins over simple sugars, which allows for a longer fermentation with more Brettanomyces flavor development."
Manthe takes the science of brewing and runs with it, producing exactly what he wants by manipulating the precise steps of the process. Here, after pitching bacteria into warm wort, he lets the beer sit for a few weeks to let those organisms do their thing. Then there's the addition of a Saison yeast and his "favorite Brettanomyces strains", the beer moves on to the waiting game.
"It takes a couple months for the Brettanomyces to consume most of the sugars, eventually leaving a very dry beer that is under one plato [a measure of the fermentable sugars in a liquid], and the pH drops down to about 3.5."
This beer pours an effervescent golden sun-like yellow, with some slight haze. The aromas off this beer are strong in pulpy starfruit, mango, and sour gummy candy. The beginning of the flavor is a burst of tartness that hits pretty forcefully, then eases back into a slightly bitter and salty aftertaste that accompanies some drying, like a champagne. As it warms, more of the funkiness gets pulled out of it -- George Clinton makes himself known -- which helps to propel this complex beverage from outstanding to phenomenal.
As a bonus, a limited single barrel of this beer was fed into a Four Roses bourbon barrel (those fellas out in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky making Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey and who are now owned by Kirin Brewery Company) for an added treat for those who make it to the brewpub before it's all gone.
53 gallons of the beer were placed into said Four Roses Bourbon barrel that was previously used to age a strong Porter fermented exclusively with Brettanomyces.
"The Barrel Aged Wild Ale was aged for 10 months with three strains of Brettanomyces. Eventually, all of the sugars were consumed, leaving the beer at zero plato."
For this barrel aged beer, the flavors becomes exquisitely rounded, beginning mildly tart and progressing into a bready and chardonnay-like woodsiness that hints quite a bit at its bourbon barrel heritage. It's a treat.
As the current Brewmaster's Selection, the American Wild Ale will last only as long as there are gallons in the kegs, and is currently on tap at the Brewzzi in Boca Raton only.
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Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Instagram.