This week's beer is a doozy. It's such a complex beast, in fact, that it likely won't even last the weekend — so get it while you can.
Thursday afternoon, Barrel of Monks Brewing released their collaboration beer with newcomers Odd Breed Wild Ales, both in 750 ml bottles and on draft. It's a 7.6 percent ABV wild (AKA sour) witbier that was aged in Chardonnay barrels. This means there's going to be some funk going on, hence its name: Barrel of Funk.
According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, witbier is a 400-year-old beer style that died out in the 1950s. It was later revived by Pierre Celis at Hoegaarden and has grown steadily in popularity since. The overall effect is a "refreshing, elegant, tasty, moderate-strength wheat-based ale," according to the BJCP.
The brewers added complexity to the witbier beginnings with a mix of bacteria to induce its wild side. This means the beer is influenced by microbes as opposed to traditional brewer’s yeasts.
After that, Barrel of Funk was put into Chardonnay barrels to age, giving it even more complexity and allowing the flavors to mix, grow, and expand.
The result is an expression of the flavors only sour beers can provide. It pours a yellow to yellow-gold color with bright white head that lingers decently. Bright aromas of acidic and rettanomyces-laden funk dominate. It's incredibly effervescent, with a Champagne-like quality. In fact, much of what is happening here is reminiscent of South African sparking wines produced in the méthode traditionnelle. Flavors begin with a sharp tartness that quickly mellows to a wine-forward sweetness. The oak is barely perceptible and lends a roundness to the beer.
Barrel of Funk is one of those experiences that is currently only available on tap at the Barrel of Monks tasting room, likely only for a short amount of time; bottles quickly sold out. Soon, similar beers will be available in Pompano Beach when Odd Breed Wild Ales opens their public space.
Barrel of Monks. 1141 S. Rogers Cir. #5, Boca Raton; 561-510-1253; barrelofmonks.com.
Odd Breed Wild Ales. 50 NE First Street, Pomano Beach; oddbreed.com.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger dedicated to educating the public about all things beer, with a focus on Florida brews. He is the Brand Marketing Manager for Due South Brewing Company and has been a homebrewer since 2009. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.