Friday, August 8, 2008

Put This Post in a Barrel with Some Wild Yeast and Forget About it for a Few Years. See What Happens.

Barrels. Wild yeasts. Sour stuff. That's what's new and hot in craft brewing these days. But those are old magicks, aren't they?

The Bourbon Barrel-Aged Angel's Share from Lost Abbey in California just won the gold medal for best American cask ale at the Great British Beer Festival. There are a growing number of sour ales on RateBeer's excitable Top 50. (And if you adjust that to include retired beers you'll see several more lambics.) Several people have found this blog just by searching for the words "Dirty Horse." And thanks to those successes we'll be seeing more and more breweries experimenting with barrel aging and wild yeast in the next few years.

Maybe it represents a return to old knowledge, old ways. Wood and air instead of steel and laboratory yeast strains. Or more accurately, the best of both worlds.

Have young guns like Lost Abbey in the U.S. and Struise in Belgium surpassed places like Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen, Verhaeghe, Rodenbach... I don't think so. Apples to oranges, maybe.

That doesn't matter anyway. This does: There is a hell of a lot of interesting beer out there to try. Your new favorite could be just around the corner.

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