Imagine this: its February 19th in Central PA; its usually cold, blustery even, possibly snow on the ground or snowing, icicles usually hang from gutters and roofs and trees, nobody is outside walking their dogs, nobody is outside period – unless forced to shovel – schools might even be cancelled due to snow or bad roads, cars stay parked along the roads, plowed in by local governments snowplowers, …..this is your usual February 19th right? Not 2020. Instead, its 2PM on February 19th, 2020, in Hummelstown Pennsylvania, and my phone says its 45 degrees, sunny, with the warm rays warming me more than the 45 even suggests. There’s a slight breeze. I take a pause from my yard work and long dog walks to sit outside and enjoy a delicious beer and read some books.
My first beer from the California beer mail I did a few days prior, and my first of that batch to be reviewed for the blog. When going through the beers in the fridge looking to find one to drink on this beautiful day, the name of this one leaped out to me (for obvious reasons) and thus became the de facto first pick.
My beer mail consisted of Almanac Beer Company, The Booth Brewing, Fallen River, Sudwerk Brewing, and one Sierra Nevada can. Ironically, while sitting out and enjoying me beer and reading, my friend Dan, who had gotten me the Tree House Brewing Company beers that let me do my series (Sap, Autumn, Julius, Haze, Doppelganger, and Intemperance), texted me that he was currently in the San Diego area of California. That he had just left Belching Beaver and was wondering if I knew of any other really good breweries in the area. (I let him know about Modern Times and Pizza Port, and then used Hop Plotter [which is going away soon by the way] to locate some others.) He told me you can’t walk more than five minutes down the streets without running into a brewery there. Oh what a problem to have!
Other than just the name of this beer, the beer caught my attention for how interesting it is. Its a barrel aged, dry hopped sour. Seems like a very interesting combination to me. You don’t typically see barrel aged, sour, and dry hopped, all combined, let alone any combination therein (barrel aged sours, or dry hopped sours, or barrel aging and dry hopping), so this called out to me all the more for it.
The picture might be hard to read, and its not listed on their Untappd profile for the beer, so I’ll re-write it here:
“This is NOT a kettle sour. This mixed-culture farmhouse ale was aged in oak barrels with pear juice. A delicate dry-hop of Citra, Sabro, and Mosaic imparts a transcendent tropical aroma. Shine on! HOPS: Citra, Sabro, Mosaic. MALT: Admiral Pale, Oats, Wheat, Aromatic.”
So as you can see, there is definitely a lot going on with this bad boy.
Almanac Beer Company is a regional brewery out of Alameda California. According to Untappd, they have 286 unique beers listed with a global rating (as of 2.20.20) of 3.98. Their description on Untappd reads: “Our motto, “Farm-to-Barrel”, means brewing beers inspired by the great brewing traditions of the world with the best in locally sourced ingredients. Almanac Beer Company was founded in 2010 by Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan.”
Beer: Sunshine and Opportunity
Brewery: Almanac Beer Company
Style: Farmhouse Ale – Saison
IBU: None Listed
Hops: Citra, Sabro, Mosaic
Malts: Admiral Pale, Oats, Wheat, Aromatic
Untappd Write-Up: Mixed fermentation saison, aged in oak barrels and dry-hopped.
This is certainly an interesting beer. As I cracked it open, the aromatic and citrusy and summer smelling, sunshine beaming, fruity and citrusy hops burst free, the pear juice, burst free, all of these things just from cracking the can. I poured it into my Ffej of July glass, making me think about the super fun party in July and envisioning even more sunshine and great weather, it almost looked like pouring champagne. It bubbled, it was effervescent, it was bubbly and happy and excited to be poured out. Its bright yellow / orange / wheat like golden hue was bright, bubbly, looking like a cross between a pilsner, champagne, and a saison. It had a big white fluffy bubbly head, with huge interspersed and diverse bubbles. This guy was carbonated and ready to play. As I drank, it left lacing. And as I drank, it still bubbled, tickling your nose with little pops as you drank.
This is also jam packed with a variety of smells. It is definitely an aromatic beer. Your nose is getting a workout with this one. First impression of the nose is pear and citrus and sunshine hops. You get a definitive pear juice presence right off the bat, as well as the Citra, Sabro, and Mosaic dry hopping. Quick background on those three hops:
— Citra: “American aroma hop Citra was created by John I. Haas, Inc. and Select Botanicals Group joint venture, the Hop Breeding Company. It was released to the brewing world in 2008. Now one of the most coveted high-impact aroma hops in the US, particularly among craft brewers, it boasts a complex lineage that includes the likes of Hallertau Mittelfrüh (father), Tettnanger (US), Brewer’s Gold and East Kent Golding.” (Hopslist)
— Mosaic: “Released in 2012 by the Hop Breeding Company, LLC, Mosaic hops feature complex but clean flavor characteristics and are known for their triple-use profile encompassing bittering, flavor and aroma. They have high alpha acids but low cohumulone which makes them pleasantly hoppy, carrying flavors of mango, pine, citrus and herbs and aromas of tropical and stone fruit. Mosaic is the first daughter of Simcoe and Nugget as has been humorously referred to by some as “Citra on steroids”.” (Hopslist)
— Sabro: “Sabro is an aroma hop that is notable for its complexity of fruity and citrus flavors. It imparts distinct tangerine, coconut, tropical fruit, and stone fruit aromas, with hints of cedar, mint, and cream. Sabro’s pedigree is the result of a unique cross pollination of a female neomexicanus hop.” (Yakima Valley Hops)
So as you can see, these three hops really impart a very fruity, citrusy, juicy hop characteristic. Especially for aroma. Full of mango, citrus, spicy herbs, tangerine, stone fruits, tropical fruits like coconut, kiwi, passionfruit, stone fruits, you get a large rang of gamut with these hops. And they work kind of like a trifecta together. On top of the complexities of the dry hoping with these hops, and the strong presence of the pear juice, you get the distinct oakyness of the barrel aged process in which this beer went through, imparting it with the characteristics and notes of oak barrels. This is a bit fainter, especially on the nose, but the oak is there, as well as some of the spices and the yeast strain notes that accompany farmhouse saisons and ales, a bit of a background funkyness that you know is trying to peak and stick its head through when nobody is looking.
Enough blabbering about appearance and smell, lets get to the fun part of beer – drinking it. Do you have socks on? You better have shoes on too then, because if you don’t, first sip is going to knock those socks right off. One sip, first sip, barely in your mouth, and you get an explosion of complexities. You get the dry hopping, you get the pear juice, you get the oak barrel aging, you get the funkyness of farmhouse ales and saisons, you get a full rich and immersive beer on that first sip. So lets try and break this down (if I can!). Breaking it down by drinking it is the best approach I think because this beer changes as you drink, and you get more of the complexities evening out into their own compartments and it gets kind of sectionalized. First as you take your sip, those bubbles get you. This is almost like drinking champagne, I immediately felt the bubbles tickling my mustache, could feel the interesting yeast right away, a combination of champagne yeast and farmhouse saison style yeast. Beyond this then, you start to really pick up the pear juice, and this is where the tartness and a bit of the sweetness of the beer comes through. You get that funky Saison taste, that deep tartness unlike sours (or kettle sours or even berliner weisse’s), you get a funky, resonating tart with pear notes. Then blammo the hops take over. You get the citrus and sunshine bright hops exploding like mortar blasts all around you, like the trailer of 1917 as the guy is running criss-cross through the battlefield and blasts are going off around him. Citra. BAM. Mosaic. BAM. Sabro. BAM. Pop. Pop. Pop. BAMMMM. You get citrus, tangerine, coconut, pineapple, mango, more pear, kiwi and passionfruit, some cedar, some pine, stone fruits like plum and apricot, all blending in the hops and exploding rapid fire around you. And finally, you are left with the oak, the oakyness of the barrels, like a lasting, impression on your tongue as the beer fades away. It adds to that funkyness, it adds to the tartness, and it really brings out the Saison and Farmhouse aspects of the beer. The beer is also only a 5.8% so there’s not even really a buzz afterwards. There is nothing cloying, or upsetting about this, nothing heavy, or too dry, the juice is there, the tart is there, its slightly thin, but not problematically. This is just all around unique, tasty, and fun to drink.
My Untappd Rating: ****
Global Untappd Rating: 3.85 (as of 2.20.20).
I am currently in the process of going back and editing a bit of some of the recent blog posts. Namely, the Loki – Wild IPA, the Valentine’s Day Beers, I Cannot Tell a Lie, and the Back to Reality. Adding some references and stuff to the beer titles and things like that. Nothing altering the actual review of the beer, but just providing some extra information about the beer, its name, cultural underpinnings of it all, etc.
As I said in my last reviews, Back to Reality and Intemperance, we are really starting to hit our stride here at The Beer Thrillers. I will be on several podcasts in the near future – Might Be Brews, Beers with Strangers, and the one with my friends So A Mexican and A Scot Walk Into a Bar…, as well as lots of writing news as well. Invites to Rubber Soul Brewing opening (or re-opening) in Hummelstown (my hometown), Liquid Noise, and an interesting e-mail about doing some writing about breweries for Visit Hershey. (This could be potentially about the brewery that might be opening at the Chocolate Town area – which will be the new entrance to Hershey Park. I don’t know for sure, but I’m eagerly awaiting this meeting with the representative to find out more and let you all know.)
We are up to 412 followers on Facebook now, which is absolutely fantastic, and 128 followers on Twitter. We are currently listed as the # 9 blog on FeedSpot’s Top 100 blogs. The blog is certainly growing, we just hit 150 total posts recently (this is post number 152). The blog has only been live since near the end of May 2019. I am very excited for the growth its gone through and its continual growth. Our friends at LetUsDrinkBeer blog are also about to have their latest review of a brewery from Georgia for us.
We are primarily a Central PA beer blog, but we are also very much more, we’re doing beer reviews of beers from all over thanks to beer mail trades as well as Tavour (J. Doncevic’s favorite), we are also hitting up a lot of beer events this year (upcoming for me will be the AC Brewfest in early April as well as Little Big Beer Fest, and J. Doncevic will be hitting the big Prototype Invitational with Rotunda Brewing. With the guys from LetUsDrinkBeer, we are reporting on stuff down in Georgia. We are also getting invites to podcasts and writing for other blogs as well as brewery openings and events too. So we are going to have no shortage of things to report on. And with the guys from Default Brewing, we’ll have more homebrewing articles in the upcoming months as well. (Fingers crossed they’ll get something posted soon.)
For those interested, the books behind the beer in this blog post are: “I Am C-3PO” by Anthony Daniels, and “Desert Wisdom” by Yushi Nomura and Henri J.M. Nouwen. You can read my reviews of books at my GoodReads page.
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Thank you everyone, and cheers, and enjoy these all too few beautiful February days!