Week 29 in The Year Of Drinking Adventurously. Sour Beer.
Sour beers are a strange and wonderful thing. The next three weeks of our virtual booze cruise is going to explore Belgium and the “styles” of beer that have been brewed there for centuries before being exported and replicated by the craft beer movement here in the United States. And believe me, if there’s one thing the Belgians do right, it’s beer. Well, and chocolate, too.
Additionally, the author has given me the opportunity to show some hometown love. Monk’s Cafe, a Belgian style bar in Philadelphia, is actually featured in our guide The Year Of Drinking Adventurously. But I’m sticking even closer to home for this post. I’m going to introduce you to the beers produced in my favorite local microbrewery Freewill Brewing in Perkasie, Pennsylvania.
Over the next two weeks, I’m going to use Freewill’s brews as my basis for writing. If I have time, I’m going to interview one of the brewmasters for next week.
Freewill has an excellent selection of sour beers and they even feature them in their tasting room every week on “Sour Sunday.” They don’t have a kitchen so they regularly invite food trucks (restaurants on wheels) from Philadelphia and the surrounding area to come and park outside for the afternoon. It creates a fantastic and festive atmosphere. Ah, but back to the beers…
From their website:
Our lambics are fermented with our house blend of wild yeasts, and beer-friendly bacteria, to create a superior complexity in this sour ale. Notes of lavender, spice, fruity esters, and the general funk one expects from a lambic, give way to a bright, clean, yet sour character.
Our lambics are aged directly on fresh fruit in the traditional fashion, and special attention is given to the old-world process of blending different batches to create the perfect final product. These beers can be aged in the brewery up to several years, and are released at their peak.
As they are bottle conditioned, these lambics can be aged for up to five years to allow for continuing development of flavor.
Besides the regular sours they have on tap, they have several seasonal beers released in the spring. From their website:
Blood & Guts – 6.1% ABV Spring Release
This black ale fermented with our own sour culture, on top of second-use cherries, in the traditional style of a kriek lambic is a Free Will original. Notes of chocolate, and a mild roasty character are combined with the funk and complexity of wild yeast, and balanced by a clean sour note that follows you through the finish, where the cherry character shines through. Pair this beer with korean bbq or rich creamy pasta dishes.
Whit – 4.7% ABV
A sour ale brewed with cranberries. This beer’s light bready malt character serves as an undertone to fruity, lavender, and herbal notes created by our own sour culture. The cranberry gives a subtle note in both the aroma and taste of this dry and complex ale. Pair this beer with swordfish, or fried chicken (a Free Will lunch time favorite).
Cuvee Aigre – 7.0% ABV
A mature oak-aged sour ale with prominent flavors of white grape, dried fruit, and a slight vanilla finish. Tart and refreshing.
Over time, I’ve sampled all the regular sours but the Key Lime. The Barbera Grape is my favorite. If you aren’t a beer aficionado, lambic and sour beer might be a good introduction. I would compare them more closely to cider than traditional beer. The fruit overtones are unmistakeable. And with crisp carbonation, light body they are a perfect refreshing drink for the summer. So my mission this week is to spend some time with the brew masters, sample some of the season releases and have a little more to share with you next week!
And please visit Lula to see how she enjoyed her beer.