Drinking Adventurously Local Edition

Week 30 in the Year Of Drinking Adventurously. Gueuze.

We’re still “in Belgium” this week for another style of brewed goodness. Gueuze is probably not a style of beer that you’ve heard of. But perhaps you’re familiar with the term lambic? Lambic beer arises from adding fruit to the wort (the boiled ingredients including grains and/or malted extracts and other additions like spices) and letting the flavors permeate the brew. Ingredients like cherries, strawberries, peaches, raspberries add a distinct fruitiness to the finished product. For non-beer drinkers, lambic may be a palatable option. Lambics remind me more of cider than traditional beer. Gueuze is a blend of Lambics. Usually, blending one, two and three year old brews together. The resulting combination facilitates a secondary fermentation and brings on natural carbonation.

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The taproom at Freewill

For this week’s adventure, I took a short ride to the next town over — Perkasie, Pennsylvania. Literally less than five miles from my house. Freewill Brewing Company has been around for a mere four years, but in that time have carved a niche in not just the local Bucks County and Philadelphia region but have also expanded into New Jersey, Delaware and the Boston area. One of their specialties? Sour beers. Perfect for researching this week and last week’s posts. This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to take the brewery tour and to talk to one of the Brewers, Hannah about the sour beers Freewill specializes in.

The “clean beer” is brewed and fermented on the main floor of the brewery. We aren’t really concerned with these beers this week.  Through a winding corridor and down a flight of stairs, we enter the “sour cellar” where the wild yeasts thrive and the dank, funky atmosphere provides the perfect conditions for making sour beer.

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Plastic fermenting totes and oak wine barrels

After boiling, the wort goes into huge plastic totes and the pieces of fruit are added.  There it sits burping away until such time it gets transferred to an aged oak barrel. For the purpose of sour beer aging, Freewill uses old wine barrels and in some cases, brace yourself, old grappa barrels! There it remains for a year or two.

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Grappa barrels from Italy

 

The sour beer varieties are then bottled and sold for consumption. One of the interesting things about the wild yeast: it self propagates and it evolves. The original strain was purchased several years back from another small brewery and its progeny has been fermenting Freewills’s sours ever since.

Since the varieties on tap in the taproom constantly change, the only sour I sampled this week was When Doves Cry: a Kettle Sour IPA with a 7.5% ABV. A collaboration with Evil Genius for Philly Beer Week, it’s a kettle sour with elderberries, notes of grapefruit and strawberries. Tart and refreshing.

The other beers in my flight were a saison, an American IPA and a spicy habanero Imperial Ale.  I brought home some bottles though. The Grape Sour and… made with Pennsylvania peaches “Peachy McPeachface” sour peach ale.

More beers from Belgium next week and if all goes well, another local adventure!

See how it “gueuze” with Lula!

Feeling a little chili

Week 7 of the Year of Drinking Adventurously!

So beer!  Yay!  We have left the realm of exotic potent potables and returned to a place I am familiar with – the land of beer!  You have no idea how excited I am!  Or maybe you do, I haven’t ended a sentence with anything but an exclamation point so far!

The first entry in the brew department is Chili Pepper beer, a subgenre of the micro- or craft brew movement.  According to Jeff’s book: 51fffcpqPZL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

Nothing pairs better with spicy food, than a chili pepper beer.  In fact, it leaves wine in the dust, much to the chagrin of wine snobs.   I went on a mission to find Left Hand Brewing Company’s Fade to Black Porter.  My pals at North Penn Beverage had it in stock!  Listen to the description:  Dried ancho, smoked Serrano, and brown chipotle peppers, infused in a dark mahogany, medium bodied porter. The resulting brew balances the vegetal, peppery heat with a subtle smokiness, making it a good companion for rich stews of assorted wild game.  It also kind of makes me want to go hunting.  (Kidding!)

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Mr. Sorick wearing shades so he can’t be identified in a line-up.

Alas, Harry, my situationally practical husband, pointed out that buying an expensive (ish) case of porter that only I would drink (because he is lame!), when we already have 2 full kegs of home brew and a case of Great Lakes Brewing Company’s Edmund Fitzgerald (which is also a porter), is kind of silly.

“But it’s for my blog!”  I whined.  “And it sounds so good!”

“Go look for it at Wegman’s,” he replied with a long-suffering sigh.  “At least, you can buy just a six-pack.”

“Fine,” I grumbled.  “No squirrel and turnip stew for you.”

But of course Wegman’s didn’t have the Fade to Black.  Grr.  So what I came home with was Tommyknocker Green Chile Lager pictured in the header.  And it was not at all what I wanted.  Now, I’m not going to bash the Tommyknocker* (cough!) because beneath the green chile flavor was a nice crisp lager.  I would absolutely consider trying some of the other varieties they brew.  They seem like a pretty cool little brewery.  Of course, not one to waste beer, I will find a way to use the Green Chile Lager.  It might actually make a good base for a marinade or be incorporated into an actual batch of chili.  Nevertheless, now I really need that Fade to Black Porter!  I considered venturing out in the snowstorm for it, but better judgement prevailed.  Then again, if I’d ended up in a ditch, at least Harry would have to acknowledge that it’s never practical to settle for something you don’t really want.

Don’t forget to check in with Lula and see what she drank this week!

*A little folklore from the side of the bottle:  “Tommyknockers slipped into the mining camps of Idaho Springs in the 1800s with the discovery of gold in our mountains and streams.  Those mischievous elves, though hardly ever seen, were often heard singing and working.  They guided many fortunate miners from harm’s way and to the gold they sought.”