When AltBrau began in 2013 we never imagined we would have the opportunity to work alongside some of our favorite breweries or pour our creations at some of the best beer events. A short five years later and we are happy to announce several upcoming collaborations, the progress we are making in our test batches/home brew, and where you will be able to try our beer...
Collaboration: Tioga Sequoia
On April 20th we drove a few hours south to our hometown of Fresno, CA. Our friends at Tioga Sequoia Brewing Co. opened up the doors to their brewhouse and taproom and we brewed something a little outside their comfort zone. TSBC are known locally for their aromatic IPAs and crisp lagers and in the beer trading community for their adjunct and barrel aged stouts. So... of course... we went a totally different direction for our collaboration.
Using their 2bbl pilot brewhouse we split a batch into two Speidel fermenters and pitched Lactobacillus Plantarum (a souring bacteria). The next day we returned and pitched 2 different Brettanomyces isolates from The Yeast Bay.
In a few more weeks we will return to check that they are done fermenting before dry hopping and packaging. We will also be sure to visit our parents this time (sorry mom).
Collaboration: FreeWheel Brewing & South City Ciderworks
Back in August of 2016 we worked with FreeWheel Brewing Co., known for their English style ales, to see what a saison on cask would be like. It was a very popular option in their taproom that summer so we wanted to make an equally refreshing option for their customers this summer. Our goal is something a little unusual... a largely undefined style referred to as "Graf" which is a hybrid between beer and cider.
We brewed a wort utilizing english malts and hops and called our friends at South City Ciderworks to get some of their house juice blend. We added the juice to the wort (about 35% juice by volume) and fermented with an Belgian Abbey style yeast that was actually isolated from a from a Belgian-style beer produced by a brewery in the North-Eastern United States.
You can expect to find this refreshing 5%-6% experiment on draft in the San Francisco Bay Area in the next couple months.
Collaboration: Shady Oak Barrel House
In our last blog we covered our recent collaboration with Steve Doty at Shady Oak Barrel House and our experiment with dried Persian limes. That beer, released under Steve's "Cellar Wizard" series came out great. This, however, was not the first of our efforts with SOBH to create an awesome beer.
Roughly 8 months ago we began working with Steve and he started teaching us about sourcing barrels, wort, working with funky yeast and bacteria, etc. With our creative input and utilizing some of the connections we had made, SOBH filled a few with a saison base and fermented it with cultures from Nick Impellitteri at The Yeast Bay in San Leandro, CA.
These beers have now been packaged and are currently conditioning in bottles and keg. We will be releasing a tart, mixed-culture saison hopped with Czech Saaz and a golden sour ale hopped heavily with Ekuanot. You can expect to see these in July.
Due to our involvement in every step of the creation of these beers, we feel these releases will most closely represent the styles of beer you can expect from AltBrau when we launch our commercial operation.
Homebrewing: Research and Development
Although we have stayed very busy with collaborations, we have made sure to make time for small batch experimentation and recipe testing. These 3-8 gallon batches serve as the basis for our future commercial releases and it's important that we learn as much as we can about ingredient interactions, how much carbonation to shoot for, and the behavior of various yeast strains.
We recently had some issues with some of our wild yeast/bacteria captures and had to dump several bottles. It may seem easy to do so on such a small batch, but it was still heartbreaking. We cannot, however, allow subpar product to become part of our normal operations at any scale and we plan to be just as diligent about quality when we reach a commercial scale... even if that means dumping a barrel.
On a positive note... we've also had some great results from a recent batch where we used a Nordic farmhouse yeast (Kviek) along with Brettanomyces to create a delicious beer. We bottled that experiment as well as a mixed culture saison, and a blend of those two with authentic Belgian lambic.
So where can you try these beers?
Event: Carnivale Brettanomyces
Every year in Amsterdam the world of wild, sour, funky, and spontaneously fermented beers gather at Carnivale Brettanomyces. Over the course of four days a combination of professional and amateur brewers and blenders are featured at several local beer bars, breweries, and restaurants and a wide variety of beverages are served.
AltBrau has had the distinct honor of being invited to pour our beers at the homebrewers event on Thursday June 21st at Oedipus Brewing. If you'd like to try our collaboration beers with Shady Oak or our recent test batches this is the perfect place.
Throughout the weekend you will also be able to try beers from such producers as Drie Fonteinen, Trillium, Bokkereyder, Saint Somewhere, h.ertie, and many many others. We are excited to attend a dinner featuring the beers of Tommie Sjef and to see our friends (and old collaborators) Trevor and Linsey Rogers from De Garde.
Of course, we wouldn't be able to visit Europe without reaching out to some of the other up-and-coming breweries that will be pouring at Carnivale Brett to see if we could do a collaboration...
Collaboration: Antidoot Wilde Fermenten
Antidoot is the creation of Tom and Wim Jacobs, two brothers from Kortenaken, Belgium, about 90 minutes outside of Brussels. Like AltBrau, they making the transition from homebrewers to commercial operation. On their property they have constructed their own farmhouse brewery and barrel house and create beers using native/indigenous yeast and bacteria that grows amongst their grape vine and apple trees (they also make wine and cider).
We have been invited to stay on the farm in the days following Carnivale Brettanomyces (they will pouring as well) and we plan to brew a few batches on their system. We will be joined by a few other friends and brewers on these collaborations including Aiden from Bretty Fingers and staff from Nevel Artisan Ales.