Over the last 3 years, AltBrau has had the opportunity to work with some great brewers who we consider good friends. As our relationships in the industry have expanded and grown we've been fortunate to meet more amazing brewers, bartenders, sales reps, and other creative types to add to our circle of friends.
While attending the RateBeer Best Awards and Festival in Santa Rosa, CA we became acquainted with Trevor Rogers and Linsey Hamacher, the husband and wife team behind De Garde Brewing (Tillamook, OR), who produce some of the most sought after sour beers in the world. We all became quick friends after a fun night of drinking.
Trevor and Linsey's humility was made apparent over the course of our time together. The quality of their beer combined with their lack of pretentiousness was (and continues to be) inspiring to us as we navigate the future of this project we have started in this industry we love.
We knew we had to work with them on a beer if ever given the opportunity. With very little more than an elevator-pitch they agreed.
With our good friend Phillip Arellano sitting shotgun as our photographer/videographer, we hit the road to Oregon. We enjoyed all of the pleasures of the Pacific NorthWest and made sure to stop and visit our friend and local artist Rojer Serpas. He made us a few beautiful custom blown pint glasses to bring home. Next we headed to the Oregon coast to meet up with Trevor at their facility in Tillamook.
As with every collaboration, AltBrau makes a donation to a charity chosen by the host brewery. This time around, however, we were able to invite them to contribute to the beer itself. De Garde chose to work with longtime friends New Avenues For Youth.
New Avenues for Youth is a Portland based 501(c)3 non-profit established in 1997. Their mission is to provide programs for at-risk youth in need of food, shelter, education, and job training. Over 20,000 individuals have been served by New Avenues and their work continues to assist Portland's homeless population.
Jeremy Herrig and Andy Lopiccolo from NAFY joined Tim Decker from AltBrau and Trevor from DeGarde to discuss beer possibilities and taste a variety of barrels. With Trevor's huge library of barrel aged brews available at our disposal, we expected this blending to take several hours. Much to our surprise, we fell upon the right barrels at the right time. I credit Trevor and his staff for their intuition on which barrels to taste based on the concept we agreed upon.
Our plan was to create a blend containing local Oregon fruit with enough young beer that it would develop character over time from continued activity by the microflora found in sour beer fermentation (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, Brettanomyces, Pediococcus, etc). We also wanted enough aged beer to be included so the beer had lots of flavor without having to age it if the consumer wanted to enjoy the beer right away.
After eliminating a few options, it was decided the base beer was either going to be a cherry beer or marionberry beer (both aged in fouders). After tasting them both, blending them at different rates, and arguing over which one to do, Trevor suggested that we do two different blends.
Now we needed to find the aged addition to add some funky notes and complexity.
We found two barrels containing a 2 year old saison batch high in oats and wheat. Despite being the same beer in the same style barrel, each one tasted completely different. One had a very sour taste with medium brettanomyces aroma and lower on the wood character and "barn yard" character common in lambic style beers. The other barrel was much more complex on the nose with notes of leather, tobacco, and dried stone fruit.
We decided to blend the first barrel with the cherry base. The tart Montmorency cherries had a delicious cinnamon and vanilla quality that we didn't want to overpower. The marionberry base, on the other hand, was sweet and jammy with little additional spice character. The qualities of the 2nd sour saison barrel were a perfect addition.
Upon completing the blends, the question quickly arose of how the beer would be available to the public. Would it be on draft available at the brewery taproom? Bottles in the Oregon market.
It was decided that all of these beers would only be available on one special night.
Brews for New Avenues is an annual rare beer auction featuring special beers from the likes of Boneyard Brewing, Upright, Cantillon, and many others. Proceeds go to NAFY and their programs. This years auction will be held on Saturday, August 27th at the Leftbank Annex in Portland.
Our batch size on these beers will be enough for approximately 750 bottles (750ml) each. That translates to 1 bottle of each blend available for each VIP and general admission ticket sold. Any additional beer will be kegged for tasting at the event or possibly cellared and auctioned at next year's event.
We are incredibly proud to be a part of this release and will be flying in from Oakland to attend the auction.
Thank you to everyone at New Avenues For Youth for all the work they do and participating in this collab. Thank you to all the amazing folks at De Garde Brewing for their generosity and willingness to invite us into their wonderful brewery and barrel room.
We can't wait to pour the first bottle. See you in Portland.