If you haven’t been to Lancaster, PA in a while, things are getting a little funky. In a completely glorious way. Recently, three staples in the Lancaster craft beer scene held events centered around the joy of Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus… the heavenly sour beer.
First up, on Thursday, February 4, 2016 Hunger-N-Thirst held an Almanac Tap Invasion. Almanac Brewing Company, based in San Francisco, California, started distributing to Pennsylvania in October 2015.
The event featured sought-after sours from Almanac including Farmer’s Reserve Blueberry, Peach De Brettaville, Truthful Statement, and one of my personal favorite beers from Almanac, Hoppy Sour: Mandarina. The sours were served in 8-ounce pours for $8.
- Farmer’s Reserve Blueberry is a 7% ABV sour golden ale with hand-picked blueberries from Butte County, California aged in wine barrels.
- Peach De Brettaville is the brett saison Saison Dolores fermented with twelve different brettanomyces strains, and aged it in wine barrels and foeders with peaches and nectarines.
- Truthful Statement is a dark sour ale inspired by classic Old Fashioned cocktails. The 9% ABV velvety imperial stout is fermented with the house sour culture, then aged it in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels with sweet Bing cherries and freshly zested oranges.
- Hoppy Sour: Mandarina is a wine barrel-aged sour blonde ale blended with a foeder-fermented brett saison with Mandarina Bavaria hops added. This hop variety is the daughter of Cascade and Hallertau.
In addition to the popular sours, other offerings on tap from Almanac included Horatcha Almond Milk Stout and Barbary Coast, a 10% ABV imperial stout brewed with cacao nibs, chili pepper, oak, and sea salt.
Next up, Iron Hill Brewery & Restaurant in Lancaster held their annual Make It Funky event on Saturday, February 6, 2016. The event was originally scheduled to take place in January, but was rescheduled due to the “Blizzard of 2016.”
From noon to 4 PM, visitors could groove to the ‘70s with eight taps featuring barrel-aged and sour beers. The staff was decked out in ‘70s gear and swag, and the restaurant featured disco-themed decor.
The sours on tap included Oud Bruin, a deep red Flemish brown ale; La Flama Blanca, a Berliner Weisse aged in tequila barrels; Kriek, an unfiltered Belgian-style lambic aged in oak barrels with sour cherries; and Raspberry Torte, the house porter aged in red wine barrels that had previously aged a Framboise.
In addition to the sour beers, several barrel aged beers were on tap including Bourbon Porter, Bourbon FE10, Bourbon Winston Churchill, and Bourbon Russian Imperial Stout.
The first 40 members to purchase an event beer sampler received a free Make It Funky pint glass. Several food specials were available during the event to pair with the featured beers.
The final event of the week was New Belgium Brewing’s Lost In The Woods Sour Beer Release Party by The Fridge and The Beer Ace, one stop on a multiple city release party to celebrate the release of New Belgium Brewing’s 2016 vintages of La Folie and Transatlantique Kriek.
The Fridge was transformed for the event with New Belgium art throughout the space and tree branches artfully hanging from the ceiling. The beer list was even displayed on each table in a small piece of tree trunk.
Tickets included swag, entertainment, food, and most importantly, beer. Each attendee received a flight of 5 New Belgium beers from a list that included La Folie, Transatlantique Kriek, NBB Love Blackberry Felix, Citradelic Tangerine IPA, Rampant Double IPA, Side Trip Belgian-Style Pale Ale, 1554 Black Lager, and Fat Tire Amber Ale.
- La Folie, French for “the folly,” is a wood-aged, sour brown that spends up to three years in foeders. La Folie is sharp and sour, full of green apple, cherry, and plum-skin notes.
- Transatlantique Kriek is brewed in partnership with Old Beersel, a 130-year-old lambic brewery in Belgium. This spontaneously fermented lambic ale is made with sour cherries. The 2016 edition began life in the oaken vessels of Oud Beersel, then blended with tart cherries and shipped to New Belgium and blended with sour Felix.
- NBB Love Blackberry Felix is a very rare sour from New Belgium. Felix, which is one of the two base beers used to create La Folie, is aged in a blackberry whiskey barrel from Leopold Brothers in Denver, Colorado.
Tickets to the event also included unlimited trips to the buffet of venison stew, vegetarian chili, risotto cakes, stuffed mushrooms, and poutine. Live music was provided by August John Lutz II from Levee Drivers.
Attendees went home with plenty of New Belgium swag including a large format bottle of either La Folie 2016 or Transatlantique Kriek, an Old Meets New snifter glass, Lost In The Woods bottle opener, and stickers.
All three events were well attended and enjoyed by all. It just goes to show that Lancastrians will in fact drink more than German lagers. Of course I think most of us knew that for a while now!