The State of Sours: An update on Minnesota’s funkiest beers

Wild Mind Artisan Ales

WildMindArtisanAles-40

Wild Mind Artisan Ales is ready to open the doors on their South Minneapolis brewery. Founder Mat Waddell plans to have roughly 12 of his 16 draft lines dedicated to wild and farmhouse-style ales, while also carrying a few more familiar styles like pale ale and stout.

Waddell is creating his own library of yeast cultures that includes samples from Minneapolis, St. Paul, and near Elk River. “The yeast I’ve harvested has been surprisingly unique,” Waddell says. “The one I got in my backyard is almost a funkier version of a wit, a similar Belgian profile. A good portion of our house yeast has a blend with microflora around us. Our pale ale has a really fruity, funky, dry profile, not the overly ripe pineapple that some Brett strains produce.”

At the beginning, Wild Mind will serve quick-conditioned beers with minimal acidity or complexity, introducing different saisons that feature local microflora and Brett. Once the launch beers are ready, Waddell says, he’ll fill his foudres and let time run its course. He expects the first wood-fermented saison to come out in three to four months, followed by another saison shortly after, then a longer-aged batch anywhere from six to 12 months later.

Bank Brewing

Bank Brewing Featured Image

Bank Brewing

Richard Drawdy has been making Sour Bomb at Bank Brewing in Hendricks, Minnesota, for two years. “Back when I first started making Sour Bomb, there were no tart wheat beers on the store shelves or restaurant taps,” he says. “That has since changed. I’ve been amazed to see the extent to which eastern South Dakota and western Minnesota has begun to embrace sour beer.”

Sour Bomb starts with a base of Rahr Premium Pilsner and white wheat malts. Drawdy then uses what he calls “an old-school, natural, wild, hot-side souring technique” to create “a tartness that is complex, with green apple and lemon-like aromas and flavors.” The wild souring technique allows for variance with the seasons, making each batch slightly different, he says. Sour Bomb clocks in at 4.6% ABV, 8 IBU, and 3.4 pH.

Drawdy plans to release Overdraft – In the Red Sour Ale in time for Bank’s annual Oktoberfest party on September 24. Future plans for sours include a continued expansion of fruit-infused Sour Bomb varieties, including passion fruit, raspberry, and mango/pineapple.

Eastlake Craft Brewery

Eastlake Kirby Pucker #8: Beet Generation // Photo via facebook.com/eastlakemgm

Eastlake Kirby Pucker #8: Beet Generation // Photo via facebook.com/eastlakemgm

Eastlake Craft Brewery in Midtown Global Market has been experimenting with sours in its Kirby Pucker Series. Eastlake founder and head brewer Ryan Pitman got hooked on sours when he opened the first bottle of his one-year-old homebrewed sour beer. “Sour beers are mostly what I want to drink,” he says about what prompted him to start the Kirby Pucker Series.

The series has also allowed Pitman to explore the category and scratch his creative itch as a brewer. “It’s kind of a blank slate where there’s so much you can do with it. There’s a lot of traditional sour beers, but there’s also a lot of experimentation going on right now.”

The Kirby Pucker Series is Pitman’s way to experiment with different kinds of sour beers. As with any experiment, the results have been mixed—the first beer in the series didn’t turn out the way Pitman envisioned. “It was just kind of a lightly tart saison, so we didn’t do another for another couple months because I wanted to do some more research and talk to other brewers. I learned a lot from Allyson [Rolph] at Thirsty Pagan. She was phenomenal about how much she taught me in just a one-hour visit.”

The biggest takeaways for Pitman were lessons on pH control and finding novel sources for lactic-acid producing microbes, including strains of Pediococcus from yogurt and sauerkraut. “There’s a really cool Pedio in sauerkraut that doesn’t get ropey like a lot of other Pedio does.”

Pitman used the sauerkraut culture in Kirby Pucker #8: Beet Generation, a beet-infused gose made for this year’s Beer Dabbler at Twin Cities Pride craft beer festival. In addition to 50 pounds of shredded beets purchased from the grocery store in Midtown Global Market, Pitman used a mix of pickling spices, including coriander, red pepper flakes, black peppercorns, mustard seeds, and salt, to create a  bright-magenta colored sip of earthy vegetable and tangy sour unlike any beer we’ve tasted in the Twin Cities thus far.

The next installment in the series, Kirby Pucker #9, was just released and features more local produce. The new gose was made with rhubarb, sorrel, and basil grown at Garden Farme in Ramsey, Minnesota, and was fermented with a strain of Brettanomyces. As the Kirby Pucker Series rolls on, expect more experimental sours and even some traditional barrel-aged sours.

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