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

Fulton Brewing Company

Fulton-Sours

Head brewer Mikey Salo at Fulton Brewing Company has been dabbling in the art of mixed-fermentation at their downtown Minneapolis brewery and taproom for a couple years now. The brewery has released a few of their mixed-fermentation offerings on draft in their taproom and in 750-milliliter bottles—including a two-version collaboration project with New Orleans’ NOLA Brewing.

Recently, Fulton brought a “barrel-fermented Brett IPA” called Tanager to this year’s All Pints North festival. Coming in at a quaffable 6.7% ABV, Tanager was brewed using Saccharomyces Bruxellensis Trois for primary fermentation. (Bruxellensis Trois actually used to be considered a strain of Brettanomyces but through genetic identification White Labs has recently re-classified it as a strain of Saccharomyces with “Brett-like characteristics.”) The beer is then barrel-conditioned for three months with 12 different strains of Brettanomyces and blended in a stainless steel tank and dry-hopped with Equinox hops.

Junkyard Brewing

Junkyard interior

“I think sour beers are important to craft brewing because it further illustrates just how diverse and complex craft beer can be,” says Junkyard Brewing head brewer Dan Juhnke. “We get people coming in to our taproom all the time that aren’t ‘beer drinkers,’ but love one of our sours because they are full of flavor not usually associated with ‘beer’ as they knew it.”

Junkyard first started making sour beers a little over a year ago, beginning with the Saskatooner, made with Saskatoon berries sourced from Manitoba. Since then, they’ve continued playing with the style with their Experimental Sour Series, which “is basically just a way for us to ferment our base sour with new fruits, flowers, herbs, and other ingredients without having to resubmit registration and brand another product,” Juhnke explains.

Junkyard doesn’t set its brewing schedules beyond a couple of weeks, so there’s no saying which sour iteration they might have on tap. In June, it was Peachy Keen (a peach sour dry-hopped with mosaic). You’ll have to visit their Moorhead taproom to find out what they’ll kettle-sour next.

Forager Brewery

Foraging with Forager Brewing, Photo by Louis Garcia // Growler Magazine

Foraging with Forager Brewing, Photo by Louis Garcia // Growler Magazine

A few beers from Forager Brewery incorporate the natural yeasts and bacteria present on the skins of local fruit in a kind of semi-wild fermentation.

“Right now we’ve got three base sours that are pretty much ready to go,” Austin Jevne said on a recent foraging trip. “We just have to get the right blends from the barrels and then pick the fruit additions that will help bring those beers to an area I don’t think we’d be able to get without the fruit and barrel blending.”

They made a Flanders-style red last year with cherries called Cherry Darlin’. A recent crop of black cap raspberries will be frozen before being used in Funky Dangerfield, a Flanders red ale, and possibly two more sours. And Jevne’s 200th batch called for something special in the brewery, so he made a barrel-fermented imperial sour brown. Look for this beer around the winter holidays.

Read more about how Forager Brewing lives up to its name.

Next page: More Minnesota-made sours

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