Are you a fan of sour or wild ales? Not everyone is and that’s just fine by me. Fewer fans simply means there’s more for those of us who do enjoy them to drink. For those who do enjoy them though, we have some breweries here in the Northwest who excel at making incredible sour and wild ales, including Holy Mountain, Urban Family, Engine House Number 9, Cascade and more.
Though I’m a huge fan of Washington (and Oregon) brewed beers, I don’t hide the fact that several of my favorite breweries are, in fact, from California including one of my all time favorites: Firestone Walker Brewing Company. Firestone’s Barrelworks Wile Ale program has it’s roots all the way back in 2006, when Barrelworks’ Master Blender, Jim Crooks, took a trip to Belgium to work with Lauren Salazar (New Belgium Brewing). He returned with some dregs from one of their 15 or so Foeders and placed it into a French oak wine barrel of freshly filtered and un-carbonated Firestone DBA. This experiment was the foundation of what would eventually become Barrelworks’/Firestone Walker’s Agrestic Ale.
I had my first taste of Agrestic back in 2012 at a special Firestone Walker & Homebrew Chef dinner at Brouwer’s Cafe. It hadn’t been officially released to the public at that point, so it was a real treat to have a taste of one of Firestone’s first ever sour beers. Their Barrelworks Wild Ale program hasn’t slowed down and now boasts several sour/wild ales including SLOambic, Krieky Bones, Sour Opal and more. Now, Barrelworks is preparing to release batch No. 005 of their popular Bretta Rose, a Wild Ale fermented with raspberries. This is the first 2018 release from Firestone’s Barrelworks Wild Ale program.
Here is some more information about this release from Barrelworks/Firestone Walker Brewing Company:
Buellton, CA: What began with a pre-dawn excursion to a raspberry field last summer has come to fruition with the imminent release of Bretta Rosé Batch No. 005, the fifth iteration of this signature wild ale from Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks.
Bretta Rosé Batch No. 005 will begin rolling out next week to all Firestone Walker markets in limited draft and 375-ml bottle formats. It is the first of five bottled Barrelworks wild ale releases slated for 2018.
“Bretta Rosé began as a lark several years ago, when we made an inquiry with a local raspberry grower who offered us some fruit to play with,” said Barrelworks’ Master Blender Jim Crooks. “That first batch became one of our biggest hits, and we have since turned it into a very intentional annual release.”
Barrelworks was established five years ago as Firestone Walker’s dedicated stand-alone wild ale facility. It has since become known as a “cathedral of barrels” that produces an acclaimed variety of sour beers and hybrid ales.
The Making of Batch No. 005
On a foggy morning last summer, Crooks hit the road before dawn to embark on an annual rite—the selection of fresh raspberries for creating the next batch of Bretta Rosé.
He arrived at the packing house in Oxnard, California by 7 a.m., where he personally selected the best lots from pallets of raspberries picked the night before. That same afternoon, his chosen raspberries—all 10,000 pounds of them—were delivered to Barrelworks, and the making of the 2018 Bretta Rosé Batch No. 005 was now officially underway.
The fruit was immediately transferred to oak foeders, then blended with 16-month aged Bretta Weisse base beer and inoculated with Barrelworks’ proprietary brettanomyces yeast. The beer was then slow-fermented and matured on the berries for four months prior to racking and bottling.
The resulting 2018 Bretta Rosé features a brilliant rosé color with a raspberry perfume. Bracing acidity leads to a dry, refreshing finish with a hint of effervescence.
“We are taking advantage of the cornucopia of fresh fruit that is grown in our county,” said Barrelworks Director Jeffers Richardson. “Bretta Rosé showcases the vibrancy of fresh local raspberries, expressing amazing aromas, color and bright acidity.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company is a pioneering regional craft brewery founded in 1996 and located on the coast of California. Firestone Walker’s main brewery in Paso Robles produces a diverse portfolio ranging from iconic pale ales to vintage barrel-aged beers. The Barrelworks facility in Buellton makes eccentric wild ales, while the Propagator pilot brewhouse in Venice specializes in R&D beers and limited local offerings. For more information: FirestoneBeer.com.
Bretta Rose is set for release this week at Barrelworks in California and should start rolling out for limited distribution, including Seattle, by next week. If you’ve had Bretta Rose before, then you already know how amazing it is. If you haven’t, even if you don’t consider yourself a big fan of sour/wild ales, I suggest you give it a try. You’ll be glad you did.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.