Our September Rare Beer Club Exclusive, Vérifiez vos Fruits!, a sour fruited Belgian strong ale aged in merlot oak barrels, was just blended. Brandon is quite pleased with how it’s progressing. We know you’re going to dig this one.
Can we talk about sours for a minute here? You’ve no doubt noticed an uptick in sour beer production over the last few years. And quite a few of them are pretty approachable even for those who haven’t previously enjoyed them. Seems like every time we put a sour up to another beer in any given month, the sour is considerably more popular.
Of our 24 annual selections, we’ve run anywhere from 4-6 sours each year over the last 3 years. Thinking about doing more, but we want to make sure we’re keeping everyone happy as much as possible. One way to do it is to offer more sours via special offers. In fact, we’re thinking an ALL SOUR special offer. Okay, so we’re not just thinking it, we’re doing it. Anybody heard of O’so Brewing Company in Plover, WI? I hadn’t until one of the guys on our SEO team sent me a bottle of Space Ace Oddity, a one off run of a brett-fermented double dry-hopped Belgian white IPA made to commemorate the work of David Bowie. Really nice beer. We liked it so much that we’re having them brew us another batch just for our members which will be featured in May this year. But we’re talkin’ about sours here, right? Right. Marc Buttera, founder, CEO and super cool cat, sent me a care package like I have not received in a few years that included twelve 750s, half of them pretty damned amazing sours. It was really hard to pick just 4, but we suffered through it and are running with the following in our July 2017 RBC special offer:
On top of that, we’ve already got 7 sours slotted for 2017 and are looking to lock down on an 8th, including offerings from AleSong, Mystic, Panil, Sudwerk and an exclusive from Jolly Pumpkin.
I’d love to hear any and all thoughts you have on the direction we’re taking!
Wanna win a 6 month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club® Of course you do. Who wouldn’t? Well, you’re going to have to do some work then, okay? You good with that part? It’s kind of important that you’re good with that part. Although, it’s not really work if you generally associate work with things that aren’t fun. Trust me, you can have fun with this one. One of the past winners of this particular project was an 8.5% smoked Dopplebock that was given one of my all time all-time favorite names…Prostator!
We need help naming a beer people.
This contest is our annual collaboration with Pints for Prostates, and this year Rick has secured Yazoo Brewing and the celebrated head of their sour program, Brandon Jones, to create a beer to help PFP educate dudes about getting properly screened for prostate cancer. Suffice to say…It’s a really worthy cause.
It’s always fun to jump on a call with a brewer and see what kind of creative ideas they’re kickin’ around on their pilot system or what glorious goodness awaits in a barrel program. Talking to Brandon didn’t disappoint. In his words, “I have a batch of an incredible merlot french oak barrel aged aged sour and Brettanomyces Belgian Golden Strong ale we are going to fruit with a combo of blackberries, tart cherries and raspberries. The base beer before fruit is showing nice character of pepper, dark fruit, and bright lemon lime.”
There was a long pause on the call and then Rick and I simultaneously and resoundingly said, “WE’RE IN”!
Suffice to say, it’s gonna be a pretty sweet offering and we’re really fired up about it.
Here’s what you need to know to play kids.
Although the new beer will only be available to members of The Rare Beer Club, both members and non-members are invited to enter the contest and submit up to three names for the new beer. The contest officially begins on Wednesday, May 24th, 2017. Entrants will have until 2 pm PDT on Monday, June 12th, to submit up to three names.
Finalists will be chosen by The Rare Beer Club, Pints for Prostates, and Yazoo Brewing Company on Wednesday, June 14th, at which time contestants, club members, and the general public can vote for their favorite name. The winning entry will be announced on Thursday, June 22nd and the contest winner will receive a 6-month, 2-bottle membership to The Rare Beer Club.
To receive this special beer, and many more, join The Rare Beer Club online or call 800-625-8238. Be sure to start your membership by September 2017, or earlier, to receive this exclusive beer from Yazoo Brewing Company.
This month’s featured Space Ace Oddity is bottle-conditioned with Brettanomyces, which adds significant layering of tropical flavors and aromatics to that beer. I recently finished reading a sample copy of Michael Tonsmeire’s American Sour Beers (Brewers Publications), which heads into a serious and wisely focused study into how the most influential U.S. sour-beer brewers are handling things like different combinations of Brett strains and souring bacteria, aging on wood (and elsewhere), spontaneous fermentation (and wild-yeast wrangling), and a great deal of the process-based nuance and personal flair that goes into making these complex beers. It also has a detailed section about how ten key places—New Belgium, Jolly Pumpkin, Russian River, Lost Abbey / Pizza Port, Cambridge, Captain Lawrence, The Bruery, Cascade, Ithaca, and Allagash—approach sour beer production (including production-schedule flowcharts).
It’s pretty geeky and glorious stuff. And, in the context of The Rare Beer Club, many of these are familiar names. I rummaged through my collection of rare empties to see what I’d tasted and kept around that was mentioned in the book, snapping photos for Instagram, obviously, but my oldest experiences with at least a few formative beers in the book came from orders I must have placed with The Rare Beer Club like a dozen years ago. My first taste of Pizza Port Cuvee de Tomme—a hugely influential beer with raisin puree, sour cherries, and three house strains of Brettanomyces, created by Tomme Arthur—was through The Rare Beer Club back in March 2005. Ditto for Rodenbach Grand Cru, a feature in January 2006, and Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire (August 2007) and Weizen Bam (July 2008). Either I or someone else in our DC tasting crew snagged it via The Rare Beer Club. While I’d shortly thereafter leave the country and subsist on Nicaraguan lager for a number of long months, these and similarly formative beers were a big part of why I started writing about the drink professionally when I got back. If you’ve been digging the sour stuff for a bit—Tonsmeire’s book offers top-notch nostalgia.
You made it clear to us that quite a few of you wanted more hops. Actually, only hoppy beers to be specific. We stuck our toe in the water earlier in the year and officially offered our members a way to customize their shipments each month, essentially calling us at the beginning of the month, finding out what the featured beers were and having us put only the hop-centric ones in their box that month. It was better than nothing, but in the end, not optimal because you guys had to remember to call us and if only one or two of the four featured beers were aggressively hopped, you’d only get one or two beers that month.
So we’ve been quietly working with a lot of different breweries, better understanding how much it would cost to deliver a club that only features kick-ass, hoppy beers each month. Not just IPAs mind you. That would be so limiting, and you’d miss out on some really amazing hoppy beers. Brewers are creating styles faster than ever. More and more, you can’t easily categorize a beer neatly into any given style. Take for example Mikkeller’s Wit Fit, which the brewery describes as a hoppy imperial wit. Clearly not an IPA, but I’m here to tell you, Hop-heads will love this beer as it delivers plenty of citric, floral, and resinous notes, some acidity, and a clinging bitterness that hangs on in the finish. Don’t panic. We’re going to run a ton of IPAs in the club. In fact the majority of what we feature will be IPAs, but we’re also going to run India Pale Lagers (IPLs), hoppy Red and Pale Ales, and other hop-centric beers. Hops are obviously the key ingredient used to balance the malty sweetness in a beer’s flavor profile, but they also contribute some pretty amazing aromatics and flavors so we’re not just focusing on beers that have crushingly bitter hop profiles, but also beers that explore the many hop flavors and aromas available to today’s brewers.
The club will feature two or more breweries each month and we’ll even drop in an import in there from time to time when it makes sense. There are some really neat breweries out there now like Mexico’s Agua Mala and Germany’s BRLO that are crafting outstanding American style IPAs and other hoppy styles that are just now making their way to the American marketplace. That said, I expect something like 90% of our featured beers to come from US breweries. We’re gonna send ya twelve, 12-oz. beers in each shipment, 3 different beers (4 bottles or cans of each).
We’ve got some pretty sweet beers lined up for our inaugural shipment in November, including Route 1A, an 8.2% ABV big, boldly flavored Double IPA from Ipswich Brewery in Massachusetts. You’re gonna dig it.
No one else is doing anything quite like this in the market today, so naturally we’re really excited about this club and hope you are too!