I swung by the Calicraft booth at the most recent Great American Beer Festival to catch up, knowing Reserve Series Rosé was on the Rare Beer Club schedule later in the year. Calicraft opened in the East Bay back in 2012, such that we just missed including them in our release of The Northern California Craft Beer Guide, which came out the same year. My earliest coverage of these folks focused on their flagship ‘sparkling ale’ as part of a roundup of bières brut and their related brethren in RateBeer Weekly. Calicraft’s dry, crisp sparkling ale (Buzzerkeley) uses Champagne yeast and robust carbonation in a way similar to Deus and the various Malheurs of this sort—the Champagne-like beers that Michael Jackson, in a slim chapter in Great Beers of Belgium, referred to as bières brut (carefully tuned to avoid the Champagne region’s wrath).
I’d like to tell you the world’s now awash in these creamy, effervescent, Champagne-inspired beers. But Calicraft’s remained one of the main U.S. players working with Champagne yeast, both in this month’s featured Reserve Series Rosé as well as throughout the brewery’s Barrel Project series and beyond, continuing their focus on wine yeasts. Malheurs and Deus remain two reliable go-tos for formal bière brut. And a handful of other brewers are finding success, too, including New Zealand’s Garage Project with Hops On Pointe, a “Champagne Pilsner”.
Have you tried a Champagne-inspired beer before? Is your local doing a bière brut or some sort of sparkling ale worth checking out? Join the conversation on Twitter @rarebeerclub.