Green Bench Brewing Company - Alice
- ABV: 5.5%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 50–57° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Lambic Tumbler, or Chardonnay Glass
Green Bench Brewing’s Alice has seen very limited distribution thus far, with only about 25 cases sold in the U.S. over the past year. This was a one-off creation from Green Bench and, while it’s possible the brewery could bring it back at some point, they’re pretty sure the base beer is completely gone by now, such that the earliest next release would be 2021. This was produced at Green Bench’s Webb’s City Cellar, which houses their barrel-aging facility.
Alice presents beautifully in the glass, pouring a vibrant golden-orange color, appearing both honeyed and peach-like, along the lines of nectar. This golden sour ale is capped by solid off-white foam supported by strong retention and lacing, leaving a firm perimeter of bubbles. A vibrantly tart aroma appears right the beginning, with the initial impression emphasizing the notes of lemon, ripe tangerine, and a hint of salty cheese, with some subtly funky undertones that had us thinking of lambic. The impact of the foeder and wine barrels provides a layered oak impact, with vanilla and almond supporting the core citrus and tropical fruits here. This is mouthwatering and expansive from the start: vibrant, fresh, packed with fruit character.
We’ve gotten to sample some amazing IPAs and complex sour ales from Green Bench over the years, but Alice stood out as arguably the best release from the Webb’s City Cellar barrel-aging program we’ve sampled to date. This beer just turned out so good. There’s firm acidity and citrus expression from the start, with clear expression of lemon curd and tangerine, with a boldly presented, definitely tart, mixed-culture fermentation. This is bracingly tart with that first sip, but quickly expands into all different areas, packed with complex underpinnings of toasty oak, vanilla, almond, custard, and pear. There’s a ton going on here, in terms of oak, wine-barrel impact, and tannic structure. Modest carbonation and acidity keep this seeming quite lean, but still properly rounded overall. There’s some subtle funk throughout, keeping comfortably within a lambic-like vein, accompanied by a whole bunch of peaches, apricots, and pith. A beautiful, expansive golden sour ale from one of the best breweries in Florida.
This is a seamlessly constructed, firmly acidic sour ale, such that Alice should hold up quite nicely in one’s cellar for the next year or two. This is nicely rounded at the moment, but we could see some further complexity with additional aging. This golden sour ale’s focus on its bold acidity, oak, and fruit have us looking to creamy chevre or steamed mussels and frites.
Green Bench owners Steven Duffy, Nathan Stonecipher, and Khris Johnson started up Saint Petersburg’s first microbrewery back in 2013. Green Bench Brewing Co. was made to create unique craft beers, meads, and ciders while employing a variety of fresh, local ingredients. It took a while for the team to find the right partners for the venture, built around appreciation for their shared home of St. Petersburg, before brewery construction finally started in 2013.
The brewery’s name originates from the town of St. Petersburg itself, which was known as the “City of Green Benches” back in the early 1900s, due to the more than 3,000 benches lining the city’s downtown sidewalks. The iconic benches served as a meeting place for many of the city residents, but were also established during segregration and were off limits to the city’s Black population (as were many of the benefits of the downtown area). As the brewery puts it: “It is our intent to ring in a new era of the Green Bench, where the original spirit and purpose of the benches is truly available to all.” The name acknowledges the failings of their city’s past, while providing an inclusive space to continue moving St. Petersburg forward.
Green Bench currently produces around 12,000 barrels each year, with the main production housing around 20 fermenters: two 15-barrel tanks, a custom-built 25-hectoliter foeder, and 17 30-barrel fermenters, which the brewery currently fills by brewing double batches. Back in early 2019, the brewery opened Webb’s City Cellar, a second tasting room that also includes a barrel-aging facility for producing their mixed-culture sour and wild ales. The facility gets its name from Webb’s City Drug Store, known as the “World’s Most Unusual Drug Store”. The since-defunct destination opened in Saint Petersburg in the 1920s and ultimately comprised seven city blocks with 77 different departments, including a beauty salon, hardware store, meat market, and “Mermaid Show”. Webb’s City Cellar serves as home to Green Bench’s projects in mixed-culture fermentation and wood aging, as well as where they produce mead and cider. Highlights from this lesser-known side includes the mead The Darkest Timeline (a melomel with black currant, berries, and orange blossom honey) and the cider Pinellas Peach (peaches fermented with apple juice, and dry-hopped with Amarillo). For the latest info on visiting Green Bench Brewing Co. and Webb’s City Cellar, visit greenbenchbrewing.com.
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