Almanac Beer Company has evolved a lot in the nearly three years we’ve existed. What started as a dream cooked up over batches of homebrew has become a business, a livelihood, and an active contributor to the craft beer community. Starting with the core idea of brewing beers inspired by the agriculture of Northern California, we’ve experimented with recipes, formats, branding and business models to evolve into the brewery we are today. To that end, we’re excited to share some news about the direction of the brewery moving forward.
From our very first release—a Belgian-style golden ale aged in wine barrels with Sonoma blackberries—we’ve been passionate about barrel-aging. Ever since that launch, we’ve been stashing beer away in oak barrels. A little here, a little there—where time, finances and cooperage would allow for it. After many months of aging, we’d package and sell the beer and then reinvest a little more. Building a barrel program takes time and we’ve always made it a priority. As Almanac grew, so did our barrel collection. We now have over 800 wine and spirits barrels and two 1,000-gallon oak vats called foedres (pronounced “fooders”). The overwhelming response to our early barrel efforts made something clear—our oak-aged beers were the most exciting and in-demand projects coming out of Almanac.
That brings us to today. We want Almanac to be synonymous with seasonal specialty beers that reflect our passions, creative spirits and focus on using local and sustainable agriculture. We have the experience, resources and barrel capacity to focus on the brewing projects that excite us the most.
So, we’re making it official: Oak-aged beer will be the heart of the brewery and sour fruit beers will remain the foundation of this program. We will release a new barrel-aged beer every month in 2014 and beyond.
Every thirty days, give or take, we’ll be releasing a new barrel-aged beer (primarily sour beers) in 375ml bottles and limited draft. We kicked off 2014 with three releases already; Valley of the Heart’s Delight, a 100% foraged fruit sour; Brandy Barrel Peche, a sour blonde aged with peaches in brandy barrels; and Sourdough Wild Ale, a farmhouse ale fermented with brett and sourdough yeasts and dry hopped with Mosaic hops.
In early March we’ll be releasing Batch Two of our Dogpatch Sour, a Flanders Red-style ale aged with Rainier cherries. In April we’ll release Farmer’s Reserve Pluot, which represents an entire summer of stone fruit harvested by the Loewen family of Blossom Bluff Orchards in Reedly, California. Those two beers are just the start of what we’ve been calling, “the summer of sour”, around the brewery. It’s an incredibly exciting time for Almanac and barrel-aged beer enthusiasts.
With our primary focus being oak-aged beers, what can you expect to change? Our Honey Saison, Extra Pale Ale and Biere de Chocolat will be morphing over this coming year into seasonal specialties. Some will also be integrated into exciting barrel-aging projects (looking at you, Biere de Chocolat), and others will be available in new formats and in a more seasonal rotation. We’ll have more news to share regarding these beers later this spring.
This committed focus on barrel-aging will allow Almanac to do what we love most—brewing, aging and sharing seasonal sour and barrel-aged beers with adventurous beer drinkers. We think the effort is worth the end result and we can’t wait to show you what we’ve got coming. Stay tuned and as always, thanks for the love and support.
Jesse & Damian