Rethinking hoppy beers: Citra Sour

CitraSour“Hoppy” and “sour” might sound like two flavors that wouldn’t play nice together, but there’s much more to hops than palate-punching bitterness. If you look beyond the IBUs, hops lend a wide range of more subtle flavors and aromas, from fruity grapefruit and papaya notes to delicate florals and hints of good ‘ole American pine. These characteristics are coaxed out by dry-hopping, when hops are added just before the beer is packaged to lend the freshest possible aromas and flavors.

In Citra Sour, you can expect a very tropical, refreshing sour beer that defies expectations of what a “hoppy” beer can be.

We’ve brewed hoppy sours before but this time we wanted to highlight the characteristics of a single hop varietal: Citra. We began the process with our traditional sour blonde ale, fermented with our house sour culture and aged in barrels for about six months, and blended in a younger, 100% brettanomyces-fermented beer. This blend combines the oaky, vanilla character that barrels impart with the tropical fruit esters created by brett. As our Oak Program Manager, Phil Emerson, explains, this combination created the perfect backdrop for the flavors and aromas Citra is best known for.

“We were striving for pineapple and guava from the brett. The Citra hops gives the stone fruit, apricot, and grapefruit character. Those combine and it’s hard to tell what’s from the hops and what’s from the brett,” Phil says.

The addition of brettanomyces to the mix has the added bonus of helping preserve the hop characteristics that we’re aiming to spotlight. While hop bomb IPAs start losing their punch after only a couple months, the brett and sour culture will preserve the delicate compounds responsible for prized hop aromas and create some subtle new flavors in the process. Translation: this beer is totally age-able, and should become more interesting with time, not more muted.

Phil adds, “We think it’s great now. It might be even better in six months.”


Almanac is coming to Chicago!


Almanac Beer Co. partners with Wirtz Beverage for Illinois distribution

Almanac Beer Co. is proud to announce distribution in Chicago beginning August 2015. Almanac’s founders hail from the Midwest and have always loved the Windy City, and are excited to see their beers reach Chicago’s diverse craft market.

Wirtz Beverage will carry Almanac’s full current portfolio, including the Fresh Beer and Fresh Beer Limited Series, as well as Almanac’s Farm to Barrel oak-aged beers, beginning with Dogpatch Sour Flander’s-style Red Ale and Farmer’s Reserve Citrus, a sour blonde aged with Buddha’s Hand Citron, Yuzu, and Blood Oranges. Further seasonal and special releases will follow throughout the year.

Almanac will be partnering with various Chicago locations to host a variety of events to celebrate the launch:

August 17th | Beer Dinner at The Kitchen
August 18th | Meet the Brewers at Hopleaf
August 19th | Almanac + Moody Tongue Pairing & Flight Night at Dusek’s
August 20th | Meet the Brewers at Bangers & Lace
August 22nd | Beer Brunch at Longman & Eagle


Almanac is coming to NYC


Almanac Beer Co. is proud to announce it is launching distribution in New York City! Almanac will be partnering with S.K.I. Beers to bring its full portfolio of seasonal, barrel-aged sours and year-round fresh beers to Gotham.

New York City’s beer lovers can expect an epic list of beer upon launch, including some special releases of vintage Almanac Barrel Aged Sours. Our beer will be arriving just in time for the fall harvest, which means Almanac’s special take on Pumpkin beers will be on full display! Look for bottles of Heirloom Pumpkin; a Rye and Brandy Barrel Aged Barleywine brewed with real pumpkins from Bodega Bay; and our Dark Pumpkin Sour–a tart, wine barrel-aged sour brewed with roasted pumpkins and a touch of spice.

Almanac is also thrilled to share its fresh beers on draft and in bottles all year round. Look for Almanac IPA, a west coast hop bomb with aromas of mango and passionfruit; Saison Dolores, a dry-hopped farmhouse saison; and Golden Gate Gose, a tart wheat beer brewed with coriander, lemon verbena and San Francisco Bay sea salt.

Find Almanac’s NYC launch events listed on our Events Page.




Almanac is coming to Colorado

Almanac in CO

Almanac Beer Company is thrilled to announce it is beginning distribution as of mid-June to the great beer state of Colorado, starting with the Colorado Front Range! We will be partnering with the distribution arm of Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project to bring Almanac’s barrel-aged and fresh beers to the craft beer loving folks of Colorado.

Over the last year at SF Beer Week and GABF, our mutual love and respect for wild yeasts and funk brought us together and made us fast friends. We knew Crooked Stave would be the perfect distribution partner for bringing Almanac to the Mile High City, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and everything in between!

The first limited shipments will be hitting bottle shops, bars and restaurants mid-June in the Colorado Front Range. Almanac will be sending the latest releases from our barrel-aging program, including Farmer’s Reserve Blackberry—a sour blond ale aged in wine barrels with Swanton Berry Farm Blackberries, and Dogpatch Strawberry—a Flanders Red-inspired sour ale aged in wine barrels with coastal Santa Cruz strawberries. In addition, our latest fresh beers will be making the trip too, with kegs of Almanac IPA, Golden Gate Gose and Ichibier all headed east.  We’ll then continue regular shipments of Almanac beer as new barrel-aged projects are released and ready to share.

Colorado has an amazing craft beer culture and brewing community, and we can’t wait to be a part of it.

– Damian & Jesse

What’s next for Almanac

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.

Yep, really.

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