Blending beers combines different batches of sour beers to create not only interesting and nuanced flavors, but to ensure that the sourness of each beer is on point. The beers typically rest in oak barrels held in brewers’ cellars for months—or even year—before they’re brought out for the public’s consumption. Each batch can undergo multiple tastings and tweaks before it’s ready. Not every brewery has the time or resources to go through this type of process, which is why these programs are so rare and the bottles so coveted. Here, we’ve highlighted ten brewers who blend.
Casey Brewing & Blending
Glenwood Springs, Colorado
Earlier this year Serious Eats posted an article about Casey Brewing & Blending with the headline “The Hottest Brewer in America Doesn’t Even Brew.” It’s true—owner Troy Casey purchases wort from other craft breweries, and then ferments and ages it in oak barrels. He then blends those barrels together to create well-rounded, nuanced sours that his cult-like following can’t seem to get enough of. Connoisseurs can expect to wait in long lines at the Glenwood Springs brewery on release days.
The robust barrel program at The Bruery only continues to grow, and they’re coming out with oak-aged, wild yeast and bacteria-fermented, tart and funky beers under the Bruery Terreux brand. Included in this series are Gypsy Tart, a Flanders-style brown ale, and The Flanders Giant, a whiskey barrel-aged Flanders red ale.
New Belgium Brewing
Fort Collins, Colorado
New Belgium Brewing sports a massive foeder cellar known fondly as the Foeder Forest where Lauren Salazar, one of the first professional beer blenders in the country, blends her masterpieces that often end up in the Lips of Faith Series.
Allagash Brewing Co.
Beers that employ mixed-microbe fermentations are unpredictable to say the least, especially if those microbes are airborne via spontaneous fermentation. Allagash Brewing Co. is one of the first and only breweries in the country to install a coolship to facilitate spontaneous fermentation. These beers are then wood-aged and blended to round out the huge variety of flavors and aromas that are produced in each individual barrel.
Alesong Brewing & Blending
This new brewery is paying homage to old-world lambic beer brewers with its blending program. These farmhouse-style ales age in retired wine barrels, with mixed cultures of Saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, and lactic acid bacteria, and sometimes fresh fruits and herbs to add further depth.
Wicked Weed Brewing Co.
Asheville, North Carolina
At Wicked Weed, blending is a critical part of the sour beer process. “Black Angel—a black sour aged in bourbon-barrels with tart cherries—might come out one time with really heavy cherry esters, the next might have more barnyard funk,” says Walt Dickinson of Wicked Weed. “You’re trying to make beer as consistent as possible—that’s where blending comes in.”
Hill Farmstead Brewery
The many batches of Hill Farmstead’s Civil Disobedience series all represent unexpected blends of the brewery’s beers—some are barrel-aged, some are not. Civil Disobedience #3 is a blend of two of Hill Farmstead’s beers, Arthur and Vera Mae, which were barrel-aged. Civil Disobedience #15 is a blend of many barrels ranging from sixteen to thirty months, then aged further on mangos.
Beachwood BBQ Blendery
*Long Beach, California *
In 2015, the award winning Beachwood BBQ opened the Beachwood Blendery, dedicated to what they call American-style lambics—both fruited and unfruited sour beers created with mixed fermentations in steel and oak barrels. These beers age anywhere from nine months to three years before they are blended. In its first year, the blendery crafted the “Propagation Series,” which includes a foeder-aged Brown Ale, a Berliner Weisse, and a Saison, to experiment with different yeasts and bacteria in an effort to compile its signature lambics.
The Rare Barrel
All of The Rare Barrel’s beers are blended, whether barrels within the same batch or barrels from many different batches, which allows them to dial in variables such as acidity and balance to produce beer that they love. The Rare Barrel is a dedicated sour beer brewery focused on wood-aged, mixed fermentations.
Avery Brewing Co.
Andy Parker, who runs one of the country’s most complex and developed barrel-aging programs at Avery, says that the result of blending is a beer greater than the sum of its parts. Anything goes when it comes to Avery’s Barrel-Aged Series, which includes beers such as Opuntia, a sour ale with a dose of prickly pears that matured in tequila barrels.