If you’ve been looking for a good excuse to visit the recently expanded and re-opened City Beer store, your search is over. Next Friday, November 18 at 6 p.m., Almanac Beer Company is holding the bottle release event for their second and latest seasonal ale.
Almanac’s co-founders, Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan, settled on a Belgian Farmhouse style ale to create this limited release brew: Almanac Autumn 2011 Farmhouse Pale with Organic Plums.
The Belgian farmhouse is a popular style because it gives brewers the freedom to expand beyond traditional beer ingredients while maintaining enough structure to give drinkers a fair idea of what to expect. The challenge of this style is to add complementary ingredients in the right amounts so that the ale remains balanced. Fruit can be especially tricky to include; you need to use enough to add flavor, but not so much as to turn the result into a cidery fruit pop.
Friedman and Fagan used organic wheat from Massa Organics in Glenn County, California when brewing the ale, and blended both piloncillo, an unrefined whole cane sugar from Latin America, and late harvest organic plums from Twin Girls Farm in the San Joaquin Valley. Then, they added a combination of Cascade and Amarillo hops at the end of the brewing process and then again after fermentation (dry-hopping) to burnish the ale with a bright tangerine and grapefruit flavor and aroma.
The result is a crisp and refreshing, yet rich and complex ale. The subdued flavor of the plums complements the natural fruit esters from the wheat so well that I couldn’t tell where one left off and the other began. It's a delicious liquid puzzle.
Friedman and Fagan will be at Friday’s event to talk about their Almanac Farmhouse Pale with Plums and they’ll bring along a special sour version of their first seasonal and now sold out Summer 2010 Blackberry Vintage Ale. There will also be Almanac-inspired chocolates by Nosh This and a free, numbered limited edition, "Beer is Agriculture" poster (17" x 22") to the first 50 attendees who ask for one.
If you can’t make it to City Beer on Friday, check out the Buy Local page of their website for a listing of retailers, restaurants and bars that will stock their beer. Their autumn seasonal is already on tap at Flour + Water and Frances.