​Brew Review: Classic Styles a Good Challenge for Anderson Valley Brew Team

No, it’s not easy to create a great New England IPA, a well-balanced Pastry Stout, or a consumer-clamoring Sour, but Fal Allen wanted to further challenge his brew team at Anderson Valley for the coming year.

“All these beers are harder to make than ‘regular’ craft beers,” Allen said, the brewery’s veteran Master Brewer told Brewer. “They require more thought, work, and sometimes special skills.

“We brewers are all brewers by choice, not by default, and being so we are all students of the art/science of beer.”

At the brewery’s Boonville facility, AVBC has announced a “Historic Beer” lineup for 2022 and includes Dutch-style Kuyt Beer, Berliner-Style Weisse, German “Stein Bier”, Grodziskie, Finnish-style Sahti, and Bamberg-Style Rauchbier.

“These beers are an exploration into how we got to where we are today,” Allen said. “They are part of the continuum, the dead ends (of a sort) in the beer family tree. We are all excited to recreate them and then taste these beers.”

READ MORE: Turn Around: Fal Allen’s Innovations That Changed Anderson Valley

Alle​n said the beers will be as authentic ​made ​as reasonably possible.

​”​It is important to keep in mind our limitations when recreating these beers​,” he said. ​Three hundred-plus years ago these beers were being brewed with malt that was made in a different way than malt is produced today —​ ​similar but often with several significant differences. Hops back then were often old and/or oxidized. They were never palletized fresh, then kept in a vacuum-sealed in a mylar bag held at zero degrees in a refrigerator.

​”​Yeast technology was very different back then (the microorganism yeast was unknown even to brewers). They certainly were not using a cultured single strain and what they were using probably had some bacteria mixed in with it.​”

The equipment would have been very different too​, with​ no stainless steel, but there would have been lots of wood​, he added​.

​”​Wood that had its own microflora. For example, instead of stainless lauter plates​,​ 300 years ago they used branches and straw to lauter the wort​,” Allen said. ​”​These branches and straw would not only have produced a very different wort quality than our modern brewing systems but those branches and straw would have had their own minor flavor contributions.

​”​So we are using modern ingredients, and modern equipment, with historic recipes and historic processes.​”

READ MORE: Brew Review: Old World Styles Still Work — Seedstock Brewery

Where ​Anderson Valley has been able to, ​Allen said they have brought in these unusual aspects of the beers​. For example, with ​the Berliner Weiss​-​style beer ​Allen said they are using a multi-culture of saccharomyces, Brettanomyces, and lactobacillus to co-ferment the beer in wooden barrels.

​”​We are working to be as authentic as is reasonably possible for beers that are going to be sold and possibly brewed again​,” he said.​

Some of ​the beers ​Allen said he has brewed before, while others are so rare and complicated to make that ​he never ​has even ​tasted one​. He said he found some of these styles in reading and some during the 2021 GABF judging.

​”I don’t know of many breweries that are regularly brewing any of these styles​, ​with the exception of Schneeeule brewery in Berlin who makes historic Berliner ​Weisse full time​,” Allen explained. ​”​I do know a few breweries that have made some of these beer styles in the past​ ​and with 8,000 breweries in America today​,​ I am sure we are not the only ones making some of these beer styles but they are rare.

​”​Sometimes these brewers are making them in the manner we will be making them, sometimes some of them are making them in different ways.”

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