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Four Brewers: Craft Beer and Homebrew

Nov 23, 2015

Season 2, Episode 47 – This week we’re hanging out with Jesse Friedman, co-owner and brewer at San Francisco’s Almanac Beer Co., and we’re drinking some really special stuff.

This week we are joined once again by our good friend Jesse Friedman, co-owner and brewer at Almanac Beer Co. in San Fransisco, California, and we’re drinking some really interesting stuff that encompasses the worlds of beer, wine, and spirits.

Almanac Beer Co. Beers with Seven Stills Dogpatch Whiskey
Almanac Beer Co. Beers with Seven Stills Dogpatch Whiskey

First up is the Almanac Dogpatch Sour. This beer is made with dried Rainier cherries and aged in red wine barrels for a number of months. The beer has a nice lactic tartness to it with the cherries giving it an extra fruity kick. Here’s something interesting. There is an undetectable amount of acetic acid in the beer, which we learned from Jesse is a good thing. Having a beer that is entirely lactic makes for a somewhat boring and overwhelmingly tart and thin beer. Almanac is by no means in the business of making vinegar bombs, but they’ve learned from others in the industry that acetic acid can also be your friend when it comes to making delicious sours.

Almanac Beer Co. Dogpatch and Farmer's Reserve Grand Cru
Almanac Beer Co. Dogpatch and Farmer’s Reserve Grand Cru

The next couple of beers are really interesting. The Dogpatch Grand Cru is essentially a beefed up version the Dogpatch Sour, but with a couple of twists. Jesse walks us through exactly what goes into making this beer on the show, but we’ll try to sum it up here. It’s basically comprised of 30% red wine grapes, consisting of Zinfandel, Syrah, Tannat, Petite Syrah, and Tempranillo grapes. Two versions of the beer are aged in new French oak barrels and then blended back together to make the final product. This is not your typical sour ale. The red wine presence is quite big, making for a complex and satisfying experience. It’s pretty damn good.

The Farmer’s Reserve Grand Cru goes through a similar production process, but instead of using a variety of red wine grapes, this beer uses Muscat grapes. This beer got a lot of different reactions from the room. In summary, it’s loaded with aromas of pineapple, lychee, mango, and even a hint of Nelson hops, even though Nelson wasn’t used to make this beer. The wine presence comes through really nice on the palate, just like the Dogpatch Grand Cru. Think of these beers as beer and wine hybrids. Almanac wasn’t subtle about it either. Jesse thinks the best thing about both of these beers is how they can divide a room and really get people talking about what they’re experiencing while drinking the beer. Mission accomplished. 

Seven Stills Dogpatch Whiskey
Seven Stills Dogpatch Whiskey

We wrap up the show with a first for Four Brewers. We’re drinking some Dogpatch Whiskeyfrom Seven Stills, made in collaboration with Almanac. Seven Stills is known for making whiskey that is influenced by beer. Seven Stills is from the same neighborhood in San Fransisco as Almanac called “Dogpatch”, so this collaboration seemed natural. In order to make for a proper wash for distilling, Almanac brewed a version of Dogpatch Sour with wheat added to the grain bill and higher starting gravity that made for a higher post-fermentation alcohol level. After distillation, the whiskey was aged in used Dogpatch Sour barrels and then aged again in Dogpatch Sour Grand Cru barrels. This whiskey is cask strength, so you may want to add some water to cut down those fusel notes.

Wood, cinnamon, vanilla, cotton candy, taffy, black pepper, caramel, and honey characteristics all come through on the aroma and palate. At $45-$50, this isn’t a cheap whiskey, but it’s unique and delicious. Seven Stills is on to something, here…

So, thanks once again to Jesse for hanging out with us.


Beers (and whiskey) from this week’s episode:
Almanac Beer Co. – Dogpatch Sour
Almanac Beer Co. – Dogpatch Grand Cru
Almanac Beer Co. – Farmer’s Reserve Grand Cru
Seven Stills Dogpatch Whiskey

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