In early 2013, I brewed my first professional batch of spontaneously-fermented beer that was inoculated via an overnight cooling in our coolship. This blond beer was fermented in and aged in French Oak Chardonnay barrels with the intention of it becoming the start of my interpretation of "Lambic" or "Gueuze."
In 2014, one of the barrels that was mature conveyed so many beautiful, concise and nuanced notes that it showed no need for further aging and was selected to be our first "Unblended" release. It became known as Unblended #40 - the number that barrel was assigned at filling. With this barrel now empty, but full of this unique microflora population, I started a new project. This project used this population/barrel to inoculate and entirely ferment a new batch of blond beer every year, with the plan of creating a 3-year blend one day.
That day came early this year.
Over the past 3 years, I have been brewing blond-base beers with subtle changes every year, to harness what this Missouri based microflora can do and to showcase and develop a whole new plethora of flavors and experiences. The yearly brews were:
2014 - A mash bill of 65% Pilsner and 35% Unmalted Wheat that was turbid-mashed and boiled for three hours with hop pellets. Inoculated with Barrel #40 and fermented in and aged in two neutral Hungarian Oak 500L Puncheons.
2015 - A mash bill of 65% Pilsner and 35% Unmalted Wheat that was step-mashed and boiled for two hours with aged, whole-leaf hops. Inoculated with cultures from the 2014 brew and fermented in and aged in two French Oak 500L Puncheons.
2016 - A mash bill of 70% Pilsner, 20% Unmalted Wheat and 10% Malted Wheat was single-infusion mashed and boiled for two hours with hop pellets. Inoculated with cultures from the 2015 brew and fermented in and aged in two French Oak Pinot Noir 500L Puncheons.
Blended 2017 is a beer we hope to release every three years. Brewing for the 2020 release has already started as we have refilled these barrels to keep these beautiful cultures happy and thriving.
Some may ask if this is Méthode Gueuze, but as you can see, this blend consists of threads that were inspired by the traditional techniques and processes, however none follow the strict regimen needed to earn that mark. We do have brews and barrels currently aging that do follow that regimen, and one day, we hope to release a Méthode Gueuze beer, this is just not that...
This is our take and expression, driven by our love of blending beers and our understanding of the tradition of the spontaneous beers of Belgium, of what Missouri terroir can offer with time, patience and finesse.
On Sunday, April 23rd, at 12pm, we release Blended 2017 to go. The release will be held at our brewery at 7458 Manchester Road in Maplewood. We will start on-site enjoyment of Blended 2017 at both The Brewery and The Side Project Cellar on Saturday, April 22nd.
$20 per 375ml bottle. Allocations based on turnout.
Cory and Karen King