What are you doing this weekend? Drop everything and go to Corvallis. I mean, finish reading this, then go. Or like finish reading this, get a good night's sleep, then go.
Block 15, Corvallis craft beer OGs and purveyors of spot-on offerings in every style of beer imaginable, are debuting the first bottles from their Turbulent Consequence line tomorrow, Saturday the 3rd, at 10:30am at the brewery pub. The Turbulent Consequence beers are from Block 15's new coolship, a large, open-air fermentation vessel used to invite wild yeast (including brettanomyces, a yeast that often results in tart, sometimes fruity aromas and flavors) and funky bacteria into the beer.
A coolship is a notoriously finicky thing—one is, after all, relying on unpredictable, hyperlocal, extremely productive microflora. Luckily, for Nick Arzner, founder and brewer at Block 15, the process of installing and brewing with the coolship has gone smoothly. He had a coolship built extra deep (to accommodate double batches) and scaled to fit in their wild cellar, where many of their 160 barrels (and their resident bacteria and brettanomyces) already lived:
We built up the flora in the room for over a year before beginning our spontaneous fermentation program. I figured the first couple go-arounds would end up as blend beers or go down the drain. However, most of the barrels have thus far turned out real nice. We have a pretty solid acid-producing bacteria floating around that gently sours the beer quickly. The brett seems to be of medium intensity, increasing with age. I would describe it as a very rounded brett, some nice stone fruits, hay, and dairy type barnyard.
The result, thus far, will be two beers: Première Année, a blend of relatively young one-year-old lambics, feral toddlers just out of the woods (that's a pun) and a Pêche, which was aged for six months with fresh white peaches and sounds DELICIOUS. Make room on your table or in your cellar for these two, which will definitely be worth the drive.
Also releasing tomorrow is the excellent tart farmhouse beer Ferme de la Ville Provisions, though that should make it to Portland in the near future. Provisions, one of the standouts from last year's Oregon bretty farmhouse crop, is a blend of one- and two-year-old beer. Arzner says “we refill the barrels without rinsing if we like the character. This has helped build some brettanomyces notes we really like.” Hey, I like them too!
This is beer worth geeking out over, brewed by another of the great Oregon breweries in The Wave Of The Brewers. (Northwest Brew Wave? Brewvelle Vague?) Arzner beautifully describes the attention required to make these specials beers:
What I love about these beers is that they complete a circle of brewing: from rustic times with raw grains, wild yeast, and wood maturation; moving through to modern brewing with malted grains, cultured yeast, and temperature controlled stainless steel where brewers have solid control. Now, we're bringing back the tradition of inviting your brewery's surroundings, wood, and wild yeast and bacteria to take part in the beer—and releasing our own control. Though simple, these are some of the most challenging beers to produce and blend in our brewery.
I love that idea of the circle of brewing. We're definitely seeing that in Oregon right now, and if it means more brewers start brewing and blending lambics and wild ales, then I love that, too. So throw caution to the wind and throw back a couple pints at Block 15. These guys are doing it right, every time.