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Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer

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28B. Mixed-Fermentation Sour Beer

Overall Impression:
A sour and/or funky version of a base style of beer.

Aroma:
Variable by base style. The contribution of non-Saccharomyces microbes should be noticeable to strong, and often contribute a sour and/or funky, wild note. The best examples will display a range of aromatics, rather than a single dominant character. The aroma should be inviting, not harsh or unpleasant.

Appearance:
Variable by base style. Clarity can be variable; some haze is not a fault. Head retention can be poor due to high levels of acid or anti-foam properties of some lactobacillus strains.

Flavor:
Variable by base style. Look for an agreeable balance between the base beer and the fermentation character. A range of results is possible from fairly high acidity/funk to a subtle, pleasant, harmonious beer. The best examples are pleasurable to drink with the esters and phenols complementing the malt and/or hops. The wild character can be prominent, but does not need to be dominating in a style with an otherwise strong malt/hop profile. Acidity should be firm yet enjoyable, but should not be biting or vinegary; prominent or objectionable/offensive acetic acid is a fault. Bitterness tends to be low, especially as sourness increases.

Mouthfeel:
Variable by base style. Generally a light body, almost always lighter than what might be expected from the base style. Generally moderate to high carbonation, although often lower in higher alcohol examples.

Comments:
These beers may be aged in wood, but any wood character should not be a primary or dominant flavor. Sour beers are typically not bitter as these flavors clash. The base beer style becomes less relevant because the various yeast and bacteria tend to dominate the profile. Inappropriate characteristics include diacetyl, solvent, ropy/viscous texture, and heavy oxidation.

History:
Modern American craft beer interpretations of Belgian sour ales, or experimentations inspired by Belgian sour ales.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Virtually any style of beer. Usually fermented by Lactobacillus and/or Pediococcus, often in conjunction with Saccharomyces and/or Brettanomyces. Can also be a blend of styles. Wood or barrel aging is very common, but not required.

Style Comparison:

A sour and/or funky version of a base style.

Vital Statistics:
Variable by style

Commercial Examples:
Boulevard Love Child, Cascade Vlad the Imp Aler, Jester King Le Petit Prince, Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca, Russian River Temptation, The Bruery Rueuze, The Bruery Tart of Darkness

Historical Beer Pre-Prohibition Porter

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27. Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Porter

Overall Impression:
An American adaptation of English Porter using American ingredients, including adjuncts.

Aroma:
Base grainy malt aroma with low levels of dark malt (slight burnt or chocolate notes). Low hop aroma. Low to moderate low levels of DMS acceptable. May show low levels of caramel and biscuit aroma. No to very low esters. Light adjunct (licorice, molasses) aroma acceptable. Diacetyl low to none. Clean lager profile acceptable.

Appearance:
Medium to dark brown, though some examples can be nearly black in color, with ruby or mahogany highlights. Relatively clear. Light to medium tan head which will persist in the glass.

Flavor:
Grainy base malt flavor, with low levels of chocolate or burnt black malt notes, along with low levels of caramel, biscuit, licorice, and toast notes. Corn/DMS flavor acceptable at low to moderate levels. American hop bitterness low to moderate and American hop flavor low to none. Balance is typically even between malt and hops, with a moderate dry finish.

Mouthfeel:
Medium light to medium body, moderate carbonation, low to moderate creaminess. May have a slight astringency from the dark malts.

Comments:
Also sometimes known as Pennsylvania Porter or East Coast Porter.

History:
Commercially brewed in Philadelphia during the revolutionary period, the beer gained wide acceptance in the newly formed mid-Atlantic states, and was endorsed by President George Washington.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Two and six row malt (or a combination of both) are used, along with low percentages of dark malts including black, chocolate, and brown malt (roasted barley is not typically used). Adjuncts are acceptable, including corn, brewers licorice, molasses, and porterine. More historical versions will have up to twenty percent adjuncts. Lager or ale yeast. Emphasis on historical or traditional American bittering hops (Cluster, Willamette, Cascade), though finishing and flavor hops may vary.

Style Comparison:
Smoother and less hoppy-bitter than a (modern) American Porter, less caramelly than an English Porter with more of an adjunct/lager character.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.046 – 1.060
IBUs: 20 – 30
FG: 1.010 – 1.016
SRM: 18 – 30
ABV: 4.5 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples:
Stegmaier Porter, Yuengling Porter

Historical Beer Pre-Prohibition Lager

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27. Historical Beer: Pre-Prohibition Lager

Overall Impression:
A clean, refreshing, but bitter pale lager, often showcasing a grainy-sweet corn flavor. All malt or rice-based versions have a crisper, more neutral character. The higher bitterness level is the largest differentiator between this style and most modern mass-market pale lagers, but the more robust flavor profile also sets it apart.

Aroma:
Low to medium grainy, corn-like or sweet maltiness may be evident (although rice-based beers are more neutral). Medium to moderately high hop aroma, with a range of character from rustic to floral to herbal/spicy; a fruity or citrusy modern hop character is inappropriate. Clean lager character. Low DMS is acceptable. May show some yeast character, as with modern American lagers; allow for a range of subtle supporting yeast notes.

Appearance:
Yellow to deep gold color. Substantial, long lasting white head. Bright clarity.

Flavor:
Medium to medium-high maltiness with a grainy flavor, and optionally a corn-like roundness and impression of sweetness. Substantial hop bitterness stands up to the malt and lingers through the dry finish. All malt and rice-based versions are often crisper, drier, and generally lack corn-like flavors. Medium to high hop flavor, with a rustic, floral, or herbal/spicy character. Medium to high hop bitterness, which should neither be overly coarse nor have a harsh aftertaste. Allow for a range of lager yeast character, as with modern American lagers, but generally fairly neutral.

Mouthfeel:
Medium body with a moderately rich, creamy mouthfeel. Smooth and well-lagered. Medium to high carbonation levels.

Comments:
The classic American Pilsner was brewed both pre-Prohibition and post-Prohibition with some differences. OGs of 1.050-1.060 would have been appropriate for pre-Prohibition beers while gravities dropped to 1.044-1.048 after Prohibition. Corresponding IBUs dropped from a pre-Prohibition level of 30-40 to 25-30 after Prohibition.

History:
A version of Pilsner brewed in the USA by immigrant German brewers who brought the process and yeast with them, but who had to adapt their recipes to work with native hops and malt. This style died out after Prohibition but was resurrected by homebrewers in the 1990s. Few commercial versions are made, so the style still remains mostly a homebrew phenomenon.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Six-row barley with 20% to 30% flaked maize (corn) or rice to dilute the excessive protein levels; modern versions may be all malt. Native American hops such as Clusters, traditional continental hops, or modern noble-type crosses are also appropriate. Modern American hops such as Cascade are inappropriate. Water with a high mineral content can lead to an unpleasant coarseness in flavor and harshness in aftertaste. A wide range of lager yeast character can be exhibited, although modern versions tend to be fairly clean.

Style Comparison:
Similar balance and bitterness as modern Czech Premium Pale Lagers, but exhibiting native American grains and hops from the era before US Prohibition. More robust, bitter, and flavorful than modern American pale lagers, and often with higher alcohol.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.060
IBUs: 25 – 40
FG: 1.010 – 1.015
SRM: 3 – 6
ABV: 4.5 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples:
Anchor California Lager, Coors Batch 19, Little Harpeth Chicken Scratch

Historical Beer Kentucky Common

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27. Historical Beer: Kentucky Common

Overall Impression:
A darker-colored, light-flavored, malt-accented beer with a dry finish and interesting character malt flavors. Refreshing due to its high carbonation and mild flavors, and highly sessionable due to being served very fresh and with restrained alcohol levels.

Aroma:
Low to medium grainy, corn-like or sweet maltiness with a low toast, biscuity-grainy, bready, or caramel malt accent. Medium to moderately-low hop aroma, usually floral or spicy in character. Clean fermentation character, with possible faint berry ester. Low levels of DMS are acceptable. No sourness. Malt-forward in the balance.

Appearance:
Amber-orange to light brown in color. Typically clear, but may have some light haze due to limited conditioning. Foam stand may not be long lasting, and is usually white to beige in color.

Flavor:
Moderate grainy-sweet maltiness with low to medium-low caramel, toffee, bready, and/or biscuity notes. Generally light palate flavors typical of adjunct beers; a low grainy, corn-like sweetness is common. Medium to low floral or spicy hop flavor. Medium to low hop bitterness, which should neither be coarse nor have a harsh aftertaste. May exhibit light fruitiness. Balance in the finish is towards the malt. May have a lightly flinty or minerally-sulfate flavor in the finish. The finish is fairly dry, including the contributions of roasted grains and minerals. No sourness.

Mouthfeel:
Medium to medium-light body with a relatively soft mouthfeel. Highly carbonated. Can have a creamy texture.

Comments:
Modern characterizations of the style often mention a lactic sourness or sour mashing, but extensive brewing records from the larger breweries at the turn of the century have no indication of long acid rests, sour mashing, or extensive conditioning. This is likely a modern homebrewer invention, based on the supposition that since indigenous Bourbon distillers used a sour mash, beer brewers must also have used this process. No contemporaneous records indicate sour mashing or that the beer had a sour profile; rather the opposite, that the beer was brewed as an inexpensive, present-use ale. Enter soured versions in American Wild Ale.

History:
A true American original style, Kentucky Common was almost exclusively produced and sold around the Louisville Kentucky metropolitan area from some time after the Civil War up to Prohibition. Its hallmark was that it was inexpensive and quickly produced, typically 6 to 8 days from mash to delivery. The beer was racked into barrels while actively fermenting (1.020 – 1.022) and tightly bunged to allow carbonation in the saloon cellar. There is some speculation that it was a variant of the lighter common or cream ale produced throughout much of the East prior to the Civil War and that the darker grains were added by the mostly Germanic brewers to help acidify the typical carbonate water of the Louisville area, or that they had a preference for darker colored beers. Up until the late 19th century, Kentucky Common was not brewed in the summer months unless cellars, usually used for malting, were used for fermentation. With the advent of ice machines, the larger breweries were able to brew year round. In the period from 1900 to prohibition, about 75% of the beer sold in the Louisville area was Kentucky Common. With prohibition, the style died completely as the few larger breweries that survived were almost exclusively lager producers.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Six-row barley malt was used with 35% corn grits to dilute the excessive protein levels along with 1 to 2% each caramel and black malt. Native American hops, usually about .2 pounds per barrel of Western hops for bittering and a similar amount of New York hops (such as Clusters) for flavor (15 minutes prior to knock out). Imported continental Saazer-type hops (.1 pounds per barrel) were added at knock out for aroma. Water in the Louisville area was typically moderate to high in carbonates. Mash water was often pre-boiled to precipitate the carbonate and Gypsum was commonly added. Considering the time from mash in to kegging for delivery was typically 6 to 8 days, clearly aggressive top-fermenting yeasts was used.

Style Comparison:
Like a darker-colored cream ale emphasizing corn, but with some light character malt flavor. Malt flavors and balance are probably closest to modern adjunct-driven international amber or dark lagers, Irish red ales, or Belgian pale ales.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.055
IBUs: 15 – 30
FG: 1.010 – 1.018
SRM: 11 – 20
ABV: 4.0 – 5.5%

Commercial Examples:
Apocalypse Brew Works Ortel’s 1912

Wheatwine

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22D. Wheatwine

Overall Impression:
A richly textured, high alcohol sipping beer with a significant grainy, bready flavor and sleek body. The emphasis is first on the bready, wheaty flavors with interesting complexity from malt, hops, fruity yeast character and alcohol complexity.

Aroma:
Hop aroma is mild and can represent just about any late hop aromatic. Moderate to moderately-strong bready, wheaty malt character, often with additional malt complexity such as honey and caramel. A light, clean, alcohol aroma may noted. Low to medium fruity notes may be apparent. Very low levels of diacetyl are acceptable but not required. Weizen yeast character (banana/clove) is inappropriate.

Appearance:
Color ranges from gold to deep amber, often with garnet or ruby highlights. Low to medium off-white head. The head may have creamy texture, and good retention. Chill haze is allowable, but usually clears up as the beer gets warmer. High alcohol and viscosity may be visible in “legs” when beer is swirled in a glass.

Flavor:
Moderate to moderately-high wheaty malt flavor, dominant in the flavor balance over any hop character. Low to moderate bready, toasty, caramel, or honey malt notes are a welcome complexity note, although not required. Hop flavor is low to medium, and can reflect any variety. Moderate to moderately-high fruitiness, often with a dried-fruit character. Hop bitterness may range from low to moderate; balance therefore ranges from malty to evenly balanced. Should not be syrupy and under-attenuated. Some oxidative or vinous flavors may be present, as are light alcohol notes that are clean and smooth but complex. A complementary, supportive oak character is welcome, but not required.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-full to full bodied and chewy, often with a luscious, velvety texture. Low to moderate carbonation. Light to moderate smooth alcohol warming may also be present.

Comments:
Dark malts should be used with restraint. Much of the color arises from a lengthy boil. Some commercial examples may be larger than the Vital Statistics, and some may not be brewed every year.

History:
A relatively recent American craft beer style that was first brewed at the Rubicon Brewing Company in 1988. Often a winter seasonal, vintage, or one-off release. Breweries frequently experiment with this style, leading to a range of interpretations.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Typically brewed with a combination of American two-row and American wheat. Style commonly uses 50% or more wheat malt. Any variety of hops may be used. May be oak-aged.

Style Comparison:
More than simply a wheat-based barleywine, many versions have very expressive fruity and hoppy notes, while others develop complexity through oak aging. Less emphasis on the hops than American Barleywine. Has roots in American Wheat Beer rather than any German wheat styles, so should not have any German weizen yeast character.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 30 – 60 FG: 1.016 – 1.030
SRM: 8 – 15 ABV: 8.0 – 12.0%

Commercial Examples:
Rubicon Winter Wheat Wine, Two Brothers Bare Trees Weiss Wine, Smuttynose Wheat Wine, Portsmouth Wheat Wine