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24th Anniversary Flanders-style Sour Red Ale

When I began my career in the craft beer industry, Karl Strauss Brewing Company had just celebrated 18 years of brewing in San Diego. It was 2007; San Diego was home to a close-knit band of breweries, and you could count the number of craft-savvy beer bars on one hand. San Diego’s beer scene was plenty mature at the time, but the cult-like demand for San Diego beers was still a few years away. And while high-octane hoppy beers were putting SD on the international map, a more experimental and lesser-known brewing practice was developing behind closed brewery doors.Sour Beers

Experimenting with different ingredients and techniques is one of the most exciting parts of brewing, especially when a little spontaneity or a happy accident leads to new discoveries and complex flavors.  The most exciting discovery of my first year with KARL was sour beers. In my life before beer, I knew nothing about spontaneous fermentation or wild ales; my only real experience was pouring a Duchesse de Bourgogne down the drain because it tasted like balsamic vinegar. That being said, my education began when I discovered a cache of dusty, cobweb-covered oak barrels in a dark recessed corner of the brewery. Curious,  I asked around and learned that these barrels contained sour and spontaneously fermented ales inoculated with lactic acid-producing bacteria and wild yeast. At first, I didn’t know what to make of folks using bacteria and wild organisms to make beer, but after reading up on the styles and doing a little bar stool research, I was hooked.

The evolution of our sour beer program has been a wildly fascinating process, yielding both complex beers and complex lessons.  We’ve learned a lot over the past six years, with small batch releases like Brett Farbe, Sour Cassis, Queen of Tarts, and Flan-diddly-anders. So, to celebrate our 24th year in beer we decided to take all we’ve learned and apply it to brewing and bottling a barrel-aged Flanders-style Red Ale.

Our 24th Anniversary Flanders-style Ale goes on tap in our Brewery Restaurants on February 1st, 2013 and will be available until our limited supply runs out.  We packaged just over 8,000 22 oz bottles that will be distributed across California, so keep your eyes peeled and grab a couple while you can.

Karl Strauss 24th Anniversary Flanders-style Sour Red Ale

From the label: When we cut our teeth in the beer biz back in ’89, the thought of wild or spontaneously fermented ales left more than a sour taste in people’s mouths. Twenty-four years later, the mouth-puckering tartness of sour ales is craft beer’s newest obsession – an obsession we’ve been perfecting over the past few years. So, as a tribute to the times, we’ve brewed a Flanders-style Sour Red Ale to commemorate our 24th Anniversary. Keeping with Flemish tradition, our 24th Anniversary Ale is an expertly blended combination of oak barrel-aged and freshly fermented sour red ales. The resulting brew is both tart and complex, boasting layers of cherries, pomegranate, currants and toasted oak. Now show us your sour face! @Karl_Strauss #sourface
Specs: 7.5% ABV – 25 SRM – 15IBU 

24th Anniversary Flanders-style Red Ale

24th Anniversary Flanders-style Red Ale

BW Barrels

Barrel-aging Flanders Red Ale