“Yes, we know it’s sour!”
This phrase marks the bottles from San Luis Obispo’s Libertine Brewing. The brewery was founded in 2012 and started seeing distribution from Shelton Brothers to the Kansas City market in the past year. Founder Tyler Clark comes at his wild/sour beers from a winemaker’s perspective. This isn’t surprising as most of his beverage producing colleagues in the Central Coast region of California produce wine, and much of the tradition of sour beer mirrors that of wine production. But in a world where sour beer is only just now starting to see wider appeal, this catchphrase is humorously appropriate as the masses catch up to all the wild and crazy turns craft beer has taken.
Libertine’s brews are all barrel aged, and coolship inoculated for true terroir. Open fermentation is a method as old as beer itself, and in the world of sours – was once thought to be something exclusive to Belgium’s Zenne Valley. Over the past 5 or 6 years, a large amount of American brewers are proving just the opposite – great spontaneously fermented beers are possible just about everywhere. From the De Garde coolship in Oregon, to Allagash in Maine, we’re in a veritable sour renaissance. (Just don’t call it Lambic…)
Here at Mike’s, we carry a small but tasty selection of Libertine beers. Wild takes on the IPA, Saison, Rye Saison, Table Beer, Biere de Garde, Gose… we’ve got an assortment of flavors. And for the wine fan, you don’t have to just look for parallels in the brews to the vino, we’ve also got actual wine fermented with Libertine farmhouse strains!
From our friends at distributor Lile Wines, we stock the Field Recordings catalog. These are selections of single vineyard wines that curator Andrew Jones hand picks as the overlooked “diamonds in the rough,” (a philosophy certainly mirrored by Shelton Brother’s portfolio.) One of these producers, Alloy Wine Works, produces a sparkling chardonnay (in cans!) that is fermented with Libertine yeast. You can find cans of Weissland at all 3 Mike’s.
Sparkling Chardonnay from Edna Valley pitched with farmhouse ale from Libertine Brewing Co and dry hopped with Amarillo – 11.5% alc and extremely crushable. The wild yeast creates a unique flavor profile of fresh tangerine, sea salt carmel and New York cheesecake.
Back to the beer though! In keeping with their spontaneous takes on many old world styles, Jove is a spontaneous gose brewed with copious amounts of blackberries. One of the first Libertine beers that I tried, I had to revisit this tasty treat for this write up. I just can’t pass up a good blackberry brew…
Gose/Wild Ale w/ Aged in Oak with Blackberries | 6% ABV | 750ml Bottle w/ Cork & Cap
From the brewer:
“We took our Gose and aged it in oak barrels along with a ridiculous amount of blackberries. Extremely fruit forward while still being very dry with a good amount of acidity. Originally made for one of our favorite beer bars, Jupiter, in Berkeley and named after the latin translation of Jupiter, it turned out so amazing we couldn’t not make more.”
Jove pours a cloudy mix of light orange and rusty red. A thin off-white and slightly pink head forms with good retention. After the head recedes, a slightly pinkish white cap remains, with soapy lacing that quickly reduces to a small ring around the edge of the beer. Aromas of tart blackberries, raspberries, grapes, and light citrus meets dry earthy funk, strong minerality and mild vineous undertones.
The first sip is met with prickly active carbonation. Tart blackberries (hell, all sorts of berries…) and strong sourness hit first. Overripe fruit, grape skins and melon rind float underneath. A decent amount of funk is present. Being a wild ale take on the gose-style, moderate salty mineral notes are also to be found. The beer comes in at 6% ABV, on the slightly higher end for goses. The finish lingers with dry funk and notes of oak/wine barrels.
This was immediately one of my favorite Libertine offerings the first time I had it. After revisiting it for this post, I still dig it! The bracing lactic sourness of some contemporary gose-style releases is tamed by the strong funk and barrel flavor. The blackberries add great flavor and color, and elevate what was probably an already tasty base beer to an even better level. I would recommend this, as well as any of their other offerings. Limited quantities of several Libertine beers (including Jove) are available at all 3 Mike’s locations. Prices range from about $14 to $19 depending on the beer, and all come in 750ml bottle format with cork & cap.
Grab a bottle soon, and thanks for checking out the blog!
Jeremy Morton | Mike’s Wine & Spirit Beer Manager