That Girl is Boysen- My Two Year Anniversary Beer
Two years ago when I took over brewing production from the previous head brewer, we spent very little time getting acquainted with the world I was about to enter. The Libertine had a brief, but daunting, legacy at that point in time, of which I was anxious not to mess up. I asked him about previous blends and how they were produced, so that when it came up I knew what was going on. Soccer Mom, Heard it Through the Grapevine, Framboise, Summer Breeze, Good Vibrations. These guys are classics (to me at the least) in the wild and sour beer world, they have that house flavor and that Central Coast uniqueness that people want in our beers, what I was trying to live up to.
I walked around the rickhouse, and checked out some of barrels with which we had to work. Berliner. Gose. Rye. Aubree. Saison. Table. Not so Table. Others were labeled as the brews I mentioned before. Soccer Mom. Framboise. Good Vibrations. Was my work already cut out for me? I didn’t ask because I wasn’t really getting answers, and my social anxiety told me to just figure it out on my own. There were a few barrels I couldn’t help but be curious about, and they were simply labeled ‘Spon’. Even curiouser though, those brews were barreled down on my birthdate. 12 full wine barrels from 2016, all labeled ‘Spon’. I didn’t get any of the answers I was looking for at the time and I had a bigger task in front of me, so I decided it was future me’s problem.
Fast forward a few months, the restaurant in SLO is built, and we’re pumping out delicious brews and blends. Making some crazy pub concoctions, some weird experimental bottle releases, and of course, the classics. Sometime in late April of 2017 while wandering around I saw those barrels again, I called upon the former head brewer and asked him how those were different from the way our beer is currently made. He told me those went directly into Puncheons for primary, then into barrels for conditioning. Since I had taken over, we’ve moved towards a more traditional “farmhouse” method, employing open fermentation on every beer until high krausen, and then moving them into barrels. I decided to try this spontaneous fermentation technique, but with my own spin on it.
That year on May 23/24 we did a single day coolship rest, knocking out at around 100 degrees and just let whatever happens happen. The next morning we pulled the wort and transferred into wine barrels and allowed primary fermentation to take place. It isn’t dissimilar to how we do the majority of our beers to be honest, but having it be as true to the spirit of Belgian Techniques and lambic recipes as we can made it that much more fun. It didn’t hurt that it was a secret birthday present for myself.
One year later, we decided to up our game and attempt a modified turbid mash, just to raise the bar one more level. Why bother with this stuff if you can’t challenge yourself? Even better, we decided to blend the previous years, just a few barrels of each, to see how it went. Cellarman Kyle and I went through and found the funkiest stuff we could (barnyard and fruity Brett, wild yeast, minerality, cheesy hops, coconut and vanilla oak, acid), set those barrels aside for a few days while we blended a few other priorities. As we were talking about how excited we were for this blend we realized one of our least favorite things about this industry is how little people care for unflavored golden wild beer. I mean that as a mass rule, there is an audience for it. I know, I am that audience. I still maintain Brett Sounds and ASLO blends are some of our very best beers. Here we are though, and if you can make a good thing great then go for it.
What was once going to be known as “The Spawn of St. Nikolas” for a Christmas release (St. Nick is the Patron Saint of Brewers), has now been refermented on Boysenberries. Boysenberries are something we haven’t gotten a chance to play with so we thought this would be a good showcase piece for them. We wanted the beer to shine through fruit, but we wanted something nice and jammy to stick around and change with the culture.
That Girl is Boysen will be released in bottles as part of this December’s GOLD member club, and October 5th on draft in all of our pubs and special accounts, coinciding with my 2 year anniversary with The Libertine!