Almanac Beer Co. | Apricot De Brettaville
Almanac Beer Co. makes “Farm to Barrel” seasonal beers, inspired by the culinary tradition began by Bay Area celebrity chef Alice Waters. Founded in 2010 by then-homebrewers, Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan, their beers tend to emphasize ingredients often found at local farmer’s markets. They are gypsy brewers, meaning they partner with various breweries around the Bay Area to produce their beer. They also team up with a different Northern California farm every harvest, to supply the fruit for all of their beers. Many of their beers are sour ales, but they also serve up a number of solid offerings in many other styles, as well, including Apricot De Brettaville.
This bretted saison features apricots from Northern California’s San Joaquin Valley in a delicious way. I have a strong bias in favor of the use of apricots in beers, and especially in wild ales. The apricot aromas jump out of the glass, filling your nose with a bouquet of natural tropical flavors. Their beers often make me think of walking through a California orchard on a sunny day.
As referenced in the name, this beer gets its sour flavor by being aged in oak barrels with brettanomyces yeast. I’ll also admit that I am very partial to brett flavors in my beer. However, some brewers certainly make better use of brettanomyces than others. Almanac, though, is masterful: this beer features a blend of twelve different brett strains, which lend it a nicely balanced, but not overpowering funk. The brewers then move the ale into wine barrels to let it mature. Finally, it is dry hopped, further adding to its complexity and drinkability. It will age well for years, if you can stop yourself from drinking it.
Almanac does not have a tasting room, unfortunately, but their beer can be found in bottles and on draft at many locations in California. They also have recently expanded their distribution to a number of locations across the country, so it is easier than ever to try their tasty beers. It’s hard to think of any other brewer right now that brings together so much of what is unique about both Northern California and craft beer.