There are a lot of things to miss in 2020 and while an afternoon sitting inside a tasting room may not seem like a top priority, it is a simple pleasure I will not take for granted once this all (hopefully) passes. One of my favorite aforementioned tasting rooms is the Beachwood Blendery. It is the kind of place that draws you in from the street. Huge glass windows framed with dense succulents encourage you to peek inside to reveal wood paneling and a warm air about the place. Most intriguing of all is the scent. If you aren’t privy, the Blendery specializes in sour beers and you can smell the tartness before you even walk in. Sour beers are divisive, I know, but those who love them (a group I am a part of) REALLY love them and know how difficult it can be to find the right sour.
Sour beer is not cider, despite the common comparison, and is much younger than most of its other beer peers. The first sour was supposedly brewed in the mid-1990’s, reaching its peak popularity in recent years. These days, you can find a sour beer at most craft beer bars and restaurants, but it probably won’t be on tap at your local dive. For those of you reading this with your nose crinkled at the mere mention of sour beer, I understand, it’s an acquired taste, but I would also posit that you could find one you really enjoyed if you asked the right person. The right person seems to always be working at the Blendery, ready to give you a taste of something new or a recommendation based on other beers you like. They have funkier brews, some more sour, some more sweet, and recently I’ve loved their sours aged with wine grapes like the “Come in Grape, Your Time is Up” blend with orange Muscat grapes.
Their original sour, which is the base for most of their unique and ever-changing flavors, is “Chaos is a Friend of Mine”. A Belgian-style sour ale fermented and aged in oak barrels. It has just the right amount of tart and funk to tingle your taste buds, but not overwhelm them. It goes great with a salty snack like a soft pretzel or cheeseboard, both of which I’ve paired with this. Everything you taste here is small batch, quality controlled, and brewed right on site which you can really taste. Every pour is as fresh as the last. Their unique flavors are something to behold and offer a complex flavor profile that proves good things come to those who wait. All of the Blendery beers are aged anywhere from 9 months to 3 years. This beer is truly a labor of love between the long fermentation times, propagation of live cultures, and use of unusual ingredients.
While at the moment you may not be able to engage in my beloved ritual of sitting down at the bar in the Blendery and asking “what should I try today?”, you can still drink some of this great beer. It is sold at some local stores, like Wabi Sabi Village Market in the Lafayette, and available for pick-up/delivery and by the glass at Beachwood BBQ on the promenade. Pre-pandemic, they would typically have one or two offerings from the Blendery on tap at the restaurant, but now they have the whole array, so you can enjoy a glass right out on the patio, with some amazing BBQ of course. I just picked up a bottle of “Strawberry Provence” myself. A classic Blendery creation that smells sweet, offers a tart flavor with a delicious funky finish, and an interesting hint of Herbes de Provence. They do also have some of the coolest branding in the game. Unique names and original art, mainly drawn by the uber talented Thomas Campbell, make the experience of buying and drinking this beer even more pleasant. There have even been studies showing the fermentation practices used in developing sour beer is good for your digestive health and can help regulate your immune system. Times are changing, the world is uncertain. So yes, I think it is time you gave sour beer another shot and a glass from Beachwood Blendery is a great place to start.