In the fall of 2017, I took a weekend trip down to Florida. Leaving the Paste headquarters in Atlanta behind, my girlfriend and I loaded into the car and drove down to Tallahassee, a city I’d never set foot in at the time. We were there to attend the Florida Tap Invitational, an annual celebration of the best in Florida beer, but more specifically I was there to survey the growth of a state that has finally gotten its butt in gear, when it comes to world class craft brewers. In only half a decade or so, Florida has managed to go from a state associated with beach-friendly lagers to one producing some of the country’s most sought-after sours and imperial stouts. The timing was extremely fortuitous—only days later, Tallahassee’s Proof Brewing Co., the host of the festival, placed in the top 10 of our blind tasting of 176 DIPAs.
But Proof wasn’t the only brewery I stopped at while visiting Tallahassee. I also made a point of checking out Ology Brewing Co., one the city’s youngest brewers, but also clearly one of its most exciting. It was immediately clear to me that Ology was occupying a certain role in this beer ecosystem—earned or unearned, I haven’t sampled enough to say for sure—of the hyped young kids on the block. More than any of the other Tallahassee breweries, their output reflected what is currently hot in modern American brewing. Which is to say, their IPA is hazy and juicy—but they’ve also invested in getting a true, artisan barrel-aging program off the ground as soon as they possibly could.
Dynamic Fermentum, an American wild ale with peaches and apricots, is the first bottled offering in that series. It’s a mixed culture beer that was aged in red wine barrels with what I assume were whole peaches and apricots, and then bottle conditioned—the same kind of process one would see from Jester King or a similarly acclaimed American wild ale producer.
On the nose, this beer features piercing, bright fruitiness, with strong impressions of sour lemon and fuzzy stone fruit. It’s tangy and almost saline-smelling, suggesting a pretty tart beer, with some little hints of bready/doughy malt under the much more obvious stone fruit. A little bit of bretty funk rounds everything out, on a beer that smells more dry than sweet. All in all, really lovely nose, and a very pure peach/apricot character.
On the palate, things are slightly more unbalanced. This beer is quite tart, with a strong lactic sourness that might be just a tad too boisterous for its own good, but mellows on repeated sips. It’s quite dry, which has the effect of accentuating the oak/woody flavors and giving the fruit a quality like that of dry white wine. There are some nice stone fruit impressions here as well, but the relative lack of residual sweetness keeps them from being as “juicy” as they would likely be perceived otherwise. Thanks to the relatively low 5.5% ABV, though, this beer is fairly thin of body and easy drinking despite the considerable tartness—actually quite refreshing, if you can get past the sourness. You don’t really think of a 500 ml bottle of American wild ale as “beach beer,” but it would still fit pretty well there.
All in all, this strikes me as a good beer that could probably be subtly tweaked into a great one with only a few small changes. In particular, a little bit more residual sweetness would serve to accentuate the natural character of the fruit in a way that would more clearly make them the star of the show.
Of course, as with anything else, that’s just a matter of taste. We’ll look forward to trying more wild ales from these guys in the future.
Jim Vorel is a Paste staff writer and resident beer guru. You can follow him on Twitter for more drink writing.