Almanac’s logo stamp carries the words “Beer Is Agriculture,” which does a solid job of articulating their holistic, farm-to-barrel approach to brewing beers. Founded in 2010, the San Fran-based brewery strives to create not just great beer—but great beer that captures the essential elements of Northern California. Seasonal ales, in the purest sense, crafted from local ingredients and created to partner with local cuisine. Each harvest season they partner with a different regional farm to source the fruit used for the next beer. And, as one of their more recent releases triumphantly reinforces, that artisanal approach can yield remarkable results.
Named after the neighborhood in which Almanac resides, the Dogpatch Sour continues their tradition of edging into the unusual and expected beer styles. Modeled after the Flemish red ales, the Dogpatch is brewed with California Rainier Cherries, house-blend wild yeasts and bacteria, and San Francisco sourdough yeast, then aged in wine barrels. The end result pours a deep, earthy orange (the color of dried apricots), a slight departure from the more traditional red shades you might expect, with a tempting, effervescent head that quickly fades. But the cherries pronounce themselves on the aroma, and really scream forward with the first sip—a potent burst of sour that carries throughout. The barrel-aging brings in a bit of wood, but it remains subdued against the more tart notes, without any sort of underlying funk.
But the Dogpatch is hardly one-note.
Like the best beers in this genre, it drinks more like a wine—perhaps closer to an orange wine than you might expect, given that the barrels come from reds. Its complexity evolves as you sip, as the beer warms in the glass, as you move past that first lactic punch to pick out the more subtle flavors of vanilla, grass, and dry apple. A beer, in other words, that invites you to lean into the experience, learn more about the style, and yearn for another bottle.
Brewery: Almanac Beer Co.
City: San Francisco, California
Style: American Wild Ale (Flanders Red)
Availability: Limited Release on Draught and in 350ML Bottles