Atom Brewing Fig Harvest
I think this may be the first American beer to feature in the intermittent history of this blog - and I have to admit it was something of an impulse buy.
Those who follow me on Twitter (@Beer4John) will know that over the past few weeks I've browsed a few beery webshops and bought the, ahem, occasional bottle or two. One site I can particularly recommend is Etre Gourmet, and the last time I was 'window shopping' I noticed a range of wild/sour beers from a Stateside brewery new to me. I splurged on all four and if this one is anything to go by, I think I've made the right call.
So, Atom Brewing. Well for a start it's not to be confused with the UK's own Atom Brewing, based in Hull (coming soon here) - unlike their US namesakes I doubt they will be a "farmhouse inspired brewery" nor be "committed to mixed culture and spontaneous fermentation". Mind you it would be an exciting development if they were.
Atom Brewing's shiny new website seems a little short on the brewery's history but it looks as though it started up in 2015, and for most of that time has been based in Erie, Colorado, about 12 miles from the better-known, or at least better-heard-of, Boulder. It won't be in Erie any more though. In April this year the owners purchased a 45 acres farm in upstate New York and have moved the whole operation there. This should allow them to expand production as it seems the new brewery building is 2,000 square feet, rather than the 500 square feet back in Erie.
It was set up by Jeff and Chris Porn (a couple whose name you Google with care and, I suspect, perhaps a little trepidation...) and in a shameless lift from the website, I'll let them explain their philosophy:
Over the course of four and a half years we transformed the property into a small Hobby Farm and Brewery, growing as many ingredients as we could to use in our beers on the property. We also moved to a unique way of brewing by having a 5 barrel copper kettle built which we brewed in over open wood fire. Within a year we added on by having a copper mash tun and coolship built, this was the beginning of our spontaneous beer program.
Word started to spread about this little brewery in Erie Colorado, who brewed in a copper kettle, using wood fire and wild yeast harvested on the property. Before we knew it, people were asking for our beers in places like Belgium, Italy, France, the Netherlands and Australia.
It was reading all of this that made me think these beers were worth a try (mind you, if you don't do sour beers it would be as off-putting as I found it attractive). Which neatly brings us to Fig Harvest (6.5%). The basic premise you'll get from what's written above while the attractively tactile label provides some more background:
Farmhouse base beer aged for six months in neutral oak barrels. The beer was then moved to one of our custom built "Punch Down" barrels and added two pounds per gallon of figs. The fruit was punched down twice a day for two weeks then left to referment for two months.
Must say, I like the sound of a "punch down" barrel - I'm sure it could be a great stress reliever.
Cutting to the chase now, what's it like? The nose certainly has an appealing sharpness - although like many non-lambic spontaneous/wild beers perhaps lacks some of the depth and refinement you'd get from a Payottenland beer. The briefest balancing hint of figgy sweetness also comes through which, for me, adds to the appeal.
It pours a pale hazy orange and the refreshing sharpness continues throughout - with more of that background hint of sweet fruit just poking through. I wouldn't say this was particularly figgy, but they certainly bring something to the party. Everything hangs around for a while on the palate too - it's not one of those beers that makes its excuses and leaves early.
So, that's a thumbs up from me and I'm looking forward to trying the others, one of which, Blend One Beer Wine Hybrid, sounds particularly interesting.