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harmony brewing

The third beer in Harmony Brewing Company’s new WOOD AGED WILD BEER series will be released on SATURDAY OCTOBER 1ST at 11:00am at both Harmony Locations!

“Tamworth” is sour golden ale aged in mead barrels.  Designed to be the sourest beer in our series of 4, this shiny gold colored beer is a thing of beauty.  The intense sour flavor is well balanced with hints of honey, pear, and stone fruit making it an extremely pleasant beer to quaff.  Far from a pucker bomb, the sour harmonizes with the complex body and aroma to create a refreshing and easy drinking beer.  With an ABV of 8.1 percent the Tamworth can be enjoyed right away, or it will continue to develop with age in a beer cellar.

To create Tamworth, our golden ale was first fermented in steel with a saison yeast.  Next, it was placed into 6 different mead barrels and aged for 6 months.  Each barrel was inoculated with a proprietary blend of souring agents, and allowed to develop its own unique flavor.  The barrels were then blended, bottled, wax dipped and serialized.

These bottles are extremely limited! The first two beers in this series sold out in bottles within 1 day.

Harmony Brewing Company will be releasing their very first WOOD AGED SOUR BEER in bottles and on draft at both Harmony locations on Thursday, July 7th at 11am.

“Red Wattle” Flanders style red ale is the first in a series of 4 wood aged sour beers that Harmony will be releasing this summer.

harmony brewing

A rare style in the United States, Flanders Red ale has been nicknamed the “Burgundy of Belgium.” Its deep red color, rich tannins, and complex aroma and flavor lead some to consider it more wine-like than any other beer style. The surprising complexity is achieved through a process of blending barrel aged ales. Harmony’s Red Wattle was aged in multiple types of oak barrels, each of which was separately inoculated with a proprietary blend of souring agents. Next, brewers sat back and let nature take its course allowing each individual barrel to develop its own completely distinct and surprising flavor- ranging from puckeringly sour and fruity, to mushroomy and earthy. When the time was right, the brewers chose which barrels to blend together to create the perfect flavor profile for this truly exceptional beer.

Red Wattle pours a deep maroon red, with lively carbonation and light white head. The aroma is of petrichor, tart fruit, and black cherries. The flavor is tartly sour, but well-rounded with notes of vanilla, dark fruit, and oak. It finishes dry, with a clean oaky tannin.

This first release of Harmony Wood Aged Sour Beers will be EXTREMELY LIMITED. Less than 100 bottles will be labeled, wax dipped, and serialized for sale. The Red Wattle will be available on tap at both locations, while it lasts. New releases will happen monthly: The “Babirusa” Dry hopped farmhouse ale, the “Tamworth” sour golden ale, and the “Old Spot” dark farmhouse ale will be released respectively.

brewery vivant

Plein de Vie, when literally translated, means “full of life.” There couldn’t be a more appropriate name to describe this new wood & wild fermentation series of beer from Brewery Vivant in Grand Rapids.

MittenBrew had the opportunity to chat with Kate Avery, Abbess of Beer, Brian Kuszynski, Master of Wood, and Jason Spaulding, President and Co-Owner at Brewery Vivant, about this much anticipated series release.

brewery vivant

“We’ve always offered something a little different to the Grand Rapids drinking audience. It’s been a road of education and talking, about flavors and different styles of beer. With Plein de Vie, wood aging and intentionally souring of these beers, it all comes back to that education experience for the consumer,” Avery shares as she shows off the three initial brews in their bottle release.

Indeed, Brewery Vivant is known for doing things a little differently—offering Belgian and French style old-world libation, and allowing their Brewers the opportunity to experiment and create complex, nuanced one-offs that eventually sparked the annual Wood Aged Beer Fest. With a recent expansion, more time and dedicated space to the souring process, they are able to take it to the next level—bottling and offering these taproom favorites on a larger scale and to a wider audience.

If you are familiar with Brewery Vivant, you’ll know that bottling their beer is also something new to their repertoire, but with good reason.

“Cans aren’t meant for letting a beer develop in the package,” Spaulding notes, “These beers especially can be more lively, and bottles simply offer the ability to hold more pressure.”

These are meant to be enjoyed when you are ready to enjoy them. Big, full bodied, unfiltered beers retain their characteristics better in a bottle instead of thin aluminum. Practically speaking, introducing live beer on their main canning line is a no-no. You don’t want to risk introducing wild yeast strains which could affect the taste of their staples. Beyond that, bottling is another way to differentiate this unique series of beer from Vivant mainstays.

Unique also is the packaging. Highly detailed, crisp clean lines with variants in color that reflect the beer each vessel holds. Each label also explains just how each beer was aged and soured. Tap handles in the pub for this series are old barrel staves, wood burned with Vivant’s iconic rooster. Just another way to distinguish Plein de Vie, no matter how you are drinking it.

On Sunday, June 5 at Noon, you will be able to try these three initial offerings:

Angelina – The mother of all Vivant’s sours, if you will, is finally offered in bottles—much to the delight of long time Brewery Vivant fans. The very first sour beer made at the pub, a barrel named Angelina produced something tasty, magical, and sparked the direction of Vivant’s future sour offerings. Inoculating other barrels from this mother to keep the culture going, this pleasant, wood-barrel aged sour retains its majesty for (hopefully) years to come.

Harvest Breed – A brand new brew, this stainless steel brettanomyces wild sour ale offers a big sour punch on the noise, with the bretta coming through as the beer warms to room temperature. Almost citrusy, this sour offers a bergamot, earl gray tea flavor with a hint of lemon pith or orange rind.

Habanango – Many of you may remember this from a previous Wood Aged Beer Fest, but don’t expect the exact same brew. Feeder fermented and barrel-aged, this sour is blended with habanero peppers and mango to give a little heat with the sweet. Strongly mango on the nose, the peppery sweet heat of the habanero creeps up on you, making you want to take that next sip.

With safety and containment always a top priority, we end our tour, complete with booties on our feet, in what’s known as “the Funk Room,” where all the wood aging and wild fermented magic happens. Brian Kuszynski meets us there to share the story of how Plein de Vie came to be.

Carving out this separate space allows the Brewers to finally produce these sours and wild ales without risk of cross contamination, and at a volume that allows for bottling. Thank goodness.

Brian takes us around the crowded Funk Room, lovingly tweaking small things here and there, continuing to work while talking with us as we bask in the woody glory of all things wild.

brewery vivant

A comment remembered from a gentlemen at a previous Wood Aged Beer Fest, asking where he could find this in his home state, put the bug in Brian’s mind to produce these sours at a larger scale.

“Obviously we are passionate about beer, and we’ve always loved wild and sour ales. We’ve had opportunities to make them and packaged them here and there, but always on a really small scale. This gives us the ability to make a larger quantity, get it out there and let the public try it, age it, cellar it. They can share it with their friends, introduce them to something new. Here and out-of-of state, even. We hope to be able to produce beers in this brand at the rate of 2-4 a year. But, of course,the beer tells us when it’s ready.”

 

Photography: Steph Harding

Brewery Vivant will launch three varieties of wood and wild-fermented beers to kick off their Plein de Vie (“full of life”) series on June 5 at the Brewery. The series includes wood barrel aged beers, wooden foeder (“food-er”) aged beers, and stainless wild fermented beers. Plein de Vie will be available on draft and in 500ml glass bottles, and will be distributed throughout the brewery’s footprint of Michigan and Chicagoland.

brewery vivant

Plein de Vie – Belgian Tradition & BV Tradition

Wood aging beers has long been a traditional brewing technique in Belgium. Belgian brewers are known for embracing not only local ingredients but also the local micro-flora when brewing. Brewery Vivant is rooted in this Belgian tradition. The Grand Rapids brewery has been known for its small batch wood-aging program since its founding in 2010. The first sour beer to come alive at the Pub was from a barrel named Angelina. It paved the way for more and deeper experimentation culminating in the brewery’s first-ever Wood-Aged Beer Festival, which took place on its small patio and touted eight different wood-aged beers. This year’s WABF (Sept 17, 2016) will boast some 20 varieties.

Keep it Separated

Housed in a former funeral chapel dating back to the 1900s Brewery Vivant’s vaulted wooden barrel ceiling has always given the brewing team cause for concern as wild yeast lives all around us and wooden beams are difficult to deep clean. “We carved out a portion of our brewery, a physically separated space, to devote to wild yeast strains and souring bugs.” Says Brian Kuszynski, the brewer that heads up the affectionately termed ‘Funk Room’. “We’re pumped to finally be able to produce these types of beers at a volume that we can share them with people outside our walls.” Kuszynski says the June 5 launch will consist of three brands with the intent to distribute 2-4 per year as the beer “tells us when it’s ready.”

Why Glass Bottles?

Known for its 16-ounce pint cans, Brewery Vivant will package Plein de Vie beers in a 500ml glass bottle. Bottles were chosen because of the wild yeast strains and potential for flavors to develop. While the beer is released ready to drink immediately, the glass is rated to hold the beer for extended periods of time. “Aluminum cans are really meant as a delivery vessel, not a storing vessel.” Says owner & president Jason Spaulding. “Plein de Vie literally translates to ‘full of life’ and a glass bottle should hold the integrity of the beer’s life. These beers can be cellared and will continue to develop and change over time.”

Be abrewery vivant Part of the Start

To launch the series, three beers will be released from the pub and then into distribution on draft and in bottles. Pub opens at Noon on Sunday June 5.

  • Habanango: a foeder fermented and barrel-aged blended sour ale with habanero peppers & mango

  • Harvest Breed: a stainless brettanomyces wild sour ale

  • Angelina: a wood barrel-aged sour

“When we first started, we named our barrels in the hurricane naming convention: Angelina, Bertha, Constance, etc.” Says Spaulding. “Angelina was our first barrel. It produced a distinct and pleasant sour character that we’ve since inoculated into other wooden barrels. That first batch developed a cult-like following and so far, the barrel keeps producing. It’s become our ‘house sour’.”

 

 

Brewery Vivant will launch three varieties of wood and wild-fermented beers to kick off their Plein de Vie (“full of life”) series on June 5 at the Brewery. The series includes wood barrel aged beers, wooden foeder (“food-er”) aged beers, and stainless wild fermented beers. Plein de Vie will be available on draft and in 500ml glass bottles, and will be distributed throughout the brewery’s footprint of Michigan and Chicagoland.

brewery vivant

Plein de Vie – Belgian Tradition & BV Tradition

Wood aging beers has long been a traditional brewing technique in Belgium. Belgian brewers are known for embracing not only local ingredients but also the local micro-flora when brewing. Brewery Vivant is rooted in this Belgian tradition. The Grand Rapids brewery has been known for its small batch wood-aging program since its founding in 2010. The first sour beer to come alive at the Pub was from a barrel named Angelina. It paved the way for more and deeper experimentation culminating in the brewery’s first-ever Wood-Aged Beer Festival, which took place on its small patio and touted eight different wood-aged beers. This year’s WABF (Sept 17, 2016) will boast some 20 varieties.

Keep it Separated

Housed in a former funeral chapel dating back to the 1900s Brewery Vivant’s vaulted wooden barrel ceiling has always given the brewing team cause for concern as wild yeast lives all around us and wooden beams are difficult to deep clean. “We carved out a portion of our brewery, a physically separated space, to devote to wild yeast strains and souring bugs.” Says Brian Kuszynski, the brewer that heads up the affectionately termed ‘Funk Room’. “We’re pumped to finally be able to produce these types of beers at a volume that we can share them with people outside our walls.” Kuszynski says the June 5 launch will consist of three brands with the intent to distribute 2-4 per year as the beer “tells us when it’s ready.”

Why Glass Bottles?

Known for its 16-ounce pint cans, Brewery Vivant will package Plein de Vie beers in a 500ml glass bottle. Bottles were chosen because of the wild yeast strains and potential for flavors to develop. While the beer is released ready to drink immediately, the glass is rated to hold the beer for extended periods of time. “Aluminum cans are really meant as a delivery vessel, not a storing vessel.” Says owner & president Jason Spaulding. “Plein de Vie literally translates to ‘full of life’ and a glass bottle should hold the integrity of the beer’s life. These beers can be cellared and will continue to develop and change over time.”

Be abrewery vivant Part of the Start

To launch the series, three beers will be released from the pub and then into distribution on draft and in bottles. Pub opens at Noon on Sunday June 5.

  • Habanango: a foeder fermented and barrel-aged blended sour ale with habanero peppers & mango

  • Harvest Breed: a stainless brettanomyces wild sour ale

  • Angelina: a wood barrel-aged sour

“When we first started, we named our barrels in the hurricane naming convention: Angelina, Bertha, Constance, etc.” Says Spaulding. “Angelina was our first barrel. It produced a distinct and pleasant sour character that we’ve since inoculated into other wooden barrels. That first batch developed a cult-like following and so far, the barrel keeps producing. It’s become our ‘house sour’.”
 
 

GRAND RAPIDS — Tucked away in the bowels of Brewery Vivant are some aging brews that will be ripe for public consumption when they’re tapped in less than two weeks.

These barrel-aged brews — some of which have been aging for up to three months — are rolling out for customers Oct. 22, as the Belgian-/French-inspired brewery celebrates an event its calling “Wood-Aged Beer Celebration.”

“(Brewmaster) Jacob (Derylo) has been delving into aging a lot of the beers we do,” Vivant manager Rick Muschiana said. “A lot of the beers we are putting in the barrels are great beers themselves. He made the decision to purchase a lot of barrels and play around with some stuff.”

Barrel-aged beers can take on many forms, and Vivant’s Derylo — with the blessing of owner Jason Spaulding — is not afraid to jump outside of the box in the brewing process. Belgian Sours are a much-anticipated favorite, a brew that is purposely spiked with healthy bacteria that gives the brew a slightly tart flavor.

All of these take an expert eye to make, and because of the unique nature of each individual oak cask, Derylo insists that “the beer will tell you when it’s ready.”

“We kind of taste them every week and see how they’re doing,” assistant brewer Brian Kuszynski added. “Cool things happen when you age beer. It makes the beer more complex and interesting.”

Some of the brews have been aging for just a few weeks, while others have spent two or three months aging. After six months of planning for the event, the brewery has 12 brews ready to be tapped for its Wood-Aged Beer Celebration.

“I think it’s unique that we’re going to have so many,” Kuszynski said. “It’s not something everyone is doing — having a festival that is completely based on wood-aged beer. It’s giving people an opportunity to really run the gamut and see what the beer can do inside a celebration. We’re really passionate about wood-aged beer in the brewery.”

Starting at 1 p.m., the wood-aged barrels will be tapped outside in Vivant’s beer garden. Muschiana said a few of the specialty brews will be available inside as well.

Admission is free with a token system for tasting the high-ABV beers, which include myriad styles for every palate — bourbon and rum to name a couple. In addition, Chef Drew Turnipseed is pairing food, including sauerkraut and homemade sausages for the event, which runs til 9 p.m.

“The celebration is a culmination of all of the beers we’ve been brewing,” Kuszynski said.

Located in the East Hills Neighborhood on Grand Rapids’ Southeast Side, Brewery Vivant was founded in December 2010 by former New Holland Brewing Co. founder Jason Spaulding and his wife Kris. The brewpub, 925 Cherry SE, is housed in an old funeral chapel constructed in 1915. The establishment focuses on French and Belgian styles of brewing, paired with food.

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