God, last week I typed two sentences comparing Frampaars to SHRBL and VSB and the fluid swapping contingency had a fucking meltdown. To avoid delaying the inevitable, I am going to sack up and review all of these Wisconsin burners at once. I hope you brought some Monistat because we gettin funky in today’s review:
WHITE LODGE, a blend of 1, 2, and 3 year old AMERICAN lambics. Wait, are we dealing with a no fooling AMERICAN Geueueuze?
Even just hazarding a multi year component blend of sour american ales makes IUDs go on full twist. God forbid someone pay homage to a belgian style. Well suffice it to say: this beer is fucking incredible and is probably the second best beer that Levi Funk and Oso have put out. As you may recall, I loved dweller on the threshold and this beer is the spiritual successor that improves on that model in every single way.
Simply stated, this is the closest thing I have ever tasted to “real gueuze” that was brewed in the United States. I don’t mean that in the usual whimsical pejorative where someone guffaws and then says to buy 3F Oude Gueuze instead. I am saying that I enjoy this more than many actual belgian offerings. Sure you aren’t supposed to say that. You’re supposed to make a series of conditional statements like drinking something from the U.S. is somehow a concession that you will do IN A PINCH. But seriously, this presents the creamy gristy mouthfeel that you want without being acetic or leading with pure acid. It combines that gruyere and brie rind with jazz apples, cobwebs, moving boxes, and old yearbooks. You get a blast from the past like overripe melon but then it settles into some lively nectarine. It is a stunning “knock off” the rollie doesnt even tick tock.
I have seen approximately zero ISOs for this beer, and I hope it stays that way. I am gonna scoop them up, none for Gretchen Wieners.
Rating: actively seek this out, it is well within the realm of the best Cable Cars.
DOOR KRIEK, “Door Kriek is a blend of lambic style beer that was aged in used french oak wine barrels for 18-24 months. It was then re-fermented with two pounds per gallon of tart cherries for three months. We are proud to be using 100% tart cherries grown by a small family farm operating in Door County, WI, an area long-famous for their superb cherry crops.”
Welp, you saw this one coming, which American brewery DOESN’T make a tired ass kriek? Even Selin’s Grove is still tossing grenadine into a blonde ale and calling that shit krieky, so why not FF?
Let’s get this out of the way: this beer is fine. It hits the parameters of a kriek, it never becomes some Sucrets nightmare, nor is it a tannic nocturnal emission. It hovers in the mid range of “pretty good” to “what else did you bring to this tasting.” Where Funk Factory excels is in restraint, and this never overstays its welcome. Unlike Upland Kriek, you can actually finish this entire beer by yourself without GERD or esophogeal reconstruction.
The real issue is that it plays it so safe that there’s little to reflect upon. The body is thin and dialed in, the cherries aren’t excessive, it just pads out the roster and draws a paycheck. For my money I will reach for Casey offerings every time, but this is still a slight notch above say the Bu’s of the world.
Rating: accept a pour at a tasting, then be a prick and casually reveal that you have had CCK to bolster your self esteem.
The Fox and The Grapes: I opened this with Alex at Upright brewing and no one even got HPV.
This is the shittiest beer that Funk Factory makes, so long as we are still pretending that Sikkaru never existed. That is to say, this would be a fucking crown jewel to many other breweries, but it happens to be the jankiest beer from an exceptional brewery. Let’s think of this as Funk Factory’s “Peleg” if you will.
The fruit profile is muddled and slurried, this is the least focused and the “dirtiest” of the FF offerings. The clarity and restraint typical to Levi Funk is not found in this romp through the vinous fields, post harvest. At higher temps there’s a diacetyl component that you could expect to be metabolized out, but nope, above 60 degrees the chinks in the armor start leaking disappointing first crush juices. If you absolutely loved Hangar 24 “First Crush” or some of the new Terrieux offerings from the brewery, then by all means seek this out.
I just didn’t dig that acetic profile that started to onset over longer periods. I took a bottle to a steakhouse in Riverside and, well I don’t really need to finish that story. It just stands out as a wholly mediocre offering in an otherwise solid Canon. This is like the Joey Fatone of Funk Factory.
Verdict: accept a pour if you are a completionist, but you dont need to trouble yourself with the alleged envy implicit in the beer namesake.
43n – 89 W, holy fuck was Levi attempting to rankle some jameses with this label. Right when I saw the copy for it, I knew moleskin journals would be clutched, Oakley sunglasses would fog up. This is two year old “lambic” aged in a brandy barrel, not the cognac you might have anticipated.
At the outset I have to remark that I think the real 50n is one of the most underwhelming Cantillon one off’s this side of Nomad, so I had low expectations for this one. The brandy actually works extremely well with that musky, cave cheddar and lemon profile that the FF lambic is wont to embrace. This is extremely novel and lovingly constructed, you get the acidity but it is refined with a long dry finish akin to a caramel riesling, granny smith apples dipped up in that fondue.
The finish isn’t as complex as some of the other Funk Factory bottles and the small format is ironic because this is the most crushable of the Oso/FF offerings. There is a degree of orange marmalade that would give Paddington a funky lil bear chub under that London Fog coat.
This is undeniably inspired and crafted in the shadow of JVR inspiration, but where it excels is not completely fucking anything up. It pays a loving tribute and even illuminates Funk Factory’s ability in a bold way. Some will refuse to get past the label, and fuck those people, more for us.
Verdict: I would say to absolutely track this down, but there were like 200 bottles of these given to friends and employees of FF, so I dont think you’ll see this shit kicking around for like REGAL+ BRUH PLZ, so good luck.
Framrood: alright so FF already pulled the pubes out of Cantillon, time to get dangerously close to nipple twisting of old Armand with Framrood.
The body and sheeting on this beer is phenomenal, prickly carbonation in the mouthfeel that never dips down into the bicuspids. Full disclosure: I am not the biggest fan of Frams in general as they tend to rely way too fucking heavily on dryness and acidity. That is generally the case here, but the edges have been sanded down in a meaningful way. This treads far away from the jamminess and, given the age and treatment of these casks, it’s not a surprise.
This is a marriage of the tartness from what you would expect from the likes of (non-2014) Framboos, but dials it back in that Sante Adairius fashion with pillowy soft finish. This is pretty pretty good and I was enamored with this up until Frampaars cast a gigantic fucking ID4 shadow over this one.
I would say that with the refined acidity and deft tannic presence, this would go toe to toe with the likes of mega whales like Framboise Du Fermier, with a slight edge to Side Project for the body and complexity. The point is, that is the realm that this exists in, silver medal or not.
Verdict: I would seek this out if it holds at the “Lou Pepe” levels it currently maintains. If you have acidic sensitivity, then maybe split this or look for a more restrained beer from Casey. This is an exceptional beer and you would be hard pressed to find a better iteration of the pure raspberry oeuvre.
“ITS NOT EVEN MORE RED ENOUF THO NEEDS MORE PURPLES PLS”
Cassis: the undersung golden child that you absolutely should lock down. Seriously, no one gives a shit about this beer and it pounds hard like Rockford Fosgates in a fruity bandpass box.
Alright, so from the top: it doesn’t have the hyped up fruits, it isn’t a wacky magenta, it wasn’t made in St. Louis, you didn’t have to win a raffle, you didn’t have to leverage a charity auction, so how could some champagne currants be good? HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE WHERES THE VANILLA BEANS EVEN.
I had zero expectations for this, largely because, champagne currants, what in the actual fuck. If I have been underscoring balance with complexity, this is the Yoshi of the Funk Factory cart racers. You get huge oak and lemon rind, there’s a ricotta cheese and fig jam sort of cream meets sweetness to it, the skins are the real forerunner and they present a long dry finish not unlike a sticky Gewurztraminer. You could pair this with damn near any meal and this bridges the som-cicerone gap with culinary aplomb.
It’s not going to be like anything you are anticipating, and for obvious reasons, there’s nothing I can really even compare it to. Think like, if Crooked Stave made a white grape persica? NOW I AM JUST REACHING.
Alright so let’s finish with the Paars that launched a thousand shits:
From the jump, look at how fucking beautiful this beer appears from a purely aesthetic perspective. The carb sustains and doesn’t get sniped by acidity, there is minor sheeting and duck down bubbles structure the marvelous bouquet of farmers market and springtime romps through the berry patch.
This is unquestionably the best beer that Funk Factory has ever made and, while people defensive of blue chip holdings in their cellars may pucker their buttholes, the only apt comparison lies in SHBRL and VSB. I am not saying it is outright better than either of those flawless AWA entries, but it certainly is worth mentioning in the same reflective capacity. It is a vast improvement upon the Framrood largely because the issues with dryness and acidity have been remedied with a sweet sticky blackberry preserves on the front end [insert classic Sts ‘no blackberries” reference, etc.]
The tart body somehow allows the muffled screams from the ultra aged lambic below to escape and the result is marvelous. It is cheese baguette with a sip of Malbec, skins and acidity work in tandem to underscore the produce but never stumble into the realm of over-reliance that sometimes is endemic of Casey fruit stands.
It takes a deliberate and cool hand to merge irreconcilable flavor profiles that both seek to dominate one another. This beer is a successful mediation in a nasty family law dispute of Berry v. Funk and both parties walk away with partial custody.
I am not making prescriptive statements about how this beer should be VALUED, I would like to impart that this is absolutely exceptional TASTING. My only regret is that I am negligent as fuck and still have not tried THE PURPLE as a logical counterpoint to this discussion. I would imagine it would be a fantastic parallel.
Verdict: if you only seek out one beer from Funk Factory, let this be it. My greatest fear is whether Funk factory can even reproduce or continue to make beers of this caliber. We shall see.
Alright, 2000 words. Go tittyfuck your second cousin.