Some people readily assume that because I wasn’t a huge fan of regular/BA abaraxas and didn’t think the world of BA Sump that I somehow have a chip on my shoulder against Perennial. This is certainly not the case, and I hope today’s review communicates that effectively. I enjoyed Perennial’s light offerings, smashed that peach berliner and would bang it again repeatedly.
Since I am usually obliques deep in that farmhouse swagg, I clearly needed to get these decadent treats from Side Project in and around my mouth. Today I get to dabble in their wild program to see what the business is. Initially I was confused because people were calling this a saison, but this is straight wild, like that kid with divorced parents who doesn’t give a shit about learning long division. Buckwild on that farmhouse tip.
Side Project Brewing
Missouri, United States
Style | ABV
American Wild Ale | 6.00% ABV
I can dance around the stylistic nuances all day long, or you can read the commercial description and decide for yourself:
“Side Project Brewing is excited to announce the release of our first blended beer, an American Wild Ale named Pulling Nails. Pulling Nails will be a series of blended beers that explore the art of blending to create beers with extraordinary depth, complexity and balance. This will be labeled as Blend #1 and it is the blend of 4 unique beers, each of which add their own characteristics to the final beer.
These 4 beers are:
Spontaneous Wild (Lambic-style, native microflora from my family’s farm) – aged 25 months in French Oak White Wine (bright citric acid, mushroomy, musty)
Flanders Red – aged 18 months in American Oak Chambourcin Barrels (tart candy, robust oak, big acid, very light acetic)
Saison du Fermier – aged 9 months in American Oak Chardonnay Barrels (citrus and orchard fruit, billowy, delicate)
Saison de Rouge – aged 6 months in American Oak Chambourcin Barrels (Amarillo hopped, pear notes, 100% house Brett)”
So in this saison, we have lambic style microflora, french oak barrels, a Flanders red component, chardonnay barrel treatment, and Chambourcin treatment with brett all up in the cut like what. Wild as Jesse and the Rippers, leather jackets and motorcycles in the hallway.
A: This looks somewhere in between a straight up Flanders red and a Supplication stand in with those amber and light garnet tones shimmering up in that tomestem. The carb is spot on and crackly with that acrid anger that hisses in tiny bubbles, kicking and revolting on their way to timeout. The lacing is insubstantial and the way the beer settles in just APPEARS sour, if such a thing is possible. There’s no hefty residuals to calm the nerves, this shit looks sleek, svelte, bone dry, and wielding an acidic katana sword.
S: The nose is intensely tart and opens with a cherry, currant, ripe peach, them strawberries the size of your fist you see by the roadside, and sliced Granny smith. It is clearly intensely lactic on the nose, and the brett aspects are either entirely dominated at this point, or they need time to gather themselves. The oak is restrained and this is clearly a berry show, not the white wine matinee you paid to see. However, the berry profile isn’t some jammy adjunct fest, it’s like a crisp farmers market spritzer that captures the tannins of the fruits, rather than their explicit juices. Again, the cherry and subtle raspberry dominance reminds me of a cuvee of Supplication and Crooked Stave Batch 1, and this is a very good platform to work upon.
T: At colder temps, this beast is intensely sour. The depth of all those fun fruits and berries take a backseat for a moment to deep punishing tannins that beg for some malty discipline or complexity to even out their keel. Once it warms up a bit, the show really starts and a fantastic bouquet of Jamba Juice citrus, those acidic notes meld seamlessly into peach and fresh cut grass. This doesn’t present a huge brett profile at any juncture, however, there is a certain joie de vivre of earthiness like a rye presence in the closer that keeps all of the fruits and acids in check. That slightly bitter mushroom closer gives a faint oaky and metallic presence to provide a more rounded approach from the single note Cascade and Upland offerings that sometimes kick your jaw inside our and give you no solace.
M: This is very dry and after your first pour you will feel your gums grumbling about mistreatment, asking to see HR. This strips the valleys of your mouth of that mossy coating you maintain and leaves a raw tender shell of a face, bursting with berry goodness. There is a give and take, for each sip imparts an impartial love but cuts deeper, like when you eat Flaming Hot Cheetos and simply cannot stop the mouth abuse, chaining your own demise. It is punitive but thoroughly enjoyable.
D: The formula for this could succincly be stated (Smell + Taste) / Mouthfeel, the greater the sum of S+T, the larger integer presented for the ultimate drinkability payoff. If you can’t handle intensely acidic sours, this might not be your 160 bpm club smasher. However, for those of a more solid constitution, maybe you push yourself to that realm, skull an entire bottle and let your orthodontist figure it out. This could go either way, but drinking this beer is an absolute pleasure and a phenomenal take on arguably one of the most contested styles. Nothing DDB could offer could diminish what this beer has already accomplished, a tip of the acidic bowler to Mr. King.
Narrative: The Jennings farm had seen better days, economically and agriculturally. The simple plot of 50 acres was home to the best cherries in the tri-state area for 3 generations, that is until Impact Confections moved into the adjoining parcel. Most of the simple folks in Shamsville, Missouri had never even heard of Atomic Warhead candies before they moved into town, now you could scarcely visit the general store without hearing about some new sour-based upset. “SO NOW TREVIN’S DENTIST BILLS ARE SKY HIGH. The nerve of this candy joint!” one local resident boomed, fuming while she purchased her sundries. Dirk Jennings shook his head and lamented, “boy she ain’t got the half of it, turns out their acidic stores have tapped into my underground well, now all my cherries are plum puckerin’ like a bovine b-hole at milking time.” His statement was not entirely hyperbole. The fruits from the farm had absorbed copious amounts of citric acid, changing his old farm into something wildly different. “I mean, I try to pick ’em, but my gloves get all itchy and I come in smelling like lemon zest and sour peaches, that ain’t no cherry pickin’ way,” Mr. Jennings bemoaned. The times were changing, simple farmhouses needed to adapt to the tart reality of modern consumerism. If someone isn’t exceedingly sour or demonstrably wild, the average customer might just drive right on past the simple old farms dotted along that Missouri interstate. You can ask the old Hennepin’s up in north county if you don’t believe me. The world done passed them by.