Spotlight: Anderson Valley Brewing Company, CA

Anderson Valley Brewing Company

andy-hooper-largeIn the world of craft beer, brewers are always looking for new and exciting ingredients, and one brewery in northern California has used fruit, spices, herbs, vegetables and even tree branches to make experimental batches of beer.

Through the course of its research, Anderson Valley Brewing Company also experimented with a number of Perfect Purée flavors, finding its ideal match in Blood Orange. Andy Hooper, the director of brewery operations, says acidic fruits in particular harmonize well with certain beers.

“We quickly found that Blood Orange was an excellent complement to our new sour beer called The Kimmie, the Yink, and the Holy Gose,” Hooper says.

The pairing is responsible for Anderson Valley’s newest brand, the Blood Orange Gose, which debuts this fall. Hooper says the light-colored crisp, and acidic Gose, a German-style sour, has some undeniable likeness to champagne and makes an excellent Mimosa or, as Anderson’s employees dubbed it, a “Mi-Gose. Word spread quickly and soon many of the AVBC personnel were trying their [Holy] Gose with a splash of orange juice,” Hopper recalls. “It was even served this way at our taproom during our last Boonville Beer Festival.”

From there, the leap to the Blood Orange Gose was easy as soon as the company discovered Perfect Purée Blood Orange. Hooper says the new Gose has a slight copper-red hue with a rapidly dissipating white head. Its aroma is distinctly tropical and citrusy, with a faint underlying sour funk. Taste-wise, it’s crisp and effervescent with a bracing tartness and a fruity finish. Hooper says it pairs well with just about anything, especially spicy Mexican food and fish.

“In the true fashion of a Session beer, it goes really well with some friends, a sporting event, a hike, a picnic or any social gathering,” he says.

Both Goses are part of the brewery’s Highway 128 Session Series, a response to its fans’ requests for new and interesting beers that are lighter in body and alcohol. Hooper says delivering on that request was challenging because it’s tricky to create innovative beers that are also balanced and sessionable. (‘Sessionable’ refers to beers lighter in alcohol that can be enjoyed continuously throughout the course of an evening without tipping the bar stool, so to speak. Technically, Hooper says a sessionable beer should contain just 4.5 percent alcohol-by-volume.)

Originally, the Gose beers were scheduled to run for just a few months but due to their overwhelming popularity, they’re transcending the Session Series and becoming full-time brands available on draft and in 12-ounce cans across the nation. All of the brewery’s cans and bottles feature its legendary mascot, Barkley, a bear with deer antlers.

Located about two hours north of San Francisco, Anderson Valley is bordered by redwoods and oaks and dotted with world-famous wineries. When residents toast, they say a hearty ‘bahl horning,’ which translates to ‘good drinking’ in the peculiar local dialect called Boontling. Incidentally, ‘kimmie’ and ‘yink’ translate to ‘father’ and ‘son’ in Boontling, so The Kimmie, the Yink, and the Holy Gose is a just-slightly blasphemous reference to the Father, The Son, and The Holy Ghost.

Hooper got his start brewing beer, cider, mead and wine at home before embarking on formal training as a biochemist and master brewer. During his five years with Anderson Valley Brewing Company, he says he’s found that purees and concentrates are the closest he can get to the flavor and performance of whole fruit without brewery staff having to process all that fruit themselves. Other options like extracts, essences, and artificial flavors don’t have the same flavor quality, even if they are easier to use.

“We definitely plan to continue working with Perfect Purée in the future. It’s nice to be able to do business locally and the variety of fruit products leaves us many options for future experiments,” Hooper says.

Given that sour beers are gaining popularity and fruited sours are particularly hot, Hooper says he expects to see purees and concentrates used much more widely in the near future. So the Tamarind, Lychee, Papaya, Pink Guava and Meyer Lemon the brewery experimented with? They might be coming soon to a beer near you.