Beer: Through the Brambles
Brewery: SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, GA)
Style: American Wild Ale
6.1% ABV / N/A IBU
SweetWater Brewing Company’s focus is IPA-heavy, emphasizing West Coast IPAs above all else, with a few easy-drinking session beers to round out the brewery’s core line-up. When it comes to SweetWater, you think about the super-dank 420 IPA series, but right now, the company’s more boundary-pushing beers are rolling out of its experimental offshoot, The Woodlands Project. Set up in 2017 to explore mixed-culture fermentation and barrel aging, The Woodlands Project frames SweetWater in a completely different light—this Georgia brewery can crank beers with mass appeal and niche offerings for the true ‘heads.
Through the Brambles – the inaugural release from The Woodlands Project—is a stunning blackberry sour aged in oak barrels for 12 years. Like a lot of American wild ales, this beer is chimerical: It’s a golden ale base that becomes a wild ale through fermentation. Through the Brambles features two wild yeast strains: Saccharomyces and the more well-known Brettanomyces for conditioning. The result is a sour that is low on acidity but bursting with blackberry flavor, albeit not particularly fruity on the nose.
I love what the aging does to Through the Brambles, and this beer makes a strong case for why a lot of sours could benefit from an extended vacation in an oak foeder. You can taste the Earthiness of the oak in every swill, and it adds some complexity to a sour that might otherwise dominated by the brett culture. At around $10 for a 375ml bomber, a bottle of Through the Brambles represents a bit of a splurge, but you should always pony up for high quality sours. The future for The Woodlands Project looks pretty exciting.
For more info, check out SweetWater Brewing Company here.