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Mar 7, 2013 01:20 AM

Almanac Beer

I recommend seeking out these Farm to Barrel beers. The Farmer's Reserve #'s 1 and 2 are fantastic sours, rivaling anything from Russian River or Jolly Pumpkin, IMO.

I've also had bottles of a cacao-nib stout and a Belgian pale made with oranges, both of which were excellent.

They're in San Francisco, so I'm not sure how widely available they'll be, but they're worth finding.

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  1. I am starting to think that these three barrel aged beers really are worth picking up. I saw the price tags and have been reluctant based on Almanac's previous offerings, but it appears these three latest releases really are a step up in quality.

    I have been somewhat disappointed with all of the previous offerings (including the chocolate and pale ale you mentioned)

    1. BineVine in San Diego had some a few weeks back, but they disappeared quickly.

      1. It looks like they cost about as much as RR's sours, too. What kind of prices are you finding for these?

        12 Replies
        1. re: eethan

          I paid $10 for 12oz bottles. Seemed worth it to me.

          1. re: Josh

            Do you have a favourite? (Sounds like you've tried #1 and #2?) I'm thinking of grabbing one to try.

            1. re: eethan

              Hard to say. I thought each was really good, though definitely different.

              I'd probably say try the #1 if you're only going to go for one of them.

              What I really liked about #2 is something I've been missing in RR's Temptation for many years. When Temptation was first made it was aged in Chardonnay barrels and I really liked the additional flavor that came from the wine. #2 has that same flavor which Temptation no longer does.

              1. re: Josh

                Josh, if you're in SF, Healthy Spirits on Clement has it. Also, off topic, I ran into some FW Sucaba at BevMo.

                1. re: chuckl

                  Thanks. I grabbed a Sucaba at Whole Foods on Haight. I was just at Healthy Spirits on Clement and didn't see it but I'll look again. I did talk the wife into picking up one of the last Logsdon Peche and Bretts they had today. Looking forward to trying that one.

                2. re: Josh

                  Well I guess I didn't need to ask which one you liked, since I got excited and bought all three. Thanks for the tip---feeling anticipation to try them.

                  1. re: eethan

                    Just tried the Barrel Noir. Acetaldehyde is pretty noticeable, which ruins it a bit for me. I think the Farmers Reserves are both better beers.

                    1. re: Josh

                      I tried the Barrel Noir over the weekend, and I found it pretty good, although not too novel. I wasn't sure if it's intended to have some Belgian character from the '50% dark ale', but it mostly reminded me of barrel-aged Old Rasputin (i.e., tasted like a BA RIS)---thick, sweet, dark roast, chocolate with woody bourbon flavours.

                      I didn't pick up any acetaldehyde---which I'm glad of, since it wouldn't have fit in---even though I had seen your note and was expecting to. Do you think your bottle was oxidised? Or was that intentional (and I totally missed it!)?

                      1. re: eethan

                        I doubt it was intentional. I had a second bottle more recently and it was much less pronounced. I'm thinking that the first one I had was too cold, so some of the other flavors were masked.

                        In any case I agree that it's not especially novel. I'll be interested to see what you think of the Farmers Reserve bottles.

                        1. re: Josh

                          Finally got around to trying the No.2, alongside RR Sanctification (because why not).

                          It's quite good. The tartness is nicely pronounced, but the wine barrel and/or the fruits it's brewed with give it a pleasant suppleness and make it more interesting than just the sourness alone would do. Not taking anything away from Sanctification, but it's nice to have something complementing the bacteria. I didn't pick up on the ginger, which would have been neat, but it didn't feel like anything was missing.

                          (Bonus review from my wife: 'good!')

                          1. re: eethan

                            It will be interesting to see what you think of the #1. That's my favorite of the bunch, but the suppleness you speak of us definitely a bit less in it.

                            1. re: eethan

                              I was able to taste the #2, #3, and #4 on tap last week at The Library Alehouse in Santa Monica. Almanac had had a tap takeover there on Wednesday night, and I went in and tried a flight on Thursday.

                              #2 had a good balance, and I found the fruit to be the least identifiable of the three. Low carbonation. I'm always looking for good sours to use when introducing friends to sours, and this seems like it would work for that purpose.

                              #3 was very fruit forward, with the fresh strawberry scent and flavor jumping out of the glass. I wonder what would happen with this beer with time -- and whether it would go toward the awesome rotten strawberry funk that you get in The Bruery's Ichigo Highway. Overall, this was a refreshing, drinkable beer but I think I prefer #1 and #2 better.

                              #4 was very lemon forward, with the same sort of freshness I was getting in #3. This would be a great food beer, as the acid would help elevate some foods.

                              All three beers were relatively low carbonation, but that wasn't a huge surprise to me.

                              I would love to get my hands on a couple of bottles of all 4 of these beers and see what they do over time ... but at this point, I would hunt down 1 & 2 over 3 & 4. All super interesting and fun to taste, for sure.

                              I also had a small taste of the single hop Chinook IPA. I tend to find single hops more an interesting academic exercise than a super enjoyable glass to drink. They're great for teaching your palate what particular hops taste like, but I found the balance to be pretty in-my-face with the hops and bitterness. I would have liked something to help round it out a bit.

                              (full disclosure: I know the founders.)

            2. "Farm to Barrel" sort of leaves out the "detour" that the barley needs to make between the field and the brewery - the maltster. No mention if they're malting themselves or what malting company they are using.

              1 Reply
              1. re: JessKidden

                I believe they only use the "Farm to" names when the beers are made in collaboration with local ingredient sources for the ingredients added to the beer. All their beers don't have that labeling, the ones that do involve special flavorings like cacao nibs, oranges, etc.

              2. Josh, have you had Almanac's Barrel Noir yet? It's really good. Which of the Farmers Reserves did you prefer?

                2 Replies
                1. re: chuckl

                  I haven't found it anywhere. Would like to try it for sure. I think the #1 just edged out the #2 for me but both were excellent.

                  1. re: Josh

                    Star Grocery had a couple of the Barrel Noir on Saturday afternoon. I had already #1 and #2 in my hand so I passed on that one, hoping it might still be around next weekend.

                    Drank the bottle of FR#2 Saturday night, not bad at all. Definitely a step up from the previous releases.