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Denizens Will Make It Funky Tomorrow; Here Are Our Beer Picks

Silver Spring's Denizens Brewing Company is hosting their annual Make It Funky festival tomorrow from 1-5pm (tickets here). We're deep into beer festival season, folks, with multiple options available each weekend. For fans of sour and funky offerings beers, Make It Funky (aptly) is your best bet. A great collection of local, out-of-town, and in some cases out-of-market breweries will show off their brews. The list is daunting, and it can be hard to figure out which beers are worth your time (although once you buy a ticket, tastings are unlimited). Our staff combed through the list to pick out which brews caught our eye and would get our nod. Those are below. Have fun out there tomorrow!

Bill DeBaun

3 Stars - Smashing Atoms - Barrel Fermented Sour Ale - 7.5%
“Chardonnay barrel fermented sour with a blend of multiple Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus cultures.”
Take: Why this and not “Get the Funk Out of Here”? I’m more partial to Chardonnay barrels than French Oak, I guess. This is a Funkerdome release that was previously brewery-only as far as I know. If you want a peek into what’s going on in the 3 Stars sour program, this is your chance.

Allagash - Hive 56 - Oak-Aged Dark Sour Ale - 9.2%           
“Dark sour ale aged with honey in an oak foudre for eighteen months.”
Take: Anything Allagash holds onto for 18 months is worth your time. That includes leftover Chinese food, socks, tax returns, and especially dark sours with honey that have been given plenty of time to ferment all the way.

Avery - Ginger Sour (Botanicals and Barrels series) - Barrel Aged Sour with Ginger – 6%   
“Verdant fresh ginger is artfully rooted in radiant tartness, peaking in the unmistakable burst and bite of this bright barrel-aged sour ale.”
Take: I’m a sucker for ginger, especially fresh ginger. If you tell me a beer has ginger in it, I’m buying it. Avery has great sour and barrel programs, and if they meet up here and add fresh ginger, I’m helpless to the call. The “burst and bite” had damn well better be unmistakable though, Adam Avery, because I’m not here for some namby pamby ginger experience.

Black Narrows Brewing - Mixed-Fermentation Saison – 6%            
“An Eastern Shore wild ale fermented with our house oyster yeast and a blend of Brettanomyces, Dry-hopped with Mosaic and aged in Fabbioli Vineyards red wine barrels.”
Take: Our good friend Josh Chapman (formerly of Bluejacket) is finally off the ground down in Chincoteague with Black Narrows Brewing. All three of his oyster-incorporating brews are worth your time at Make It Funky, but I’m especially interested in this one because not only does it include the house oyster yeast(??!!), but the beer is aged in Virginia wine barrels. Get over to his table and show them some love.

Bluejacket - Blue Highway - BA Mixed-Fermentation Ale with Local Blueberries - 5.5%      
“Blue Highway is a blend of oak barrel-aged mixed-fermentation saison with spontaneously fermented ale aged two years in oak barrels. The blend has then been matured on three pounds/ gallon fresh, locally-grown blueberries (Northern Neck, VIrginia) for two months.”
Take: Buried in this particularly verbose beer description is something that’s easily missed: this beer incorporates beer from Bluejacket’s coolship. I’ve had the chance to check out earlier versions of this at Bluejacket, and although it violates my “no blueberries in beer” rule, this has developed nicely. Originally an oak bomb, that aspect is mellowing out and giving way to a deep blueberry flavor and a yeast profile that while not quite up to true lambic complexity is worth your time for the experience of trying a DC-based coolship beer.

Denizens – Apetit - Sour Ale – 5%             
“This petit sour ale was fermented in our open fermenters using a blend of Belgian yeast, Brettanomyces, and bacteria. Aged in fresh Knob Creek and Buffalo Trace bourbon barrels for 4.5 months, this sour ale has note of tropical fruit and sour pineapple with subtle notes of oak rounding it out.”
Take: Of all the Denizens beers on offer at Make It Funky, this is the most interesting one to me. A five percent sour in fresh Knob Creek and Buffalo Trace barrels runs the risk of picking up too much barrel and having its profile blown out, but the description references tropical fruit and sour pineapple, so maybe this will drink more like a cocktail. Intriguing.

Free Will – Wildhack - Barrel Aged Sour Brown w/Blueberries - 7.4%        
“A carefully crafted collaborative blend with William Reed (Johnny Brenda’s & Standard Tap), comprised of 2+ year foudre aged Flemish Red, 2-year blueberry sour, and a rum barrel aged red saison. Aromas of blueberries, dark bread, sherry and port, with deeply complex sour flavors of dark berries, candied plums, currants and musty oak. A multidimensional sour benefited by the extended aging process.”
Take: Cannot believe I’m putting two beers with blueberries onto this list. What the hell am I thinking? I haven’t had anything from Free Will, but Jake speaks highly of them (see below). I have no idea if this beer is going to work out. There is a whole lot of shit going on in here, but the individual threads are interesting to me. My logic is that if these beers have been around for two years or longer, the brewers have had plenty of time to get familiar with them and blend them into something that works.

Gordon Biersch - Flanders Red - 6.1%     
“Tons of black cherry, dark and milk chocolate, vinous, peach - slightly herbal and creamy.”
Take: Don’t skip this because it was brewed by Gordon Biersch. The Flanders that Travis Tedrow made at Navy Yard rivals any sour made in D.C. Always in for a well-made Flanders Red.

Great Raft Brewing – You, Me & Everyone We Know™ (Batch 004) - Fruited Sour Ale - 6.5%
“Foeder fermented golden ale aged on pluot fruit for two months. The pluot is a hybrid stonefruit, made by cross breeding apricots and plums. The result is a beautiful, rose-colored sour with a depth of sweetness and layered acidity.”
Take: Great Raft Brewing (co-founded by DCBeer editor emeritus Andrew Nations and his partner Lindsay) have developed a lovely program of sour and funky beers. You, Me, and Everyone We Know is a delicate, complex offering, no matter the fruit on which it is aged. The series achieves a really beautiful balance between the sweetness of the fruit (in this case, the apricot aspect of pluots shines) and tartness from the yeast.

Great Raft Brewing - Oceans Between Us™ (Batch 004) - Brett IPA – 7%
“100% Brettanomyces IPA from our Belgian program showcasing an elusive variety of Southern Hemisphere hop called “Nelson Sauvin.” Nelson Sauvin throws nice layers of fruit and white wine qualities that really shine atop fresh and fruity Brettanomyces.”
Take: I’m not normally in for 100 percent Brett-fermented IPA because I think it makes a finished product that is too dirty and earthy. Not so here. The Brett dries out the beer and offers just a little bit of funk. Nelson Sauvin is a gorgeous hop that offers white grape and stone fruit notes. This beer is the total package.

Hellbender - Brett? Present. (w/ raspberries) - Fruited Brett Ale - 6.2%    
“100% Brettanomyces fermented beer aged for 2 months on locally grown raspberry puree with even more locally grown raspberry puree added post-fermentation.”
Take: There are two versions of this at Make It Funky, raspberry and peach. I haven’t had a 100% Brett beer from Hellbender yet, so interested in seeing what they’re doing with fruit and funk over there these days.

Lost Rhino - Red Flanders - Red Wine Barrel-aged Sour Ale - 5.8%
“Our Red Flanders Sour Ale has been aged in red wine barrels for a period of 13 months. This is our attempt at a classic red ale from West Flanders. Red to brown in color, this sour beer is moderate in lactic acidity, with a touch of acetic acid, and notes of both green and candied apple.”
Take: Jasper Akerboom at Lost Rhino is something of a wizard with barrel-aged sour ales. This beer has been in his loving care for over a year, which should translate to something magical on Saturday.

Right Proper - Kick.Kick.Snare - Dry-Hopped Berliner Weisse - 3.3%
“A tart wheat ale fermented with lactobacillus. Dry-hopping with Citra and Cascade enhance the bright and acidic flavors of peaches, apricots and citrus.”
Take: One of my favorite Right Proper beers. If it’s warm on Saturday, this will be perfect. This is intensely tart, bordering on overly so, but I can’t seem to get enough because it is so refreshing and the hops are deliciously juicy and fruity.

Two Roads - Workers Stomp - Tart Saison aged in Chardonnay Barrels - 7.5%
“Chardonnay Barrel aged Saison”
Take: The problem with Two Roads is that they are horrible at writing beer descriptions (sorry, folks, but I’ve never seen more than a five word beer description about one of your beers). I think this will be a sleeper pick because Two Roads doesn’t have a renowned reputation in the DC beer scene as far as I know, but they make great beer, and this should surprise.

Upland Brewing - Darken - Barrel-Aged Sour Brown Ale – 9%
“Belgian-style sour ales heavily influenced our Sour Program in the beginning, and Darken is a take on an "old ale" or Flanders Oud Bruin style. We add nearly the entire spice rack to this ale, including star anise, ginger, grains of paradise, black pepper, and coriander. Formerly named Dantalion (the powerful Great Duke of Hell, if you’re curious), Darken is complex ale with an approachable tartness and flavors of spice, fruit, caramel, and chocolate. Darken has a medium-low body, with a dry, spicy finish.”
Take: Dantalion (this beer’s former iteration) was at SAVOR 2016, and that beer was (infinite string of 100 emojis). Don’t let the spices throw you off; they’re not overpowering. As far as dark sours go, with blending a tart profile with some roasted flavors and retaining some malt sweetness, this is tops.

Jake Berg

2SP - Brett Pils - Brett Kellerpils – 5%
“German style kellerbier bottle conditioned with Brett claussenii” 
Take: Brett and Pils go surprisingly well together. 

Allagash – Ganache - Fruited Brett Ale - 7.5%
“Our marketing director- Jeff Pillet-Shore's Pilot recipe gone big time! It is inspired by a chocolate raspberry cake his wife makes him every year for his birthday. This dark burgundy-colored beer is fermented in stainless with both our house yeast and Brettanomyces claussenii before aging on fresh, local raspberries.”
Take: I want two ounces of this, maybe more if they actually pull it off.

Black Narrows Brewing - Mixed-Fermentation Saison – 6%
“An Eastern Shore wild ale fermented with our house oyster yeast and a blend of Brettanomyces, Dry-hopped with Mosaic and aged in Fabbioli Vineyards red wine barrels.”
Take: I'm very interested in trying anything from former Bluejacket brewer Josh Chapman, and of the three he's bringing this one looks to be the best. 

Denizens - Born Bohemian - Czech Pilsner - 4.9%
“This Czech-style pilsner is straw in color and light in body finishing with a round mouthfeel. This beer distinguishes itself from the German-style pilsner due to its softer water profile and the use of Czech Saaz hops. Light toasty malt is complemented by a floral and spicy hop character throughout leaving you with a balanced and refreshing beer.”
Take: This isn't a sour, but I think it's their best beer and is drinking well. Pop and Tums and take a break from the acidity with this beer. 

Free Will - 2014 Kriek Sour Ale - Lambic Inspired Sour Aged with Kriek Cherries - 4.9%
“Pulled from a hidden secret stash in the depths of the Sour Cellar, this vintage 2014 Lambic inspired Sour Ale was aged with Kriek cherries. Lush cherry notes meld beautifully in this mature sour.”
Take: Free Will is a sleeper pick here. They've been making sours with depth and balance for a minute now. Under the radar.

Graft Cidery - Mountains & Valleys - Sour Gose Cider - 6.9%
“A light amaro inspired gose cider with barberry root, sweet woodruff, lemon zest and sea salt.”
Take: Consider: Amaro is good

Great Raft Brewing - Oceans Between Us™ (Batch 004) - Brett IPA – 7%
“100% Brettanomyces IPA from our Belgian program showcasing an elusive variety of Southern Hemisphere hop called “Nelson Sauvin.” Nelson Sauvin throws nice layers of fruit and white wine qualities that really shine atop fresh and fruity Brettanomyces.”
Take: Nelson is a great hop. Don't @ me.

Ocelot – Superfly - Brett Saison - 4.4%
“This is a wild Saison that was fermented with a strain of yeast isolated somewhere in upstate New York by our yeast man. It is soft and slightly funky with a fruit forward nose.”
Take: From the people who make those really good IPAs. I'm curious.

Oliver Brewing Company - Barrel Aged Tuppence - Brett Old World Porter – 6%
“Collaboration w/ Stillwater to create this Brett fermented Old World style Porter.”
Take: Taste history.

Port City - Colossal 5 - English-Style Old Ale - 9.8%
“Barrel Aged 2015 vintage Old Ale with Brettanomyces”
Take: Taste more history.

Mike Stein

2SP - Brett Pils - Brett Kellerpils – 5%
“German style kellerbier bottle conditioned with Brett claussenii”

Allagash – Avance - BA Mixed Fermentation Fruited Quad - 10.4%
“Our good old quad aged in oak bourbon barrels for a year on lacto and pedio. THEN transfer to stainless and add local strawberries where it sits on them another 6 months. Layered complex. One of our more puckering wild beers.”

Black Narrows Brewing - Spontaneous Ale - 4.9%
“There's nothing these oysters can't do! This beer is fermented entirely with the mixture of natural microflora residing on Chincoteague Oysters. Crisp, lightly funky, with a white-wine like acidity, and soft floral notes from an addition of seaside goldenrod.”
Take: When else will you get to try this?

Bluejacket - Kelsey & Greg's Wedding Ale 2017 - Sour Blond Ale with Peaches & Apricots - 4.5%
“The third release of Kelsey & Greg's Wedding Ale is once again a bright and refreshing sour blond ale, but this year's edition has been aged on peaches and apricots, at a rate of three pounds/ gallon.”
Take: A tasty iteration this year.

Denizens - The Gruit Made Me Do it – Gruit - 6.5%
“This sour gruit ale was fermented with a brettanomyces and lactobacillus blend lending a tartness throughout and pineapple-esque aromatic that complements the rosemary and sage. Made in collaboration with Pizzeria Paradiso Company, this beer's dynamic malt backbone, acidity, and herbacious aromatics will complement their savory and rustic pizzas.”

Gordon Biersch - Flanders Red - 6.1%
“Tons of black cherry, dark and milk chocolate, vinous, peach - slightly herbal and creamy.”

Graft Cidery/Charm City Meadworks - Shared Universe: Hivemind Collab with Charm City Meadworks - Hopped Mochi Cyser - 6.9%
“Creamy and lemony hopped mochi cyser (cider & mead) with matcha, citra hops, milk sugar & lemongrass”

Great Raft Brewing - You, Me & Everyone We Know™ (Batch 004) - Fruited Sour Ale - 6.5%
“Foeder fermented golden ale aged on pluot fruit for two months. The pluot is a hybrid stonefruit, made by cross breeding apricots and plums. The result is a beautiful, rose-colored sour with a depth of sweetness and layered acidity.”

Great Raft Brewing - Oceans Between Us™ (Batch 004) - Brett IPA – 7%
“100% Brettanomyces IPA from our Belgian program showcasing an elusive variety of Southern Hemisphere hop called “Nelson Sauvin.” Nelson Sauvin throws nice layers of fruit and white wine qualities that really shine atop fresh and fruity Brettanomyces.”

Union Craft Brewing - Old Pro Tee Time Tangerine - Gose infused with botanicals and natural flavors - 4.2%
“A New Spin on an Old Classic: We’ve taken our Old Pro Gose and upped the refreshment with an infusion of house-blended “teas” made from botanicals and natural fruit flavors.”

Greg Parnas

2SP - Brett Pils - Brett Kellerpils – 5%
“German style kellerbier bottle conditioned with Brett claussenii”
Take: If this is like a Brett Lagerfarm (from Bluejacket), I'll be all over it.

3 Stars - Get the Funk Out of Here - Barrel Fermented Sour Ale - 7.3%
“Mixed fermentation blended sour ale in French Oak with a mix of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus.”
Take: Puns and funk?!

Allagash - Little Brett - Mosaic Dry-hopped Brett Ale - 4.6%
“Our dry-hopped (Mosaic) all-Brett beer aged in stainless. Tons of grapefruit and pineapple notes. Notes of bread crust. Second year that we've done a limited release in late summer.”
Take: Table beer needs to be more of a thing

Black Flag - Barrel Aged Belgie w/ Belgian Bacteria Blend - Sour Saison - 6.8%
“Our core saison Belgie has been aged in a second use bourbon barrel (previously containing our 11.4% coffee breakfast stout) and aged for 6 months with Belgian Bacteria blend.”
Take: really liked Black Flag when I visited

Brewer's Art - Zombie Buffalo – Barrel-aged Brown Ale – 7%
“Resurrection that has seen some time in old and funky Buffalo Trace barrels.”
Take: Brown ales are life.

Crooked Stave Artisan Beer Project – Origins - Burgundy Sour Ale – 5%
“Burgundy Sour Ale Aged in Oak Barrels”

Denizens - Backyard Boogie - Barrel-aged Farmhouse inspired ale – 7%
“This beer was fermented with saison yeast, brettanomyces and lactobacillus in the primary fermentation. It was then aged in chardonnay barrels for 6 months where some barrels were pitched with pediococcus. After 6 months we blended the batch back to taste. Backyard boogie has a blend of fruity esters and spicy phenolics produced by the yeast and brettanomyces, which balanced by the acidity produced by the bacteria, and rounded out by oak wood character. Finishes light and refreshing.”

Denizens - The Gruit Made Me Do it – Gruit - 6.5%
“This sour gruit ale was fermented with a brettanomyces and lactobacillus blend lending a tartness throughout and pineapple-esque aromatic that complements the rosemary and sage. Made in collaboration with Pizzeria Paradiso Company, this beer's dynamic malt backbone, acidity, and herbacious aromatics will complement their savory and rustic pizzas.”
Take: Holy shit, there’s a gruit.

Franklins Brewery – Outaspace - Barrel Aged Brett Sour – 7%      
“Barrel aged sour with B. Brux”

Free Will – Wildhack - Barrel Aged Sour Brown w/Blueberries - 7.4%
“A carefully crafted collaborative blend with William Reed (Johnny Brenda’s & Standard Tap), comprised of 2+ year foudre aged Flemish Red, 2-year blueberry sour, and a rum barrel aged red saison. Aromas of blueberries, dark bread, sherry and port, with deeply complex sour flavors of dark berries, candied plums, currants and musty oak. A multidimensional sour benefited by the extended aging process.”
Take: All the barrels.

Free Will - Sidro Invecchiato - Foudre Fermented Farmhouse Cider - 5.5%
“Foudre fermented and aged farmhouse cider, that is served still (not carbonated), and is more of a Basque-style cider. Tart, refreshing, and pairs well with food.”
Take: A foudre cider seems like the unique pick here.

Graft Cidery - Mountains & Valleys - Sour Gose Cider - 6.9%
“A light amaro inspired gose cider with barberry root, sweet woodruff, lemon zest and sea salt.”

Ocelot – Superfly - Brett Saison - 4.4%
“This is a wild Saison that was fermented with a strain of yeast isolated somewhere in upstate New York by our yeast man. It is soft and slightly funky with a fruit forward nose.”
Take: Adrian is my beer-ro.

Upland Brewing - Upland Hopsynth - Barrel Aged Dry Hopped Sour – 6%
“We love hops, and we love sour ales, so our inventive brewers found a way to combine two of our favorite things. By dry hopping our blonde sour ale Basis, we developed Hopsynth as a well-melded, lighter, hoppier sour ale with full hop aromas and flavors. Huge wafts of piney, tropical and citrus hop aromas come from the glass. A touch of tartness complements the grassy and grapefruit hop flavors of El Dorado and Citra hops. It finishes dry with a bright hop flavor that stays with you.”

Upland Brewing - Upland Iridescent - Barrel-Aged Fruited Sour with Apricot and Ginger – 6%
“This beer was developed through extensive experimentation by our brewers with different combinations of dried fruits and spices, using Basis as the base beer. Iridescent is a refreshing blonde sour ale, with aromas of apricot and ginger that are followed by tart and tropical flavors after aging in wine barrels for 3-4 months. As the name implies, the flavor of this sour beer appears to change subtly with each sip.”

Waredaca - 3-2-1 Tart Cherry Gose – Gose - 4.2%
“This kettle soured ale is our take on a classic gose. Slightly tart with a touch of salt. This beer is finished with 75 lbs of Tart Cherries, which adds to the tartness of this beer.”

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