Sunday, January 10, 2021

Beard Science sets up Sour House in The Colony

They're serving all sour beers all the time at Beard Science (All images © Brian Brown/Beer in Big D).

We may be a week into the new year, but it turns out 2020 has one last surprise in store for local beer drinkers. It's a good surprise, mind you, involving a veteran brewer and a brand new brewery called Beard Science Sour House at Truck Yard in The Colony.

To begin with, Beard Science opened quietly in mid-December. It's the second of three brewing concepts developed by Brain Storm Shelter, the parent company behind Truck Yard, Twisted Root Burger Co., and By the Horns Brewing.

The kicker, however, is former Franconia Brewing Co. founder Dennis Wehrmann mans the mash paddle at Beard Science. Wehrmann parted ways with Franconia in 2020, moving on to join Brain Storm Shelter, a group he advised early on when a brewery project was first considered in 2017.  Now, the new partnership will extend to Second Rodeo Brewing, currently under construction at the Fort Worth Stockyards.

But wait, there's more. As its full name implies, Beard Science deals exclusively in wild and sour beers. Once production ramps up, 16 wild and sour brews will be on tap with not a single clean beer on the board. Not only that, the venture has Wehrmann taking a break from his historically well-known adherence to the Reinheitsgebot (a.k.a. the German beer purity law).

So, show of hands, who had Dennis Wehrmann brewing tart and funky beers with ingredients like Greek yogurt, pickles and watermelon on their 2020 craft beer bingo card? 

In addition to community and high-top tables inside, seating options also exist on a catwalk-like patio outside.

It's a new direction, but in Wehrmann's view it's simply a matter of mindset and recognizing a non-traditional approach is necessary to make non-traditional beer.

"We're making beer, but not in the way that goes back to my deep, traditional roots," explains Wehrmann. "So, for that reason, I decided to put a cover over the purity law and look at it as an alcoholic beverage with an open book. It's a lot of fun and I can do some crazy stuff with it."

In line with that thinking, Wehrmann calls the setup at Beard Science his playground. He's brewing on a 10-barrel system, the smallest brewhouse he's ever used in his career. Five-barrel stainless steel fermenters are on hand for split batches, and wood-aged beers will emerge from foeders and whiskey barrels.

"We want to cover three different routes," says Wehrmann. "We'll have a range with the Berliner weisse/kettle sour as a base [for different treatments]. Then we'll do some funky stuff with mixed cultures in the foeders, and some barrel aging."

Wood foeders will contain mixed culture fermentations at Beard Science, while a cellar wall will store bottle-conditioned brews.

Additional elements of Beard Science's master plan include the development of house cultures, with Wehrmann looking to forage in the local woods for components. There's even a cellar wall on the premises, where the brewery intends to curate a stock of vintage bottle-conditioned brews.

As for what's on tap to start, five beers are pouring at Beard Science. The Berliner weisse base (3.5% ABV) sets the stage for an "extra sour" variant, along with versions brewed with woodruff flowers (floral, sweet and sour) and blood oranges (citrusy, tart and bitter). There's also my favorite initial offering, a Belgian Dark Sour (6.8% ABV) whose tartness is balanced by dark fruit flavors of raisins and plums.

Beyond that, fans of Wehrmann's approach to traditional styles shouldn't fret, as beers of this nature will be the focus at Second Rodeo later this year. There, beers will undergo a secondary lagering process by way of horizontal lagering tanks Wehrmann has procured.

"The Fort Worth brewery is coming along great," reveals Wehrmann. "We're probably going to move equipment in around the middle of February, and then hopefully start brewing within two months after that."

If you're a sour head, though, you'll want to go ahead and check out the new Beard Science Sour House during taproom hours on Wednesday-Sunday, from 11 a.m. to midnight.

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