This is one of a series of books about Belgian beer that takes a look at style that seems to have survived from the past. Wild brews is a discussion of beers that are fermented with wild yeasts and with (gasp!) bacteria.
Most beer lovers have had an encounter with these beers: they are shocking, original and-to our tastes-most unbeerlike. They tend to be either distinctly sour or sweet and sour. Their effect in the mouth is thirst-quenching in the manner of a tart lemonade and they are often surprisingly aromatic.
Jeff Sparrow has provided an introduction to the history and brewing techniques of these beers that seems to grow out of a deep knowledge of the biochemistry involved and a major involvement in the Belgian brewing community. As a beer-lover, I find this book to be a revelation and it has led me back to some beers that I haven't tasted in years. As a brewer, it scares the daylights out of me. Letting organisms like pediococcus and brettanomyces loose in your brewhouse or kitchen is risky. Outcomes with these organisms are always uncertain and aging can involve super-attenuation and unusual mouth-feel. However. The wild beer tradition is one of blending, and I can't help but think that a growler of my farmhouse ale could stand to be cut with a bottle of, let's say a lambic. Hmmm.
Lynn Hoffman, author of bang BANGBang Bang
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