Saturday, July 30, 2011

German Session Lager Tasting

On a muggy summer evening there aren't many beers that are more refreshing than a cold low-alcohol lager.  The clean yeast character (lacking the fruitness of an ale) makes lagers easier to drink in quantity and means they don't lose as much from a sub-40 F serving temperature.   Apparently my batch of second runnings session lager was too refreshing; we went through it in just three weeks, way faster than I was expecting. 

The wort for this beer came from the same mash as the English barleywine that we brewed for the anniversary of DC Homebrewers.  So it was ironic that the keg kicked while I was trying to fill a growler for the July "session beers" meeting (luckily I still had enough to fill a bomber).  Luckily I've still got a few gallons of Czech Pils on tap to get me through the rest of summer.

Goblet of German Session Lager.Hallertau Session Lager

Appearance – Slightly hazy, pale yellow body that supports dense white foam. It had been brilliantly clear, but this was the end of the keg (I'd neglected taking a picture until after it kicked),

Smell – Herbal hops and toasty malts, very clean (no diacetyl or sulfur).  The aroma is restrained at first, but grows bolder as the beer warms.

Taste – Has a firm minerally hop bitterness, that is crisp and clean. Nice classic noble hop flavor balanced with the bready malt, although it doesn't have the sweetness that you'd associate with the malt profile.  Despite the complaints I've heard about the dried lager yeast I used, S-23, the fermentation character is really clean (I don't get any of the fruitiness that other homebrewers report).

Mouthfeel – Certainly thin, but not harsh or grating. Medium-high carbonation adds to the spritzy refreshing overall feel (almost like some seltzer water was mixed into a standard lager). I always think that second runnings beers are a bit lighter than their OG/FG suggests, but I'd love to do an experiment to see if there really is a difference.

Drinkability & Notes – Really great hot weather beer, super drinkable, but not lacking character.  This is the sort of beer that might convert a macro-drinker (although the bitterness might stop some people).  I really should brew lagers more often.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Golden American Wheat Recipe

Recirulating the wort to clear it.One the aspects of  brewing a batch of beer with someone else that I enjoy most is that it forces me to take a step back from my usual brew day habits and routine.  For my first few years of brewing this was especially true when I got to brew with another experienced homebrewer, getting to see a different process and hear someone else's take on ingredients and techniques.  Now that I'm pretty happy with my process, I like brewing with someone who isn't a homebrewer because it forces me to take a look at my processes and the choices that I take for granted.

When she is in town, my girlfriend Audrey often lends a hand with whatever I am brewing, but a couple of times a year I give her control over the recipe design and brewing process.  It gives her a chance to brew something she wants, and gets me to brew a recipe I wouldn't have otherwise.  In years past we have collaborated on a Lemon-Pepper Single, and a Belgian Amber both of which turned out well.

Audrey scooping foam to prevent a boil-over.This year she wanted to brew a non-Belgian, something sessionable, but that could still take a few months of aging (since she'll take a case back with her to grad school in the fall).  To improve the aging potential I advised against brewing a beer with a prominent American hops character (I think there are few flavors worse than oxidized citrusy hops, I'm looking at you year-old Sierra Nevada Bigfoot).  With a recently purchased sack of wheat malt to be opened she decided an American wheat beer with a bit of color would be a good direction to go in.  After the Belgian Amber ended up more brown than amber we made sure not to add too much chocolate malt to this recipe.  The rest of the specialty malt additions were comprised of biscuit (for added bready maltiness - a malt I rarely use) and C20 (for some sweetness).  She decided on the slightly earthy qualities of Willamette for hopping, a variety that I think ages gracefully compared to the C-hops.

There wasn't anything too exciting or tricky about the process for this batch, but sometimes simplicity is all that is called for.  Fermentation is already complete, but before bottling comes my favorite part of brewing with someone else... having them help de-label bottles.

Aerated and pitched wort, ready for fermentation.Audrey's Golden Wheat

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 4.75
Total Grain (Lbs): 9.95
Anticipated OG: 1.054
Anticipated SRM: 10.1
Anticipated IBU: 29.7
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70 %
Wort Boil Time: 75 Minutes

50.3% - 5.00 lbs. German Wheat Malt
40.2% - 4.00 lbs. American Pale "2-row" Malt
5.0% - 0.50 lbs. Biscuit Malt
3.8% - 0.38 lbs. Belgian Caramel 20
0.7% - 0.07 lbs. American Chocolate Malt

1.00 oz. - Willamette (Pellet, 4.60% AA) @ 60 min.
1.00 oz. - Willamette (Pellet, 4.60% AA) @ 15 min.

Safale US-05 Chico

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest - 60 min @ 154 F
Mash Out - 15 min @ 168 F

7/16/11 Brewed with Audrey

Collected 6.75 gallons of 1.038 runnings with a batch sparge.

Left out the whirlfloc and yeast nutrient.

Chilled to 65 F and pitched with 1 rehydrated (85 F for 15 min) pack of US-05. Shook for 5 minutes to aerate. Left at 65 ambient to ferment.

Good fermentation after 18 hours.

7/24/11 Fermentation appears to be mostly complete.

8/7/11 Bottled, down to 1.012. Added 3.5 oz of cane sugar to the 4.38 gallons of beer we yielded. Aiming for 2.5 volumes of CO2.

9/23/11 Solid beer, but not great.  The Willamette lent a spicy hop character that I'm not enamored with, not to say it is a bad beer, just one that I don't love.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Homebrewed Czech Pilsner vs. Urquell

I'll admit it, brewing great pale lagers requires an almost completely different skill set than sour beers.  I'm not saying that one is harder than the other, just that you have to focus on different parts of the process and use different parts of your brain.  Sour beers are all about creativity and instinct, the best brewers are rarely technical masters, they have great palates and learn by experimenting.  Conversely to brew great pale lagers the keys are in the details; the best brewers tend to be meticulous and strive for control over every aspect of their process. 

For this attempt at a Czech Pilsner I tried to use the most traditional ingredients and techniques to get the same flavors that the Czech brewers do.  While overall I was happy with the way brewing and fermentation went, this was only my second try at putting it all together and it will take a few more attempts to dial this process in.

The yeast I used (WY2001) is know for leaving some diacetyl (and it didn't dissapoint), but the odd thing was that this batch didn't taste buttery at all after a week held warm between 10 days of cool fermentation and two months of cold lagering. There are only a handful of styles for which the BJCP considers above threshold  diacetyl to be acceptable, and luckily Bohemian Pilsner is one of them.  While not a requirement, a low level of diacteyl adds fullness to the mouthfeel, and complexity to the malt.  The real question is, what is the "right" amount?  For me this beer is slightly more buttery than I wanted, but I tend to be more sensitive than most. 

I'm debating whether to add a Saaz hop tea for a more noticeable spicy hop aroma, which would also contribute obfuscation for the diacetyl.  My conern is that a hop tea could mar the beautifully clear golden body that fining with gelatin provided.  Clarity isn't something I normally concern myself with, but this one is destined for competition in just three weeks.

Bohemian Lager

Two very similar looking Pilsners, mine is on the right.Appearance – Pours with a one-finger creamy white head (which lasts longer and leaves better lacing than the bottle of Urquell). The body is golden/yellow, maybe a half-shade lighter.  My beer is very clear, but compared to the real deal it isn't as brilliant.

Smell – Fresh bread, some herbal complexity, and a touch of butterscotch (nowhere near artificial butter popcorn). The hop aroma could be a bit more assertive, but it is nice to really smell that decocted Pilsner malt profile that took so much effort. The original is a bit past its prime and has an aroma that is mostly cardboard (the sale at the supermarket should have been a tip-off).  As the glass of Urquell warmed up I got a bit of diacetyl, but only about 50% of what mine had.

Taste – Smooth and rounded despite the high level of IBUs, thanks to the low mineral water. The crisp Pilsner malt comes through in the middle, not as strong as it was in the aroma. The diacetyl is in the finish, slightly stronger than I'd prefer, but not over the top.  There is a lingering malty sweetness, not quite as dry as Urquell (despite finishing at 1.012 just below the low end of the guidelines for FG).

Mouthfeel – Not as much carbonation and a bit fuller than the original (which could be the diacetyl), but it still needs a bit more time for the force carbonation to work.

Drinkability & Notes – When you put as much time and thought into a beer as I did for this one it is hard to be totally satisfied with the results, but I can't say I'm disappointed either. I'd guess that the diacetyl will standout too much in the competition, but I don't think its worth screwing with at this point. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Drying Hops at Home

Growing hops isn’t for everyone because it requires outdoor space and the time to tend and harvest the crop, all this to make what you could buy for a couple dollars. However, growing hops does provides a couple of unique opportunities that you can’t get out of a Mylar bag.

Last year I used the first crop of my DC hops to brew a wet hopped ale, harvesting the hops off the bines during the mash and adding them to the boil without drying. Removing the water from any herb (including hops) changes the flavor, reducing the fresh grassy flavor and giving it a more straight forward flavor.  Hopunion does sell wet hops through homebrew stores for $20+/lb (but a pound is barely enough to brew one batch and the system still means there will be a few days between harvest, shipping, and brewing).

Even if you don’t want to use wet hops, drying your own has its own advantages. With home dried hops you know their entire history and can treat them gently from bine to kettle (no pesticides, shipping, industrial processing etc…). Going through every step of the process also allows you to learn what freshly dried hops smell like, giving you the experience to better judge the freshness of the hops you buy.

As I said, drying hops chases away some of their complexity, but how you dry them will determine the amount of aromatics lost.  To dry hops commercial hop processors use a heated air circulator called an oast.  While it is possible to build a small oast at home (The Homebrewer’s Garden has a diagram) it isn't worth it for only a couple pounds of hops. Using a food dehydrator would yield similar results.  The main issue with this method is that too much heat will cook the hops driving off their fresh aromatics completely (and even with the “right” amount you lose some of the more volatile molecules). 

Luckily there are several other methods available for homebrewers who want to dry their hops. The most common is to lay the hops on a metal window screen in a cool, dark, dry spot and allow a week for them to dry naturally. This can work well, but not everyone has the space to lay out screens of hops for a week. There is also some concern about the safety of window screens since they aren’t rated for food safety, not to mention the dust that can settle on the hops as they dry.

The speediest method for a small amount of hops is to use a microwave. Place the freshly picked hops in a plastic colander and microwave at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until the hops are mostly dry (they will continue drying for a few minutes after they are taken out). This technique worked well for me when I tried it a few years ago, while the dried hops had an odd seaside-brine aroma the beer I added them to tasted and smelled fine. That said, you are still heating the hops so delicate aromatics are being driven off and it is easy to overdo the drying since it goes so quickly.

Not entirely satisfied with any of these methods I wanted to try a rig I saw used on an episode of Good Eats to dry herbs. I picked about a gallon of hops and placed two layers between three furnace air filters (for safety avoid buying anything made of fiberglass).  I tried to keep the hops in a roughly single layer to ensure even drying.  When you stack them up make sure that all of the filters are facing with the airflow indicators pointing the same direction as the fan. Strap your hop sandwich to the front of a box fan using two bungee cords. You could probably get away with adding another filter and a third layer of hops, but if you try that I’d suggest shuffling the layers after 12 hours so they all dry at the same rate. Point the fan out a window and turn it on high, after about 24 hours your hops will be completely dry and ready to use (or vacuum seal and freeze for later).  I have been told that letting them dry too long can blow the lupulin off the hops, but I didn't have an issue.

I won’t be sure how well the fan drying method worked until I try the hops out in a beer, but I’m hoping that the low amount of heat and time from harvesting to drying to freezing will maximize their fresh aromatic character (they certainly smelled good when I bagged them up). The two plants should be ready for another harvest in a few weeks, before then I’ll pick up two slightly longer bungee cords that won’t hold the filters quite as hard.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Farmhouse Table Saison Tasting

Right now on tap in my kegerator there are two second runnings beers that couldn't be more disparate (other than their color, strength, and noble hopping...). This small Brett Saison was planned right along side the Calvados Tripel that came from the same mash. The Hoppy Lager force carbing next to it was a spur of the moment decision tossed together after collecting enough wort for the DC Homebrewers Anniversary Barleywine.

I intended this saison to be my interpretation of historic style: light, refreshing, mildly funky, a real summer farmhouse beer. So what better time to write up a review than a hot mid-July evening?

Farmhouse Table Saison in an old chair my grandfather fixed.Farmhouse Table Saison

Appearance – Pours with a voluminous billowy white head. The bubbles exhibits terrific retention leaving a ring of sticky lacing around the glass. The body is yellow and hazy (luckily poor clarity isn't off-putting in a saison to me).

Smell – Asprin-y Brett, peppery yeast, and overripe fruits. Complex, with the Brett slightly more assertive than I'd prefer, playing a primary rather than supporting role in the aroma.

Taste – The flavor is more classically saison than the aroma, dry-ish with a mild bitterness on the back of the tongue. The funk is subdued, complementing the spicy phenols provided by the Dupont strain. The fruit notes are tropical: mango and maybe a touch of pineapple.

Mouthfeel – Medium-light body with firm carbonation. Could be a touch lighter and crisper, the attenuation wasn't quite as high as I was aiming for.

Drinkability & Notes – Overall I'm happy with the way this beer turned out, especially for being second runnings. When I brew something like this again I won't do it as a second runnings beer unless I can mash at a lower temperature (high-140s F) to leave less fermentables for the Brett.

I'm considering adding some keg hops to what is left of the beer because I've caught the hop bug and won't have a chance to brew something to satisfy it for a few more weeks. Not sure exactly what variety I'll use, maybe an ounce of the Summer Saaz I picked up mail order from Australia a few weeks back.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Belgian Single Recipe (with Brett)

The right strip is before pH adjustment, the left is after.Despite the reputation I've gained over the years for brewing big/weird/sour beers sometimes I need to brew a simple batch so I have beer on hand to drink that I'm not trying to age.  In this case I had the additional motivation building up enough yeast for my 10 gallon share of the pale braggot that will be going into one of our wine barrels next month.  Two years ago I brewed a simple Extract Single that turned out crisp and satisfying, so I decided to adapt it into an all-grain recipe.  I lowered the original gravity slightly to better suit the warm weather, but my efficiency was higher than expected so I ended up leaving out the .75 lbs of table sugar I had earmarked for the boil.

The better than expected efficiency may have been due in part to my more aggressive than usual water treatment.  I added phosphoric acid and a small amount of calcium chloride to reduce the mash pH.  Luckily my water is well suited for most gold-brown colored beers, so I usually only need to adjust the pH for very light or dark beers.  I should probably get a pH meter that would take readings faster and more accurately than the Color pHast strips I've been using (I'm also interested in taking readings of my finished sour beers, which are below the 4.0-7.0 range of the pH strips).

The wort boiling in my garage brewery.I had to move this beer along rather quickly into bottles because I needed the yeast cake and didn't have any empty secondary fermentors, but I wanted to try adding Brett to a portion of the batch...  Against my better judgement (waiting for a funky beer to ferment out completely before bottling) I decided to add Brett to two six-packs at bottling.  After filling all of the bottles, and capping most of them, I put one bottling wand full of Brettanyomyces bruxellensis starter into each of the remaining bottles before capping. 

My worry is that it doesn't take much additional attenuation to over-carbonate a beer (the fermentation of just .002-.003 is enough for full carbonation) so I am expecting this portion of the batch to eventually reach an explosive level.  Ideally I should have used thicker bottles (as Orval does), but with standard 12 ounce bottles I'll be sampling the beer frequently and moving it to the fridge when the carbonation level becomes concerning.

The addition of Brett B going into one of the slightly under-filled bottles.
Summer in Brussels

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.00
Total Grain (Lbs): 7.00
Anticipated OG: 1.048
Anticipated SRM: 2.6
Anticipated IBU: 24.2
Brewhouse Efficiency: 90 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

100.0% - 7.00 lbs. German Pilsener

0.75 oz. Hallertauer Tradition (Pellet, 6.00% AA) @ 60 min.
0.50 oz. Hallertauer Tradition (Pellet, 6.00% AA) @ 5 min.
0.50 oz. Styrian Goldings (Pellet, 5.25% AA) @ 5 min.

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.25 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

WYeast 1214 Belgian Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Protein Rest 15 min @ 127
Sacch Rest 50 min @ 148 (Infuse)
Sacch II 10 @ 155 (Infuse)
Mash Out 5 min @ 166 (Infuse)

1 qrt starter made 6/25/11

Brewed 6/26/11 by myself

Added 2 g of CaCl and 3/4 tsp of phosphoric acid to the mash.

Batch sparged with water with 1 g CaCl and 3/4 tsp phosphoric acid.

Chilled to 68 F, pitched the starter which was just starting to show activity. Left at 65 F ambient to start fermenting in a bucket.

7/10/11 Bottled the 4.5 gallons with 3.5 oz of table sugar.  FG 1.010 (79% AA, 5% ABV). Added 1 bottling want worth of Brett B starter to 12 of the bottles, will be interested to see how much time it takes for them to show that character.  Left ~78 F to carbonate.

8/11/11 At one month in the bottle I was able to differentiate the two versions of the beer, but I was not able to pick which one had Brett.

5/7/12 The Brett'd version scored a 39.5 at NHC as a Belgian Specialty. Placed 2nd out of 55 beers. Snippets of the judges' notes.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Styrian Golding Best Bitter Tasting

I slacked off a bit too much on writing up a review for the best bitter I brewed with all Styrian Goldings, it kicked Monday soon after the start of a 4th of our July BBQ.  Luckily right before it ran out I'd just poured myself a half pint, and had a chance to jot down a few notes and snap a picture.

Styrian Golding Best Bitter

Didn't notice the hop vines through the glass when I took the picture.Appearance – It took a few weeks in the kegerator, but this pale-golden beer cleared up beautifully. The stable sticky white head looks great.

Smell – The Styrian Goldings control the aroma with their earthy-fruity slightly funky aroma. There is some breadcrust malt, and a bit of yeasty fruit as well. The aroma is hoppier than most English versions of the style, although that is from someone who has never had one on cask in England (I assume they lose quite a bit of that fresh aroma in transit).

Taste – It is bitter, but not as much as the 50 IBUs would suggest thanks to the London ESB strain. The hop character comes through less in the flavor than it did in the nose, which allows the rest of the flavors to shine (a saltine cracker toastiness as well as some faint pear from the yeast).

Mouthfeel – Medium-light body with medium carbonation. This one would have been great on cask, which would have made it a bit smoother compared to under CO2.

Drinkability & Notes – One of the best English style beers I've brewed.  It isn't bold or innovative, but it is one of those beers that everyone seems to enjoy (which probably explains why it was finished so quickly).  I think when I brew it again I'll blend in some East Kent Goldings to mellow the Styrians.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red Wine Yeast Flemish Ale

BM45 red wine yeast and ECY02 Flemish Ale.I have a backlog of brewing ideas waiting to be tried out (to put it lightly).  It takes a lot of time for some of them to bubble-up to the surface for brewing (and some never make it).  For the last six months (ever since I listened to the Shea Comfort interview on the Sunday Session) I've been wanting to use wine yeast to ferment a beer; more specifically BM45 (a red wine strain known for imparting jam and berry-like aromatics) as the primary fermenter in a Flemish Red.

It took some time for me to get around to ordering the dried yeast (it wasn't available locally), but everything came together perfectly when my friend Alex passed off a second generation East Coast Yeast Flemish Ale slurry.  The recipe itself was pretty similar to a few Reds I'd brewed in the past, but instead of my standard 1:1:1 blend of Pils, Vienna, and Munich I dropped the Pils and made up for it with more Munich and Vienna.  The gravity was a bit higher than anticipated, but this should only bolster the winey character.

Racking the Flemish Red wort to the fermenter.I did make a misjudgment in my process... maybe.  I had read that BM45 is a really slow starter, including a report of three days with no activity before it took off in a beer.  Despite knowing this I pitched the rehydrated wine and ECY02 simultaneously.  By the next morning the fermentation was raging, almost certainly the ale yeast in the blend.  Luckily BM45 is a "killer" strain (that is it produces a factor that kills many other yeast strains within hours) so once it got going it should have taken care of the ale yeast (almost all strains of which are susceptible, according to Shea).  Luckily the killer ability does not extend to the other important yeast involved in the ferment, Brettanomyces.

When I racked the beer to secondary the mouthfeel of the sample I pulled had a coating viscosity.  At first I was suspicious that it was the Pedio getting "sick," but the description of BM45 says "produces high levels of polysaccharides resulting in wines with great mouthfeel and improved color stability."   I'll be interested to see whether or not that fullness survives the Brett and into the finished beer (I'm betting not).  I'm still debating adding either wine soaked oak to reinforce the vinous character or plain oak to allow me to tell exactly what the BM45 brings.  Either way I'll have some red wine on hand in 18 months when I bottle to add if the flavor needs a boost.

Wine Yeast Flemish Red

Recipe Specifics
Batch Size (Gal): 5.25
Total Grain (Lbs): 12.50
Anticipated OG: 1.068
Anticipated SRM: 17.6
Anticipated IBU: 16.0
Brewhouse Efficiency: 78 %
Wort Boil Time: 90 Minutes

40.0% - 5.00 lbs. German Munich Malt
40.0% - 5.00 lbs. German Vienna Malt
8.0% - 1.00 lbs. CaraMunich Malt
4.0% -  0.50 lbs. Flaked Corn (Maize)
4.0% - 0.50 lbs. Flaked Soft White Wheat
4.0% - 0.50 lbs. Special B Malt

0.50 oz. Sorachi Ace (Pellet, 9.00% AA) @ 60 min.

0.50 Whirlfloc @ 15 min.
0.50 tsp Yeast Nutrient @ 15 min.

Lallemand BM45 Brunello
ECY02 Flemish Ale

Water Profile
Profile: Washington DC

Mash Schedule
Sacch Rest -  60 min @ 158

Brewed 6/12/11

Fly sparged to collect 7 gallons of 1.054 wort.

Chilled to 68 F. Pitched 1 pint of ECY02 Flemish Red and 8 g of BM45 (rehydrated), shook to aerate.

Fermentation started strong in 12 hours. Temp around 70 for the first 36 hours, then the ambient temp was up in the mid 70s for the rest of primary fermentation.

7/3/11 Racked to a five gallon better bottle for long aging.  Since last week the ambient temp has been 65 F thanks to my new A/C unit. Gravity down to ~1.020, some light sourness already as well as a really viscous mouthfeel, not sure if the beer is getting sick or if it is just the BM45.

5/8/13 Bottled with rehydrated Champagne yeast and 3 oz of table sugar. FG 1.012, 82.4% AA, 7.4% ABV

9/23/14 This batch fought long and hard to come around. Wish I'd posted a set of notes during it's rubbery-yeasty phase, but I waited until it came around, which took almost a year and a half in the bottle!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Which American brewery produces the best sour beers?

Russian River, Captain Lawrence, and Raccoon LodgeRussian River - 43%
Jolly Pumpkin - 21%
Cascade - 8%
New Belgium - 4%
New Glarus - 4%
Lost Abbey - 3%
Allagash - 2%
Avery - 1%
Bruery - 1%
Ithaca - 1%
Captain Lawrence - 1%
Goose Island - .8%
Cambridge - .8%
Tröegs -  .6%
Other - 2%

423 Votes

I've got to say that the results to this poll were surprising.  I was expecting Russian River (my favorite) to win, but getting as many votes as numbers 2-5 combined?  Damn.  I think their sours not only tend to be the most consistent but also their best beat anyone else's.  What is their secret? In my opinion: control, time, and blending.  They go to great lengths to control the timing and amount of microbes each beer receives, killing most of the resident microbes in the barrels between each beer (150-160 F pressure wash).  After a clean primary fermentation they remove the yeast and pitch about 1,000,000 cells of Brett per ml (according to Vinnie the 100,000 cell noted in Yeast was incorrect) followed a few weeks/months later with their house lactic acid bacteria culture (amount varies).  They age their beers longer in barrels than many other American producers, using a temperature (62 F) and humidity controlled warehouse to minimize seasonal variation.  Tasting and dumping "off" barrels before blending using acid beer (Sonambic) and Brett positive beer (Sanctification) as needed to dial in exactly the balance they want for the particular beer.  Sadly a lot of these methods are difficult to implement at home, but they are clearly worth considering.

I was surprised to see Jolly Pumpkin and Cascade so high, and Lost Abbey so low on the list.  I'd guess distribution plays a big roll in JP's 2nd place, while some of their batches are remarkable, due to less control (they rely on wild microbes that have colonized their barrels) and time spent in the barrels they have more variation (not that this is necessarily a bad thing since they pleasantly surprise me sometimes).  Cascade certainly makes some really unique sour beers missing that lack a funk character (they only use a house culture of Lactobacillus) so I can see that their beers might really appeal in particular to Brett sensitive people.  Is Lost Abbey having a quality control/image problem?  I think their "on" batches have been right up there with some of the best American sours (they certainly get stellar ratings on RB/BA), but they have put out some clunkers (not to mention their carbonation and customer service issues).

The rest fell about where I expected, for the most part I suspect the issue is limited production/distribution.  I've heard that The Bruery, Captain Lawrence, and New Belgium are all stepping up sour beer production significantly in the next year or two, so hopefully American sour beers will become a more frequent sight at the local beer store.

Who did I miss for those with "Other" votes? Upland? Trinity? Iron Hill? Alpine? Freetail?