American Wild Ale

Hey beer friend! American Wild Ales are a unique type of sour beer originally inspired by the wild fermentation traditions of Belgium. These beers are fermented with wild yeast strains like Brettanomyces, which gives them funky, earthy flavors.

The sourness comes from bacteria that kickstart a fermentation that makes the beer tart and crisp.

American brewers have put their own spin on this old-world style, often aging the beers in wine or whiskey barrels to pick up woody, oaky notes. Fruits and spices are also commonly added, making each wild ale a colorful experiment. The flavors can get quite complex with hints of leather, barnyard, citrus and more.

Overall, American Wild Ales are all about exploring new territory when it comes to spontaneous fermentation. They tend to be dry and effervescent with a bright acidity.

If you’re looking for something funky and flavorful, give these wild and crazy beers a try! The sourness makes them perfect for hot summer days.

Here are 10 popular commercial examples of American Wild Ales:

  1. Russian River Beatification – One of the OG American wild ales, this is spontaneously fermented with a blend of yeast and bacteria that gives it a tart, funky and complex flavor profile with notes of lemon, pineapple, and earthiness.
  2. Jester King Le Petit Prince – Brewed in Texas, this mixed-fermentation ale is bright and fruity with a balanced acidity. It’s aged in wine barrels for a touch of oak.
  3. Bruery Terreux Saison Rue – Sour farmhouse ale with lively carbonation. Aged in oak barrels which lend vanilla and spice flavors. Nice lemony tartness.
  4. Cascade Bourbonic Plague – Rich and funky wild ale aged for up to 2 years in bourbon barrels. Develops flavors of vanilla, oak, and tart cherry.
  5. Logsdon Seizoen Bretta – From Oregon, this unfiltered wild ale has apple cider notes with a refreshingly sour finish from the addition of Bretta yeast.
  6. Prairie Artisan Ales Funky Gold Mosaic – Bright tropical fruit flavors like mango, pineapple and tangerine with a restrained tartness and champagne-like effervescence.
  7. Black Project Wild Cocktail No. 1 – Colorado wild ale with cherry, hibiscus and apricot added. Vinous fruit flavors with floral notes and balancing sourness.
  8. Scratch Brewing Chardonn-Ale – A wild ale aged in chardonnay barrels. Dry and funky with crisp apple flavors and oaky, wine-like notes.
  9. Anchorage Galaxy White IPA – Hoppy American wild ale with citrus and tropical fruit flavors. Tart and dry with a pleasant funky, yeasty character.
  10. Crooked Stave Origins – Light-bodied wild ale aged in oak with a lemony sourness. Notes of hay, grapefruit and quinine.

Have you ever dived into the world of American Wild Ale? It’s like a rollercoaster of flavors that takes your taste buds on a wild ride. This isn’t your average beer; it’s a unique gem in the craft beer universe.

We’ll explore what makes American Wild Ale stand out, its history, brewing magic, and those distinct characteristics that make it a must-try for any beer lover.

Historical Background

Origins of American Wild Ale

Let’s hop into our beer time machine and travel back to the roots of American Wild Ale. Picture this: European settlers arrive in America, bringing along their beloved beer recipes.

But here’s the twist – they had to get creative with local ingredients and wild yeasts. American Wild Ale was born out of this beautiful mishmash of tradition and innovation. It’s like a fusion cuisine, but for beer!

Evolution from Traditional Brewing

Traditional brewing is like following a well-trodden path, but American Wild Ale brewers decided to wander through the woods instead. They embraced the unpredictability of wild fermentation, where wild yeasts and bacteria are the unsung heroes.

This process is as much an art as it is a science, akin to letting Mother Nature paint her flavors into each batch.

Influence of European Brewing Styles

American Wild Ale might be a unique American creation, but let’s tip our hats to its European ancestors. Styles like Belgian Lambics and German Sours have left their fingerprints all over it.

Think of it as a student who’s learned from different masters, combining lessons to create something extraordinary.

Brewing Process of American Wild Ale

Crafting the Wild Brew

Now, let’s dive into the witch’s brew of brewing American Wild Ale. It’s not just about mixing water, hops, and malt.

The real magic happens with the introduction of wild yeast and bacteria. It’s like adding a pinch of chaos into the mix – you never quite know how it’s going to turn out, but that’s part of the excitement.

Wild Yeast and Bacteria: The Flavor Alchemists

In typical beers, brewers use cultivated yeast strains for predictable results. But with American Wild Ale, wild yeast strains like Brettanomyces, and bacteria like Lactobacillus, play the lead roles.

They’re like the jazz musicians of the beer world, improvising and creating complex, unpredictable melodies of flavors.

A Different Brewing Rhythm

Brewing American Wild Ale is like dancing to a different rhythm. The process can be slower and more unpredictable compared to conventional brewing.

It’s a test of patience and skill, where brewers must learn to expect the unexpected and embrace the whims of nature.

Characteristics of American Wild Ale

A Symphony of Flavors and Aromas

Imagine a symphony where each instrument plays a wildly unique tune – that’s American Wild Ale for you. Every sip is a surprise.

You might get a tangy, fruity note one moment and a funky, earthy undertone the next. It’s like a flavor kaleidoscope, constantly shifting and dazzling your palate.

The ABV (Alcohol By Volume) Range

When it comes to the kick, American Wild Ales are like a choose-your-own-adventure book. They can range from a gentle 4-5% ABV, perfect for a sunny afternoon, all the way up to a robust 10% or more, ideal for those who like their beer with a bit more oomph.

Colors and Textures: A Visual Feast

Pour an American Wild Ale into a glass, and it’s like an artist’s palette. From pale golds to deep ambers, each one is a visual feast.

And the texture? It can be anything from effervescent and light to rich and velvety. It’s a beer that not only tastes good but looks stunning in your glass.

Popular Brands and Their Unique Offerings

Leaders of the Wild Pack

In the world of American Wild Ale, some brewers stand out like rockstars at a concert.

Brands like Russian River, with their famed ‘Supplication’, or Jester King, known for their farmhouse ales, are just a few of the names that have become synonymous with quality and innovation in this field.

Tasting the Distinct Flavors

Each brewer brings something unique to the table. You might find hints of cherry, oak, or even a sour kick that leaves your taste buds dancing.

It’s like a global food festival, but in the world of beer – each brewer showcasing their unique twist on this classic style.

Market Impact

These trailblazing brewers aren’t just making great beer; they’re shaping the craft beer landscape. They’ve turned American Wild Ale from a niche product into a must-have for beer aficionados, expanding the horizons of what beer can be.

Pairing American Wild Ale with Food

The Perfect Match

Pairing food with American Wild Ale is like finding the perfect dance partner – it’s all about complementing and contrasting.

The beer’s acidity and fruitiness can cut through the richness of cheese, or harmonize beautifully with spicy dishes. It’s like a culinary duet, where both the food and the beer elevate each other.

Enhancing Culinary Experiences

Imagine sipping a tart, fruity Wild Ale with a creamy, rich cheesecake. Or picture a funky, sour ale alongside a spicy Thai curry. These pairings aren’t just about quenching thirst; they’re about creating an unforgettable culinary experience.

Cultural Significance of American Wild Ale

A Staple in American Craft Beer Culture

American Wild Ale isn’t just a beer; it’s a symbol of the American spirit in the craft beer world. It’s like the jazz music of beers – innovative, complex, and deeply rooted in a rich cultural tapestry.

This style embodies the boldness and creativity of American brewers, pushing the boundaries and challenging the norms of traditional brewing.

Influencing Global Beer Trends

The impact of American Wild Ale goes beyond the shores of the U.S. It’s like a trendsetter in a fashion show, influencing brewers and beer enthusiasts worldwide.

This style has inspired a global movement, encouraging experimentation and a deep appreciation for the art of brewing.

Pros and Cons of American Wild Ale

The Bright Side: Uniqueness and Artistry

The pros of American Wild Ale are like the bright colors in a vibrant painting. Each beer is a unique masterpiece, showcasing the artistry and skill of its brewer.

There’s a sense of adventure in every bottle – a journey into uncharted flavor territories.

The Challenges: Variability and Accessibility

However, every rose has its thorns. The unpredictable nature of wild fermentation can lead to variability in quality.

It’s like going to a surprise movie – sometimes you’re thrilled, other times not so much. Additionally, these ales can be harder to find, making them a treasure hunt for beer enthusiasts.

Ratings and Consumer Reviews

Online Buzz: What the Web is Saying

When it comes to American Wild Ale, the online world is buzzing with opinions. Beer rating sites and forums are like bustling marketplaces, filled with lively discussions and reviews. It’s a goldmine of information for anyone curious about what makes these ales tick.

A Comparison with Other Beer Styles

In these online arenas, American Wild Ale often stands out for its bold flavors and innovative brewing techniques.

Compared to more conventional beers, it’s like comparing a spicy, exotic dish to classic comfort food – both have their place, but one offers a more adventurous experience.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are 10 frequently asked questions and answers about the American Wild Ale beer style:

What are American Wild Ales?

American Wild Ales are a unique type of sour beer that uses wild yeast strains and bacteria to create funky, tart flavors. They evolved from the wild fermentation traditions of Belgium but with an American twist, often including new ingredients and aging methods.

How are they fermented?

These beers are fermented with unconventional yeast strains like Brettanomyces as well as bacteria like Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. This kicks off a spontaneous fermentation that creates sour and funky flavors.

What causes the sour taste?

The sourness comes primarily from the bacteria which produce lactic and acetic acids as byproducts, lowering the pH and giving an acidic, tart taste. The Brettanomyces yeast also contribute earthy, leathery notes.

Are fruits used?

Yes, fruit additions like cherries, grapes, and apricots are very common. The fruit sugars ferment into tart and vinous flavors that complement the sourness. Herbs and spices are also sometimes added.

How are they aged?

Aging in wine or spirit barrels is popular, as the oak imparts tannins, vanilla and woody complexity over time. Most wild ales require longer aging to fully develop desired flavors.

What is the texture like?

Most are bone dry and light-bodied, often highly carbonated. The effervescence enhances the bright, clean acidity. Some higher ABV versions can have a fuller mouthfeel.

How sour are they?

The sourness level can range from gently tart to bracingly sour depending on fermentation. Most are moderately sour to balance the funkiness. Acidity declines over very long aging.

What food pairings work well?

The high acidity pairs nicely with rich and fatty foods like cheese, pork, and oily fish. Fruit-based wild ales go great with salads and sweeter desserts. Funky varieties complement earthy flavors.

When were they first brewed?

American craft brewers started experimenting with wild fermentation in the 1990s, inspired by classic Belgian lambics and Flanders Reds. Russian River and Jester King pioneered the style.

Are they accessible for new drinkers?

The unusual flavors make them an acquired taste for some. But fruit-forward varieties can appeal to those new to sour beer. Their complexity offers something for experienced beer geeks too.


American Wild Ales represent a pioneering spirit of innovation that has come to define American craft brewing. By returning to the spontaneous fermentation traditions of the past while incorporating novel ingredients and techniques, these beers encapsulate a sense of adventure and individuality.

The complexity and variety of flavors in Wild Ales reflect the creativity and passion of the brewers who make them.

The future looks bright for this unique beer style as more breweries continue to experiment and consumers seek out new taste experiences. While still a niche, American Wild Ales have had an outsized influence on the craft beer world.

Their quirky flavors have helped push the boundaries of what beer can be. With increased mainstream exposure, these funky brews have an opportunity to convert even more people to the wild side.

American Wild Ales are a testament to the boundless creativity possible within brewing. As the style evolves, brewers will keep finding new ways to explore the deliciously unpredictable nature of spontaneous fermentation.

For those with an adventurous palate, American Wild Ales offer an endlessly fascinating spectrum of flavors to discover. The possibilities are as untamed as the yeast and bacteria that create them.