Mishawaka’s Evil Czech brewery has been quietly developing a new line of beers at its closed Culver location, and the fruits of that labor will finally be offered to the public this Saturday.
Evil Czech will release two beers at an event in its beer garden on Saturday, July 23: Foxcatcher Farmhouse Ale and Citrus & Salt Sour. The beers will be available in 500ml bottles (two-thirds of a standard wine bottle), and there will be a limit of one on Foxcatcher Farmouse and four on Citrus & Salt. The brews will also show up at select retailers in the weeks to come.
The saison-like wild ale and fruity gose-style sour will be the first two beers bottled in the brewery’s line of wild and sour ales, each of which will be emblazoned with new artwork showing wild-eyed brewers throwing buckets of goodies into a brew kettle.
Foxcatcher Farmhouse takes Evil Czech’s Foxcatcher Saison and pumps it full of 12 different strains of brettanomyces, a wild yeast that can give beer flavors ranging from fruity and tart to funky and barnyard-y.
“It will really develop over time,” head brewer Simon O’Keeffe said during a pre-release beer tasting last week. “It’s at a stage right now that it is really starting to develop the brett character, but it will keep on going.”
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The beer is more approachable now, and O’Keeffe said it’s in perfect condition for immediate consumption, with its Lemondrop hops shining through alongside the wild yeast esters. For the more adventurous, holding onto a bottle for at least six months, and preferably a year, will yield a vastly different beer than the brewer intended. While most brett beers contain one or two strains of wild yeast, O’Keeffe said using a cocktail of 12 will deepen the character of the beer, as the strains tend to build on each other as they go.
The refreshing Citrus & Sour lands at the perfect time — the height of summer. The beer gets salinity from salt added during the brewing process and sourness from the addition of orange zest, blood-orange juice and lactobacillus bacteria, which throws off an acidic flavor as it eats its way through the sugars in beer.
“It’s a different take on, like, savory,” said Jeremy Nicely, an industry veteran hired by Evil Czech last December to help increase sales.
To push the citrus effect over the top, Citrus & Sour is also brewed with Mandarina Bavaria and Citra hops, both proprietary varieties designed to add orange and lemon flavors to beer.
“It’s a contemporary take on the classic salt sour,” O’Keeffe said. “I think it’s definitely relatively moderate when it comes to tartness, and with the salt you get great mouth feel.”
Citrus & Salt is the first beer truly to come out of the Culver brewhouse since O’Keeffe turned it into a lab for funky yeasts and bacteria. Foxcatcher Farmhouse was actually brewed in Mishawaka, with the wild yeast added in the bottle so as not to contaminate the production brew kettles. O’Keeffe said he has 10 or so additional beers in different stages right now in Culver, and he hopes to bottle and release a peach sour by the end of summer.
Part of the success of the project so far, according to O’Keeffe, has been due to Evil Czech’s new yeast supplier, Omega Yeast Labs out of Chicago. The lab is run by a microbiologist who’s active in the wild and sour brewing community, and O’Keeffe said it represents “one more push towards making the beer [as] local as possible.”
- RELATED: Closed Culver location is Evil Czech brewmaster’s new laboratory, Sept. 22, 2015
The wild and sour line isn’t the only change coming to Evil Czech, O’Keeffe said. In keeping with their more adventurous push, they’ll be phasing out Blonde Czich and a few other standard beers that have long constituted the brewery’s line of cans.
“We’re going through a small bit of a reinvention,” he said. “We have been and will continue to change up the variety of the cans. Basically Voodoo [Vanilla Rye Porter], Patton Pilsner and Lucky Dog are going to be the three mainstays in cans, and then we will be rotating in and out. We became stagnant on what we had on offer in cans, and we decided we are going to shake it up.”