Zipline Culture Lab, located in our Downtown Omaha Taproom offers wild and mixed fermentation beers allowing us to be creative with funky, small batch brews in a controlled environment. Only available at our Downtown Omaha Taproom location, until now. We snuck a very small volume out to be featured at each of our four taprooms Friday, January 24th for your drinking pleasure.
What is a wild ale? Is it the same as a sour?
Firstly: not all wild ales are sour and not all sour ales are wild. Furthermore, wild ale is a style and sour is, well, a flavor.
Allow us to explain. We’ll try to be brief and specific!
A wild ale gets its name from of the addition of “wild” yeast or micro flora (naturally derived living bacteria) which is used along with or totally in place of traditional brewer’s yeast (Saccharomyces Cerevisiae). Classically, wild ales were left out in the open air to ferment; producing all sorts of cultures. Today we can accomplish a highly similar effect by using a lab cultivated strain; in our case Brettanomyces aka Brett. The addition of such yeast or bacteria will result in a wild ale but it doesn’t necessarily create a sour ale. This is especially true when Brett is the sole yeast in question. The flavors Brett produces have been described as: barnyard, horse blanket, funky, goat cheese, bitter, even acrid. These are quite different from flavors one comes to associate with a sour ale (bright, acidic, sharp, fruity) which are imparted on a beer by bacteria such as Lactobacillus aka Lacto. Therefore, if you take a beer and hit it with Brett AND Lacto you may get a wild ale that is also sour. However, if you fermented a beer with Brett alone, you get a wild ale lacking in anything sour (for the most part).