Funk Factory Geuzeria is branching out from its nationally recognized lambic-inspired and mixed-culture sour beers. It recently received approval for a change in its federal alcohol license that will allow it to produce cider, mead and wine. “We do a lot of fruit fermentations with our sour beers. This is something new, exciting and in a different realm of the natural fermentation world,” says Kyle Metz, Funk Factory’s head of operations. Funk Factory isn’t leaving its sours behind, says Metz. “This is just a way to create new flavors.”
The geuzeria has started talking with local farmers about the fall harvest and what will be available. Funk Factory will likely start with ciders, because apples are easier to buy and do not require the longer fermentation time associated with wines and meads. Production is expected to remain limited for the first few years and the products most likely only distributed through the taproom.
Funk Factory doesn’t have a strict schedule when it comes to introducing new beers; that’s mostly because it blends its beers by taste. It’s subjective, and a bit of a process to determine when barrels are ready, and which ones should be mixed in blending vintages.
This summer the geuzeria is making a Saison Botanique series. These beers merge the wide-ranging characteristics of the saison and blend in such botanicals as herbs, flowers and spices. The current installment of the series, called Busy Bee, incorporates lemon verbena, jasmine flowers, fresh orange juice and zest and bee pollen. It is bright yellow-gold and slightly hazy. Crisp, fresh notes of orange up front combine with the sharp acidity associated with mixed fermentation. The jasmine and bee pollen lend subtle sweetness to the nose. It’s available for drinking in Funk Factory’s taproom in 375 mL bottles ($16).
Next up in the series will be Cocktail Alchemy, with gin-like character from juniper berries blended with rose petals and orris root. I had an advance taste of it recently and found it less acidic than Busy Bee, with lots of juniper in the nose. Look for it in early August. The beers in the Saison Botanique series have about a 6.5 percent ABV.
More beers to look for in July
Madison’s One Barrel Brewing Company is celebrating its 10th birthday this summer with a new beer simply named 10 Year Beer. This is a juicy IPA featuring Callista hops which lend a slightly sweet tropical flavor with touches of stone fruit, red grapefruit and raspberries. It finishes at a modest 6.5 percent ABV. It’s sold in six-packs in the taproom and in local stores ($12). The beer evolved from the brewery’s other popular hazy IPAs, Ninja Dust and Hypercolor.One Barrel has finally restarted in-house brewing. While production of packaged beer continued at Octopi Brewing in Waunakee, experimental brews from the small one-barrel system in the back of the Atwood Avenue taproom have been suspended since March 2020 due to the pandemic. Brewer Rudy Heath has taken over the system and he brewed his first beer in late June. It’s expected to be a dark brown porter with woody, piney bitterness from fuggle hops. Watch for it to be on tap by mid-July.
Phil Hoechst, owner and brewmaster at the Hop Haus in Fitchburg and Verona, is releasing Tropic Twist in 16-ounce cans (four-packs, $10). This IPA well is well suited for warm weather drinking. At its fruity, tropical core is Mosaic hops and guava juice. It is packed with orange, grapefruit and berry flavors from the guava. It ends up around 6 percent ABV. You can find it in four-packs of 16-ounce cans at Hop Haus or in stores.
Eagle Park Brewing is often recognized for its hazy IPAs and heavily fruited beers. However don’t overlook what this Milwaukee brewery can do with the pilsner style. Fishing for Fishies is more than just a boating beer. It is a creative approach to the classic, clean, light golden lager. It has an international feel to its recipe, with German Barke malt, a Danish yeast strain and dry-hopping with Australian Ella. Because of all those non-traditional pilsner ingredients, Eagle Park co-owner Jake Schinker refers to it as a “mutt of a lager.”
It may not have the German beer pedigree for the style, but the beer involves something from everywhere, says Schinker. This is a light and flavorful summer beer: clean and crisp, featuring lemon flavor from the Ella hops that’s balanced with subtle malt breadiness. It finishes at 4.5 percent ABV (six-packs, $10). Eagle Park Brewing is planning to add a distillery to its Hamilton Street taproom in Milwaukee. Eagle Park has been around since 2017 and also has a brewery with a distillery in Muskego, Wisconsin.
Another great light lager to watch for in July is Peck’s Pilsner from the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company. This Czech-style pilsner has been offered on tap at the Great Dane since it opened in 1994, but this month it will be packaged in 12-ounce cans and six-packs ($10) for the first time. This pilsner has a touch of spiciness from Saaz hops that emerge next to a rich, soft, malty backbone. It’s a solid take on the Czech-style pilsner It also has a great back story as its name is an homage to Madison’s first public house — opened by Roseline and Eben Peck in 1837 opposite the Great Dane’s downtown location.