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Photo by Ed Miller

Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.  

It’s the Fourth of July, so I’m going to keep this week’s Thirsty Thursday pretty short, because I have hot dogs to eat, swimming pools to jump into and fireworks to gaze upon tonight.  I stopped at my local bottle shop recently and wanted something that wasn’t an IPA, whether it be a New England style IPA, an American IPA or any other, so I grabbed Almanac Beer Company’ Barrel-Aged Sunshine & Opportunity.  The reason for this selection stems back to an interview with New Trail Brewing Company’s Mike LaRosa earlier this year, in which he noted a future collaboration with the folks at Almanac.  Always trust brewers who make quality beer.

Founded in 2010 by Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan, business partners who met at a homebrewers club, Almanac is a northern California-based company that focuses on small batch offerings, with several special releases including farm to barrel, specially-aged, beers.  Almanac’s aim is to create something special and uniquely Northern Californian that is both fresh and unique and, since it’s best known for farmhouse ales and oak-aged sours, I figured I had to try one.

Sunshine & Opportunity comes in a 16-ounce pounder can.  It’s a 5.8 percent ABV dry-hopped sour ale aged in local oak barrels with pear juice and features Mosaic, Sabro and Citra hops.  It could also be considered a farmhouse ale or a Belgian saison if you really want to split hairs. Almanac lists both the malts and the hops on the can label, which I really like, so I know what I’m getting into with I’m drinking.  Speaking of the can, it features a pretty simple look, with a green, orange and yellow color combination, almost like a sunset – and it also lets you know that it’s tart, refreshing and tropical. Here’s the description on the can:

This mixed-culture farmhouse ale was aged in oak barrels with pear juice. A delicate dry-hop of Sabro, Citra, and Mosaic imparts a transcendent tropical aroma.

When I cracked it open, I smelled traces of the malts, the hops and the yeast, with just a little note of citrus mixed in there.  It was an enticing smell, one you would usually expect from a barrel-aged sour like this one. I really liked the pour, as this medium-bodied beer had a lot of fluffy white head to it, perfectly complementing the straw-like color.  Did I pour it a little heavy, sure, but I like getting a little extra head at the top, particularly for lighter beers, such as farmhouse efforts.

The taste was delicious.  I decided to crack this one open on a nice, hot day and it was incredibly refreshing, to the point where I could have easily had another, especially with the light ABV, even though I only bought one.  It was malty, it was hoppy, it was sour – it was what you want from this specific style and it just proved Almanac’s ability to make a complex beer. From the first sip, I mostly noticed the forward malt flavor and, on the back-end, a hint of orange and tangerine citrus.  It was sour without overdoing it and I could definitely notice the tartness brought on from oak barrel-aging.

The price on this single beer was pretty solid, somewhere between $4.50 and $5.00 and the score on BeerAdvocate is very solid, with an average of 4.06.  I think that is spot on to be honest, because this is one of the better sours I have had in recent memory – and I want more.  Sunshine & Opportunity is refreshing, unbelievable drinkable and downright delicious and for that I would score this beer an 8.1 out of 10.  I will definitely keep my eyes peeled for more from Almanac.

Stay tuned for next week, because I might just try something from your favorite brewery.