Where the Wild Beers Are: Rare, funky brews at Stub & Herb's Sunday

If you love your beers rare, wild, and sour, check out Where the Wild Beers Are, the the third-annual gathering for fans of wild and sour beers, Sunday from noon to 4 pm at Stub & Herb's.

The event is essentially a "beer potluck" for obscure, funky beers made from wild yeasts (in the wild, they'd be found on, say, the skins of grapes) or bacteria. Attendees bring bottles to share in exchange for drink tickets to sample beers brought by others.

The Hot Dish checked in with co-founder Jeff Halvorson to find out what's on tap.

"I'd love to have some exotic story about hiking around Belgium sipping directly from fermentors, but it was really a trial-and-error process," Halvorson says of his interest in wild beers. "I started with what would be considered nontraditional, sweetened lambics like Lindemann's and the tart, overripe fruitiness of Rodenbach. By 2003 my wife. Lori, and I were visiting Belgium to experience true lambic direct from the best cafes, brewers, and blenders."

Wild beers are rare and take a lot of time and patience to make (years, not weeks), Halvorson explains, and the collaborative nature of the festival makes it possible to try lots of beers at a small expense.

The idea for the Where the Wild Beers Are, Halvorson says, came from watching people's reactions to beers he would bring to share. "People would huddle around wondering what it was. You tended to get this love-hate reaction to them, regardless of whether the person was a beer enthusiast already or were non-beer people that exclaimed that it was like champagne."

In general, Halvorson says, most of the domestic wild beer producers tend to be on the coasts, with the majority in California and Oregon or greater New England. But a couple of local brewers are making wild beers, including Summit's Brett Oatmeal Stout, Flat Earth's Extra Medium and Rode Haring Flanders Ale (I've had the latter and thought it was quite good). He also notes that Surly and some of the local brewpubs make them occasionally in small quantities.

Halvorson met his co--founder, Tim Stendahl, a few years ago at Firkin Fest. Now that Stendahl works in the beer industry in New York City, they have a Brooklyn branch of the festival as well, on October 30, in case you want to go twice.

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