When longtime (over 13 years) Midnight Sun Head Brewer Gabe Fletcher announced he was leaving to open his own brewery, it created quite a buzz. Anchorage Brewing Company has already even receive a coveted spot the portfolio of famed beer importers Shelton Brothers. The new brewery features 100% barrel-aged beers all using brettanomyces. The only other American brewery doing this--as far as I know--is Jolly Pumpkin in Dexter, Michigan. The first of Anchorage Brewing's beers, Whiteout Wit Bier, has made it to Oregon, and I picked up a bottle to check out.
All of Anchorage Brewing's beers are packaged in caged and corked, 750ml bottles, with no draft availability at all. I must say, though, that the actual bottle is underwhelming, with rather bland 3-color screen printed artwork on the glass evoking a wintry Christmas theme with a red, green, and white color scheme. The Whiteout Wit label says that it is brewed with spices and brettanomyces and aged in Chardonnay barrels.
The beer pours a beautiful hazy, unfiltered yellow, with just a half finger white frothy head. Not as much carbonation as I suspected from a corked and caged bottle with no pop.
Aroma of hay, sweet lemons, spruce, oak, cedar, funk, and light tartness. Love it.
Flavors of sour wheat bread and lots of oak at the forefront of this beer with little to no sweetness, but a slight lemony tartness makes up for it with lots of barnyard funky notes. This beer reminds me of a saison more so than a wit, and I mean that in a good way. As it warms, more wheat bread and citrusy tartness comes to the forefront, but always leaving a supremely dry and oaky finish. There is also plenty of bitterness in this beer, both from hops and that earthy Brettanomyces flavor. This is not a big, bold sour beer as some might expect, but comparisons to Jolly Pumpkin are not unwarranted. It has the flavor of fresh oak through and through that is borderline too much and it needs a bit more balance by having either a bit more sweetness or more acidity, but all in all it's still an enjoyable beer with much complexity of flavor. I wonder what setting down a bottle of this beer to age would do. I think it might improve with some age, and I imagine future batches will be better once some of that new oak flavor rounds out a little after refilling those barrels.