Logsdon’s Sn4 Cuvée – a harmonious blend of Syrah and Grenache

This Sunday, May 14th the fine folks at North Portland’s Tin Bucket bottleshop and taproom are releasing two beers brewed for their 4th anniversary – Logsdon Farmhouse Ales Sn4 Cuvée and Ruse Brewing Turquoise Mountain Sunrise. An early sample of Logsdon Sn4 Cuvée reveals the latest in brewers experimentations hybridizing beer with wine in a spontaneously inoculated lambic-style beer refermented with Syrah and Grenache wine grapes.

Shaun Kalis of Ruse Brewing, photo by Steven Shomler


First off, Ruse Brewing, the small loose proprietorship that Ruse founder Shaun Kalis has with Culmination Brewing has produced some strong farmhouse and wild ales as well as IPA’s. Soon they will be moving into their own home, but we will cover that later. For Tin Bucket’s Anniversary Shaun Kalis and Devin Benware brewed a beer that they say tastes like a cocktail, thus the funny name “Turquoise Mountain Sunrise.” The beer is a golden ale that sat for eight months in pinot noir barrels with Ruse’s house brettanomyces culture before it was transferred to a tank to then age on pineapple puree. Turquoise Mountain Sunrise will only be available on tap.

Tin Bucket has close ties to Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, as Logsdon co-owner John Plutshack and his wife Jodie Ayura are partial owners of the bottle shop. Jason Monge is the other owner who oversees Tin Bucket and Logsdon brewer Shilpe Halemane reported that Jason “had asked if we could do something with wine grapes as a special release to celebrate their 4th Anniversary. I’ve been wanting to do the same for a while, and this was a great opportunity to do something on a small scale.”

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales installed a coolship in their attic for spontaneous fermentation and I wrote about it late last year – “Capturing the Terroir of the American Farmhouse Ale at Logsdon.” That spontaneous project is beginning to bear fruit as some of the first releases are making their way into bottles, like the recent Portland Farmhouse & Wild Ale Festival official beer and now Sn4 Cuvée.

“Sn4 Cuvee, was brewed in March of 2016, using a fairly traditional recipe for spontaneous innoculation: Pilsner malt, raw wheat, and aged hops. The beer was cooled in our coolship (Koelschip) overnight and matured in several cabernet sauvignon barrels alongside the rest of the spontaneous brews from that season.” reports Halemane. Some six months later in late September the brewers added locally grown Syrah grapes to one barrel of the base beer and Grenache grapes to the other. The additional sugars of the fruits restart the wild yeast and as the bugs slowly chew through the meat of the grape leaving only remnants of the skin in a refermentation that lasted another seven months.

The beer is separated into two different ferments on each variety of fruit rather than blending them, this separation of ferments Halemane says “allowed flexibility if we needed to make blending decisions later on. Luckily for us, the two barrels proved to be harmonious, and were blended equally.” Finally, like many (all?) Logsdon beers they are conditioned in bottles with a priming sugar of organic pear juice to start a 3rd ferment to naturally carbonate the beer.

Halemane reports that “The resulting beer is striking in color and aroma, immediately letting you know you are somewhere between a beer and a wine.”

This is one of the increasingly more common attempts by a brewer to approach beer more like a natural wine, creating a hybrid ale that works especially well with farmhouse and wild/mixed fermentation beers. Halemane confirms, “the idea here was to think like a winemaker in approaching the beer.  ”

He chose to use Syrah and Grenache for their common use in Rhone wines, “a region where wild yeast character is often present and can be a positive attribute. I thought these would work well for us, given the unknown nature of the yeasts and bacteria we’d be subjecting them to.”

Logsdon brewer Shilpi Halemane samples Kriek from the barrel

Halemane finds Syrah grapes among the most distinctive of red varieties, fruity, bold, peppery and tannic that go with Grenache’s lower tannins and acidity to create a classic wine flavor profile in Sn4 Cuvée. The beer with Syrah grapes indeed was more bolder and spicier while the Grenache was more funky and earthy while the base beer is bone dry at 0,05 degrees Plato. In the future Halemane plans to adjust fruiting amounts in the barrels and use other classic blending grapes like Mourvèdre, using malolactic fermentation to soften acidity, testing bacteria ferments in beer rather than wine and finding out how much flavor, color and aroma could come from just using pomace.

If your one of the lucky few to pick up a 750ml bottle of Sn4 Cuvée this Sunday at Tin Bucket, Halemane recommends “letting it come up in temperature (like you might with a red wine) after pouring to really get the most out of the fruit.”

Sunday, May 14th Noon
Tin Bucket
3520 N Williams Ave, Portland, Oregon 97227

Samurai Artist
Samurai Artist

Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com