Wild Oak Ales, based in Palm Beach County, is currently a darling of the South Florida craft beer community. Their focus is solely on wild yeast strains, with a lot of emphasis on yeasts such as brettanomyces. Lots of brett. In fact, one fan of theirs I spoke to exclaimed that he has not met a brewer with more knowledge about yeast than Matt Manthe, Wild Oak’s brewmaster and co-owner.
They are still looking for a permanent facility, but you can try their beers now if you look for them at beer events around the area. One of those events, of course, was the recent Delray Beach Craft Beer Fest at Delray Beach Center for the Arts. While I couldn’t try everything, I did manage to have a few beers with some great wild flavors (and incredibly huge names):
Blu Tang Clan (Ain’t Nuthin to Funk With; American Wild Ale, 7% ABV, 10 IBU) is a beer that, at first glance, looks deceptively sweet and sugary, especially when you listen to what it contains. According to Matt, Blu Tang Clan was first fermented with Lactobacillus and Brettanomyces, then aged with additions of blueberry and passionfruit.
But it’s incredibly dry, so you don’t get a gigantic wave of sweetness other fruit beers would have. Instead, there’s a light fruit spice layered on a complex, rough, and very flavorful yeast base. Hops and malt are present, but they just aren’t as important to a beer as the wonderful yeast is. Wine drinkers are going to love this beer, especially if you’re into dry, oaky varietals.
Who Put Brett In My Pedio (American Wild Ale, 6.5% ABV, 25 IBU) is a wild ale very reminiscent of a pale ale. Once again, though, it’s the yeast that carries the weight of the light, funky, unrefined-yet-deep flavor profile. It’s a little spiky, with maybe a hint of hops and an extremely light citrus quality to it.
I’m always hesitant when something opens up that seems to be based on a gimmick. Mat and his team at Wild Oak don’t have a gimmick; they have a talent and a knack for manipulating yeast that they are practically guaranteed to blow the South Florida craft beer scene away.
Just open soon, please.
Drink Florida Craft,