Collective Brewing Project in Fort Worth has built a reputation for its funky and sour beers, and this Saturday the brewery debuts a recipe that will show off what it can do with one of its newest beer making tools: a foeder.
A foeder, pronounced "food-er," is a large wooden tank, at its simplest. Named for the Dutch word for "oak tank," it's the original vessel in which Europeans fermented beer and wine before the advent of stainless steel, according to Matt Walters, a cooper at Foeder Crafters of America, the only American foeder manufacturer. Walters began building foeders stateside about four years ago, as sour beer making began to skyrocket in popularity.
"It's old school, but all the cool kids are doing it now," Walters says.
Walters' company built Collective's foeder, which stands six feet tall and acts like a sponge for its house culture. Last September, brewers filled the foeder up and inoculated the tank with an original mix of more than 10 different yeast and bacteria strains, according to Ryan Deyo, head brewer and co-founder.
"We use [a foeder] because of all the nooks and crannies in wood," Deyo says. "Instead of treating it like a normal brewing vessel where we clean it every time, we literally just take beer out of it, put it into barrels, and on that same day -- it's a super giant pain in the ass -- but we fill it right back up."
"The wood is good at harboring that yeast and bacteria, so it changes and evolves over time," he adds.
Deyo describes the new beer, called Wood Folk, as a "rustic golden ale," which will serve as the base beer for future iterations in Collective's Foeder Fantasies Series. It utilizes aged hops, oats, spelt and rye malts that balance the fruitiness and acidity of the yeasts. Expect notes of grilled pineapple and stone fruits against a citrus-like acidity, Deyo says.
Fans of Collective's flagship Petite Golden Sour Ale will find Wood Folk to be more complex.
"This is kind of our classical music compared to rock," Deyo says.
The brewery is releasing 1,500 bottles of Wood Folk, which will be available exclusively in the taproom and at select bars in D-FW, but there will be plenty more in the foeder series. Right now, Deyo is aging Wod Folk in barrels with peaches as well as with ginger, orange peel and vanilla.
But even if you were to try the original Wood Folk recipe another time, it would likely taste different. As Collective brewers inundate the foeder with new wort (the beer liquid before it's fermented), it changes the culture living in the wooden vessel and thereby the flavor. Additionally, Collective blends the beer from several fermentation barrels to get the end result.
Wait a minute. Shouldn't drinkers be able to expect a consistent taste each time they try that beer?
Not in Deyo's eyes.
"It's very much a dynamic way of making beer ... we blend for flavor and to make kick-ass beer instead of trying to same the same thing over and over again," he says.
"Consistency is boring to us."
Collective Brewing Project hosts a Wood Folk bottle release party Saturday, Aug. 13 from 2-10 p.m. at the brewery in Fort Worth (112 St. Louis Ave.).