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While the North American craft-beer scene’s 70s and 80s roots tended toward British and German styles, an undeniable shift toward Belgian styles started in the late 90s and has hit full strength over the past five years. Here are three American breweries that are helping lead the current Belgian charge.
Logsdon Farm Brewery
Hood River, Oregon
“Farmhouse” isn’t just a style, but a lifestyle for Dave Logsdon, founder of the eponymously-named brewery. As one of the founders of Full Sail Brewing (and founder of Wyeast Labs), Logsdon has a depth of experience with craft beer matched by few. For his latest act, he’s built a brewery in the big red barn on his family’s 10-acre farm in Hood River and focused on a lineup of beers that’s purely Belgian-style. From the GABF gold-winning Seizoen Bretta to Cerasus, the World Beer Cup gold-winning Flanders red, Logsdon’s Pacific Northwest take on these traditional styles is making waves and racking up accolades.
River North Brewery
This 2 ½-year-old brewery, located in (and named after) Denver’s River North district, launched in 2012 with a mission to brew “yeast-centric beers with Belgian-style flair.” Owners Matt and Jessica Hess continue to carve out space in the competitive Denver craft-beer market with consistently strong releases including their canned River North White witbier and Belgian IPA as well as their Quandary quad and J. Marie Farmhouse Ale. In addition to their year-round releases, an aggressive barrel-aging program has delivered an impressive number of special releases, such as their fan-favorite Rum Barrel Quandary. Recently, they jumped on the beer-inspired-by-cocktails trend with a quad aged in used Manhattan cocktail barrels. Their success is paying off with a recent expansion into the Kansas City market. “I learned to love Belgian yeasts when I was homebrewing,” says Hess. “They just produce such a wide array of delicious and drinkable beers.”
Saint Somewhere Brewing Company
Tarpon Springs, Florida
Saint Somewhere’s Founder and Brewmaster Bob Sylvester has earned a reputation for being a bit of a curmudgeon, doggedly focusing on traditional brewing methods such as open fermentation and bottle conditioning and even arguing in favor of green bottles (it’s tradition!). But that same determination manifests itself in his brewing, and his studious focus on Belgian styles has produced some of the strongest farmhouse-style ales in the southeast United States. To some, limiting style so tightly constricts creativity, but for Sylvester, it provides a clear framework for exploration with beers such as Serge (a dark farmhouse ale) or Cynthiana (farmhouse ale brewed with grape must). His recent collaboration with Cigar City Brewing, named Deja Vu, dives into American Wild Ale territory, with an incredible citrus hops profile that will have you insisting they brewed with Florida’s main agricultural export (they didn’t—that character comes entirely from the play of hops and yeast).