American Wild Ale
American wild ale's are beers introduced to "wild" yeast or bacteria, giving it an extremely unique flavor and funky aroma. The Brewer’s Association guidelines break American Wild Ales into three categories: American-style Sour Ales, American-style Brett Beer, and wood-aged and barrel-aged Sour Beer. These three Wild Ale Styles emerge depending on the types of fermentation, yeast, or bacteria used to make the brew. Three commonly used yeast and bacteria are Brettanomyces, Pediococcus, or Lactobacillus. Some brewers use naturally existing strains of yeast and bacteria by isolating the cells and culturing them in a lab, while others purchase pure strains from the same labs that supply brewers yeast.
The wild yeast leaves a noticeably strong mark on the ale and contributes a sour, funky aroma and flavor, which is why the brew is termed "wild". This sour, tart, funkiness is the defining trait of an American Wild Ale Beer. Base beers used for American Wild Ales are usually fruity beers, Belgian styles, or Brown Ales. The medium-bodied brews are complex and variant of each other ranging from light to dark, hoppy to malty, strong to session, and barrel-aged, or not. The flavor of the ale varies as well featuring flavors of fruit, spice, or pepper, but is always followed by a mouth-puckering sourness.
The brew often has an ABV that falls in the 6-10% range. American Wild Ale Beer is best served in a tulip glass, at a cool temperature between 46 and 54 degrees Fahrenheit. The brew pairs well with seafood, sausages, and cured or smoked meats. As for cheeses, the beer can be paired two ways, with a mild cheese like Chèvre, which lets the beer stand out, or a bold cheese like blue, which stands up to the brew.
Many American Wild Ales are special release beers and cannot be found year round. However, this beer of acquired taste continues to gain popularity across the United States.