Craft Beer! Everybody’s got some. Name an out-of-the-way burgh, and chances are good they can offer you a locally brewed hazy IPA and a kettle sour of reasonable quality. So… with the beer market saturated as it is right now, what’s next? One of the most exciting trends to date is in part the current trend towards hyper-localization, combined with an important source of inspiration from the wine world: the concept of terroir.
Winemakers, particularly from the Old-World regions in Europe, have long valued the notion that the soil, water, and surrounding environment of a particular plot of land have a profound effect on the complexity and nuance in the wines they produce, and that nature unimpeded – far more than the skills of any one winemaker – is responsible for what ends up in the glass. In fact, long prior to the era of long-distance distribution or mass-production, the beer world also followed this approach (albeit out of necessity.) The lambics of Belgium are a prime example, using airborne yeast, well-water, and local grains.
Now this isn’t a big trend in any way just yet, but it is an encouraging sign of where Craft Beer could go in the future. One of a handful of breweries embracing this philosophy is The Drowned Lands. Situated in the highly fertile “Black Dirt” area of the Hudson River Valley in New York and named after the flooded rivers used to feed the water supply for New York City, Drowned Lands prides itself on using its mineral-rich water, grains grown from its dense black soil, and local wild yeasts for its mixed-fermentation beers. This is a true farmhouse brewery, housed in a restored 19th century administration office for a boy’s reform school project run by Eleanor Roosevelt (!)
Right now, TSG is happy to showcase four offerings from The Drowned Lands – two mixed-fermentation farmhouse ales – Slow River and Little Village- with stunningly unique, earthy flavor profiles that we honestly don’t think have many points of comparison. Then we have Fresh Terra – a deep, velvety double IPA, and Harvest Kill – a fruited sour IPA that pulls off a high-wire balancing act of fruit, acidity, bitterness and mouthfeel. These are such amazingly complex, singular beers – if you have an adventurous palate and you can’t wait to see what’s around the corner in the world of great craft beer, this is your stop! Long Live Terroir Beer!
By Tom Breeding, Beer Director