4/4/20: Tales from the Cellar #5--Zebulon Artisan Ales' Petite Blueberry Sour (for Lightning Hopkins) (2018)

2:06 PM

For our honeymoon two years ago, Michelle and I went to Asheville, NC. Well, that's what I tell people. In actuality, we went to a cabin just outside of Weaverville, NC. Weaverville is a town ten minutes outside of Asheville and not many people know about it. Which is a shame, because Zebulon Artisan Ales is in Weaverville and, in my opinion, it's one of the state's best breweries.

Henrietta invaded my photoshoot.

Since this is still coronavirus times, let me preface this post by saying you should wash your hands. And, since it's still coronavirus times, I'll say that this was a random draw from my cellar. I plucked it from my hand-me-down yellow shelves this morning and stuck it in my fridge for this post. Now that I see what it is, I'm happy. I had this on tap two years ago; it was good then, but I'm excited to see how it's aged.

Zebulon (their official website can be found here) is a small production brewery in Weaverville. They're only open on Fridays and Saturdays because they brew and bottle during the other days of the week. If you're ever in the general Asheville vicinity, they're definitely worth checking out.

This 2018 bottle of Petite Blueberry is a 5.1% ABV saison that was fremented on previously-used blueberries (the first use of the fruit had been in brewing the initial batch of the beer). It's official write up can be found here, but my bottle has some more information: Its primary fermentation was a wild culture in stainless steel and its secondary fermentation was on white wine yeast in the bottle. Also, looking at the date of that online writeup, I think I nabbed this from the brewery the day it dropped.

I get sour on Petite Blueberry's nose--none of the eponymous fruit. There's a definite white wine dryness here complimenting that welcome helping of summery sourness. It's a crisp, inviting bouquet and it makes me want to delve into the ale itself. Purrl, who gave my bottle fourteen whiffs, is on the same page.

The blueberry quality is more prevalent in the saison's flavor profile but, really,  that farmhouse funk is the star of the show. It's complex (seriously complex--I get straw, taffy, lavender, and lemon, among a myriad of other flavors at which I can only guess) and sour, but not bitingly so--only sour in a way that befits the fruit upon which it was fermented. All the flavor combined make for a damn refreshing summer sipper, which is just fine with me because its warm and sunny in my east-of-Cincinnati country town.

This is a champagne bubbly brew. It's fitting for both the style and the nuanced flavor profile. My bottle was a gusher, which is exactly what I want for a bottle-conditioned, wild-fermented fruit saison.

I've mentioned Strouds Run State Park and Conor Oberst and the Mystic Valley Band's Outer South in a post a few years ago. But, I think it's time to revisit that. Because Petite Blueberry Sour is a perfect summer beer, and it's right for a perfect summer memory.

See, the summer before my first master's, Michelle and I lived in a shitty apartment that was an eight minute drive from the park, which itself contained trials that were overgrown with poison ivy. What was the appeal of Strouds, then? Why, the beach of course. While it wasn't exactly a nice beach, it was our little Athens-oriented slice of paradise. We went there just about every day that summer, soaking in the sun and swimming in the park's warm, murky waters.

For the drive to and from the place, we'd listen to Outer South, a sixteen-track epic from Oberst and crew. It is, to this day, my go-to summer album because of how ingrained it was in our conscious that summer. In fact, I'm listening to it now, while birds and bugs sing from the woods next to me. That summer was everything I want a summer to be, and this saison would've fit into it perfectly.

Zebulon Artisan Ales' Petite Blueberry Saison (for Lightning Hopkins) is an easy 10/10 for me, as is Zebulon itself. I've found that not many people know of the place, which is a shame. For real, drop in if you ever get the chance to, and nab a bottle of something for me while you're there.

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