It’s finally here. The all sour taproom headed up by Jace Marti (of Schell’s) was given the go ahead from the TTB recently and they’ve opened the doors and are ready to serve (check their social media for hours) their popular Berliner Weiss beers. “This story began in 1919. Prohibition happened, so for 13 years we were making soda” according to Jace. He is of course referring to those beautiful cypress tanks they purchased (and repurposed for the Starkeller) back in 1936 which were much cheaper than their steel counterparts. “We couldn’t afford new equipment after prohibition so we installed wooden tanks instead of steel ones.” The vessels were used at Schell’s from 1936 until 1991, mostly for Deer Brand Lager.
One might ask why they decided to use these cypress tanks from 1936 at the new space. Well there are a couple of reasons. For one, they’re gorgeous, rare, and they add a ton of character to the space. “These are the last 10 tanks like this in the world” says Marti. Another reason is that the bacteria and brettanomyces being used at the brewery like a tiny bit of oxygen which steel tanks can’t provide on their own. The cypress tanks breathe a little which allows a very small amount of oxygen in without ruining the beer.
Why Berliner Weiss? Schell’s has always made traditional German style lagers but Jace wanted to do something a little bit different. So he went to Berlin to learn about a style of beer they were brewing over there that had roots in other parts of Europe. “The French brought the sour technique that they learned in Belgium over to Berlin” he says.
The second oldest family run brewery in the country is once again changing the way we think about beer. From Belgium to Berlin, and now to New Ulm. Welcome to Sour Country.