The Story of Horse Tongue Wheat

Ever wonder how this unique wheat beer got its name? Long before we built our current sour barrel room, the building that houses it used to serve as a barn for Shire horses (we used to give carriage ride tours around our 26-acre brewery grounds…those were the days!)  At the time, our sour program had only a handful of barrels from local wineries, so we stored them inside the barn next to the horse stalls.  In particular, we had been experimenting with a wheat beer aged in white wine barrels.  One day, our barn hand opened the barn door and began to clean the stables. As he went about his business, he noticed a bung from one of the barrels on the stable floor.  For a moment he was confused, but then he realized that one of the horses had actually leaned far enough over the stall to reach a barrel and presumably had a taste of the beer aging inside (Shire horses are quite TALL…similar to a Clydesdale.) Fearing he’d be blamed, he replaced the bung and told no one.  Months later, our brewers were taking barrel samples and found that particular barrel of experimental wheat ale had unexpectedly turned sour and funky, but it was actually pretty delicious! From that one barrel, we took a sample of the beer to our lab and captured what became to be known as our Horse Tongue Wheat sour culture…a blend of pediococcus damnosus, lactobacillus, brettanomyces, and wild yeasts found naturally here in Anderson Valley. Eventually the barn hand confessed his secret, but we all had a good laugh. Today, we use it to inoculate Horse Tongue Wheat as well as our rare and popular barrel-fermented Thribble Currant.  Look for both in 22oz bottles and draft later this year!

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