Less wandering wagoner, more Django Reinhardt, Gypsy Ale is perhaps Telegraph’s flagship sour beer featuring Brettanomyces from its Obscura series of wild ales that are generally aged in wine barrels (despite the fact that winemakers cringe at the thought of “Brett” floating anywhere near their product). Although these vinous, sour beers are popular with beer geeks and wine lovers alike, surprisingly few breweries here produce them. Notable exceptions include Oxnard’s Casa Agria, Carpinteria’s brewLAB, Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks, and Paso Robles’ BarrelHouse.
The Obscura beers feature an array of intriguing ingredients — beyond the holy tetrad of malted barley, hops, yeast, and water — such as apricots, cherries, chai, or spearmint leaves, all of which were paraded in front of steady streams of sour-beer lovers during Telegraph’s fourth annual Día de las Obscuras in May. But Gypsy is one of the first produced by Telegraph, and it gives Santa Barbara–grown plums the pedestal treatment.
The plum sour leads with an herbal nudge of lemon peel and white sage, letting the funky yeast make the introduction before the plums creep through the tall grass. Many fruit beers bludgeon the drinker with juice, and sometimes that’s pretty wonderful, but Gypsy’s plums throw orange wine flavors as well as rose hips and gooseberries. This year’s batch, currently available on tap and in $12 375-ml bottles, is elegant and refreshing now or will lead to a more expressive stone-fruit experience if stored properly for a few years.