Wild Beer & Wood Project
Shawn’s Dream (Literally)
Founder Shawn Johnson has always been enamored with wood products in beer production. This helped inspired him to open a “wild” brewery of his own. In the fall of 2015 in the midst of launching Birds while working out of a satellite location founder, Shawn Johnson, had a dream one night. One of his inspirations, Ron Jeffries from Jolly Pumpkin Brewing, came to him in a dream. “You’re doing it wrong” Jeffries said “You’ve got to keep the beer moving, constantly moving.” Shawn woke up.
“Guys, we’ve been doing it all wrong.” Said Shawn the next morning to his team. He and his brewing team had been using more standard processes for saisons and wild beer up until now. “We’ve got to keep the beer moving. We have to push it and pull it through the wood to create more impactful magical flavor.” Within a few experimental batches, they had formalized a new process for creating and producing innovative wild beer unlike anywhere else, and as they say the rest is history.
Solera & Wild Beer Program
Solera is a perpetual blending process typically used in wine production, we’ve adopted and evolved this method for our wild beer program at Birds in a separate area of our production warehouse. Throughout this unique and methodical series of events we pull beer from different vessels and blend them together into one main batch in either a fermenter, foudre, or puncheon. This allows us to both maintain continuity in our beers by using vessels with flavors we can anticipate, and evolve beers by blending older strands with new ones. All of our wild beers use our house “Bird” yeast, which is over a decade and hundreds of generations old and has been making beer at our brewery since day 1. When Birds began, we focused solely on creating Solera products, since then we have evolved and create more clean and modern styles of beers to offer our community as well.
At Birds, we use non-temperature controlled open fermentation using dish bottom red wine tanks. This fosters more contact with the yeast during the fermentation process, keeping the yeast more expressive and allows the beer to ferment more rapidly.
Wild Beer To-Date
To this day, we still consider our Solera beers the most intriguing and exciting products that come out of our brewhouse. Currently, we produce around 1,000 barrels of wild beer annually. It is and will always beer our core identity as a brewery even as we evolve and expand our portfolio. As the craft beer landscape has changed, we have adapted to select styles and trends while still staying true to our passion of being Funk First/Progressively Old School.