Craft breweries are a lot like indie bands. They're often made up of small groups of dedicated nerds who are constantly tinkering with new and exciting flavors, crafting things they hope fans will latch onto. And just like members of bands, brewers often break away from more established ensembles to form their own unique side projects.
Such is the case with Culmination head brewer Conrad Andrus' new Strange Loop imprint. Andrus' brand comes in partnership with Culmination sales head Paul Francis and Imperial Organic Yeast's Andrew Halladay, and is made inside Culmination's Northeast Portland brewpub, a startup-friendly institution that steadily helped grow Ruse Brewing into its excellent new brick-and-mortar location in Sellwood.
Strange Loop's debut beer, A Song for Summer, is the carbonated equivalent of a single the trio posted to Bandcamp without telling anyone. A 6 percent ABV sour saison made with cucumber and lime, and aged in stainless steel and bottles for a total of 15 months, it comes from a company with no website, Facebook page or email address to speak of. And yet, it may just be the smash single of summer.
A blend of tart lime-kissed acidity and melony cucumber sits atop a doughy bed of malt in the hazy golden ale, bursting across your tongue with bright seasonal energy and tempered by funky wild yeast on the finish. It's like a beautiful contemporary sour ale dressed for a beachfront luncheon in Cabo. Like most side projects, Andrus' friends and co-workers are the first to support him—you can try the beer at the Culmination or Ruse taprooms while it lasts. Recommended.