Style: English-style strong ale / ABV: 7.5 percent
When he drew up plans for Ferment, founder Dan Peterson intended to focus on traditional styles brewed with ingredients from the places where the beers originated. That was his mantra when the brewery opened in 2018.
If you examine the tap list today, which includes everything from a Czech Pils made with barley grown and malted in Bohemia to a Märzen featuring German-cultivated Tettnanger hops, Peterson has met that goal. Working on a 20-barrel system that isn't fully automated—he prefers simple controls and a hands-on experience—Peterson pushes out a line of beers that hark back to earlier times and different places. Stock Ale is one of them.
"It's a style that dates to the 18th century, a beer used by English publicans to enhance the character of all their beers," Peterson says. "It was a strong ale cellared in barrels where Brettanomyces was present. Later, the aged ale was blended with newer brews to add character."
Ferment's Stock Ale is a modern rendition of the standard, made with English malts, hops and yeast. It's reasonably but not overly strong at 7.5 percent ABV, and features a silky-smooth body, complex flavors and a somewhat restrained Brett character—a gateway sour beer, if you will.
"This base beer was actually brewed at Zoiglhaus in Portland before we opened in Hood River," Peterson explains. "It was one of our first beers. I wanted to get some beer in barrels, and this is a style I was interested in."
After brewing and primary fermentation, Brettanomyces was added, and the batch spent a year aging in barrels. Once it rounded out, the beer was bottled and eventually released after some conditioning.
"It's a fun one and I'm happy with how it turned out," Peterson says. "I think it's a very approachable Brett beer, easy on the palate whether you're a big fan of the style or not."
Stock Ale is far from the end of the road for Ferment specialty beers. There are more in the pipeline, and the brewery even had a couple on draft during a recent visit.