Carolina Beer Guy: Green Man’s Snozzberry returns

WONKA ALLMAN: Asheville's Green Man Brewery will release Snozzberry and Drink a Peach sour beers, exclusively in bottles, on July 21. Photo courtesy Green Man Brewery

It’s been a while since its last appearance, but Green Man Brewery’s prized Snozzberry fruited sour beer is back this weekend.

Snozzberry and a sibling sour called Drink a Peach go on sale Saturday, July 21, at 11 a.m. at the “Green Mansion” brewery, and customers may line up as early as 8 a.m. at the facility’s loading dock for these 750-milliliter, bottle-only beers. The prices are $29 for Snozzberry and $21 for Drink a Peach, which Kyle McKenzie, head of the specialty, wood and sour program at Green Man, says reflects the cost of ingredients and the time and effort that went into making these beers.

This is only the fourth release of Snozzberry, which last appeared in 2016. “It’s just [released] when the barrels start tasting right,” McKenzie says. A planned release in 2017 was scrapped: “It just didn’t taste right and we ended up destroying it.”

Snozzberry is a blonde sour ale that includes 2 pounds per gallon of blackberry, blueberry and raspberry purée. This year’s edition is a blend of barrel-aged base beers aged on neutral French oak — previously used for red and white wines — for 18-38 months. The blended beer is then aged for three months on fruit, also in French oak barrels.

“It’s very fruit-forward,” McKenzie says. “It has a nice puckering acidity and finishes dry on the palate.”

How quickly Snozzberry sells remains to be seen. Some Green Man sours have sold out on their first day, while others have lasted longer.

Green Man is an Asheville pioneer in making sour beers, a style that continues to grow in popularity. McKenzie has been working at Green Man for six years, taking over what he says remains a “very small” sour program from Mike Karnowski, who now runs his own Weaverville brewery, Zebulon Artisan Ales.

“Half of the rules for producing beers, you sort of throw away [when making sours],” McKenzie says. “No two sour beers taste alike. As brewers have gotten better at making them, people have come around to enjoying them.”

Green Man has about 50 barrels, all of which are used multiple times. The brewery’s main barrel-aged sour beers include Bootsy (a sour black ale) and Maceo (an imperial brown ale with cherries), and the goal is to release each offering on an annual basis. Joining them this summer is Drink a Peach, a sour saison.

“We brewed a peach saison a year and a half ago, and had some left over,” McKenzie says. “It took about 12 months for the base saison to sour. We blended it with a brett blonde ale and put in a pound per gallon of apricot puree. It’s not quite as puckering as previous Green Man sours have been — it’s possible to drink a bottle without getting ‘sour mouth.'”

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About Tony Kiss
Tony Kiss covers brewing news for the Xpress. He has been reporting on the Carolina beer scene since 1994. He's also covered distilling and cider making and spent 30 years reporting on area entertainment. Follow me @BeerguyTK

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