If the light industrial space at 1 Industrial Way in Portland had an anchor tenant, that title would likely go to Foundation Brewing Co. Many of the breweries that once occupied bays in the building have since packed up to head to new locations, and others that remain have stayed relatively small. Though Foundation was not the first to carve out space there, it will soon surpass Maine Beer Co. as the longest-running brewery occupant.
Foundation Brewing, which opened in 2014, has managed to transform its space from a closet-sized tasting room to a lively indoor/outdoor beer tasting space, including room for making much more beer. This is due, in part, to its ability to expand into other bays, including the area originally occupied by Maine Beer, then Bissell Brothers Brewing. The initial expansion could arguably be traced to the popularity of Epiphany – an IPA that became so beloved it was retired from our annual MaineToday Beer Bracket after winning two consecutive victories.
Riding on the success of Epiphany, Foundation Brewing could have stayed in the safe lane of brewing hoppy beers, but instead have created a broad portfolio that includes IPAs, lagers (such as its pilsner, Riverton Flyer, and helles lager, Gemütlichkeit) and farmhouse ales. What has my attention lately, however, is the brewery’s willingness to dive into fruited and sour beers, many of which use fresh fruits to provide a burst of flavor.
While there have been plenty of opportunities to sample limited-release sour or fruited beers from Foundation in the past, they caught my eye at an LGBTQ pride event at Novare Res Bier Café last weekend.
I had decided to attend the event to try a Berliner weisse brewed as a fundraiser for Equality Maine and Pride Portland. Zesty! is a fruited Berliner weisse that is 3 percent alcohol, so it was perfect for the hot afternoon. Grapefruit and blood orange were added to balance the tart beer, providing a fresh and sunny flavor that was juicy and refreshing. I was pleased to learn that despite its limited release status, Zesty! is available for sale in cans, and can be found both in the tasting room and at select beer retailers.
Moving on from there, I tried the “Pride Flight” that included four Foundation beers that were sour or fruited, slightly resembling a beer rainbow when lined up together. The flight included two beers from its Pomology series of beer, named after the scientific study of fruit. Pomology Blueberry is a beautiful purple color and was created by aging a sour ale on wild Maine blueberries. While this is a tad stronger than Zesty! at 6.2 percent alcohol, it doesn’t feel like it, and keeps its tartness and a slight sweetness at the end of each sip.
The Pomology Cherry, on the other hand, is bright red, but less sweet than the blueberry version. This 6.2 percent beer contains sour and sweet varieties of cherries and was refermented in oak barrels. The barrel aging is likely responsible for its additional depth and earthier flavor. But, unlike some other sour beers, this one keeps a bite of tartness on the back end, so it is not overly mellow in its finish. I’d love to see what would happen if Foundation brewed two versions of this in the future – one with the sour and one with the sweet cherries – to see the differences each brings to the bottle.
Next in the lineup was Briar, which is another barrel-aged beer. This time, the sour beer gets the addition of blackberries and raspberries, then goes into oak barrels with some Brettanomyces yeast. Briar is not shy on color either, and it almost glows red in the glass and in the sunlight. Instead of tasting like the fresh fruit, this beer has somewhat of a pie or preserves note, maybe a little like jam or jelly. It is complex without being overwhelming and is different than the typically too tart or too sweet raspberry beers I’ve had in the past.
Last in the lineup was Zuurzing, which skips the fruit but still manages to taste like it has some in it. Zuurzing is brewed with Foundation’s house Belgian yeast strain, but is then soured with Lactobacillus – a bacteria that produces tart and sour flavors. The citrusy hops combined with the Lactobacillus give this beer a fresh citrus zing, and its low alcohol content of 4.5 percent keeps it refreshing and not heavy.
While these beers are all limited releases, they are all packaged and available in the tasting room at Foundation Brewing (as supplies last, of course). If you are curious about these beers, the best place to get them is the brewery, where you can get pours of some of them as well. A trip to Foundation Brewing Co. might be just what you need to celebrate the start of summer with some tart and unique beers.