Introducing Big Mood—a new wild child conceived by Firestone Walker’s Barrelworks brewing facility in collaboration with Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, co-fermented with Hollister apricots and Santa Ynez Valley white wine grapes.
Big Mood represents an effort to combine and celebrate two mutual specialties—the wine-beer hybrids of Barrelworks; and the apricot-infused expertise of Sante Adairius, which is most notably evident in their popular West Ashley barrel-aged saison.
Driven by Master Blender Jim Crooks’ admiration for the beers and people of Sante Adairius, including co-founders Adair Paterno and Tim Clifford, who have created one of the nation’s most revered wild beer programs at their brewery in Capitola, California.
“They execute at a very high level, and they have a house yeast character that is always evident, which I really appreciate in a project like this,” Jim says.
“They understand the distinction between barrel-aged beers versus quick-turn sour beers, and like us they are willing to put in the time.”
We had an opportunity to sit down and chat with Jim, Adair, and Tim to discuss this exciting new collaboration.
Adair: “The first meeting was probably in 2013 when Jim was just getting the program started. We were pretty young and he came up to meet us, but we have been in contact throughout the years. I always stopped by Barrelworks when driving up and down the coast. We have built a relationship and its always been about mutual respect for each other.”
Jim: “My recollection is they were making some of the best sour beer I’d had on the West Coast – some of the cleaner sour beers that I’ve ever tasted. One of the early, early Firestone beer festivals I walked up to Tim and he poured a beer for me, and we just had an equal admiration for some of the beers we each made. I think that was the beginnings of an idea of doing something together. The next year I remember walking up to Tim and saying, hey – lets actually make this happen.”
BLENDING & SHARING YEAST
Tim: “When we came down there (to Barrelworks) Jim’s process was very thoughtful. We brought down bottles of finished beer, and we were blending (both brewery’s beers together). Once we came up with a base that we were happy with collectively from Barrelworks, then we just imagined what the marriage would be. We blended to create a balance in ratios. And then you know – best laid plans. You have something that’s a finished prototype, and how do you get there. That all fell on Jim.”
The Sante Adairius yeast character, in fact, plays a starring role in Big Mood, as Jim imported their renowned yeast culture into Barrelworks to produce the beer.
Jim: “I wanted people to taste something they could readily identify as ‘Sante Adairius. This proprietary yeast culture is truly a physical piece of their brewery, and I was really excited to work with it.”
Tim: “Our mixed culture of yeast, we don’t give it to anybody, and it was added to this collaboration. This was the first time we’ve ever given it out.”
Jim: “I’m always enamored by anybody who’s willing to give away their secrets. That’s the biggest thing. I mean, that’s what collaborations are. It’s breaking down the barriers and showing your behind the curtain ‘mojo’ – and Tim & Adair did this. It’s a handshake, they have a lot of trust in what we are doing.”
The Sante Adairius yeast was used to ferment 2,000 pounds of Blenheim variety apricots sourced from their supplier in Hollister, California—enough to fill 50 oak barrels of beer, which underwent six months of aging. This beer was then blended with a special selection of Barrelworks wine-hybrid barrels dating back to 2017.
Adair: “The apricots came from San Benito County, and the wine grapes from Santa Barbara County. We were really trying to blend not just our styles, but the agriculture from both regions. I think drinkers – and eaters – everybody who cares about what goes into their mouth, finds that important.”
The result of this collaboration is Big Mood, a beer that blazes its own trail with luscious stone fruit flavors and elegant vinous maturity.
Jim: “The wine hybrid side of this beer is really dry and refined in flavor, then you add that real fleshy, juicy, ripe part of the apricot and you get this amazing balance. It’s reminiscent of an apricot mimosa—it’s one of the most delicious and flamboyant beers we’ve ever made.”
A BIG MOOD
Tim: “Beyond just this beer, literally and figuratively, it’s also just a sign of respect from our brewery to Firestone Walker. Working so closely with Jim was a real honor.”
Adair: “We have a lot of respect for Firestone and Barrelworks- just generally, this was a great learning experience for us.”
Jim: “For me, it’s not just a collaboration, but a lifelong friendship – what every collaboration you do should be – because it’s the people you share intimacy with. Whether it be your secrets, your recipes, your ‘sour yeast magic’, it’s an intimate knowledge. And it just helps build the enigma of both of our breweries in the future. It takes a lot of heart. It’s kind of a mystical way of saying what I feel about good beer: it’s a Big Mood.”
Individual 375ml bottles of Big Mood are now available on our webstore for $8.99, shipping from our brewery to California residents only.
Available in our three California brew stores starting Thursday, Sept. 3 and available on draft nationally in the coming weeks, limited quantity. Use the beer finder to locate Big Mood closest to you.