In our Abstract page outlining our often lofty principles, we declaim our beers to be "unsweetened" and are here to request an exemption for our newest beer: The Iceman Cometh, a riesling icewine faro.
Faros are traditional lambic beers with a misunderstood history. Today, the only universally true aspect of all that is purported to be faro is its characteristic sweetness, in stark contrast to the dryness of authentic lambic beers.
Author Jeff Sparrow, of the book Wild Brews, describes faro as "Essentially a blend of lambic and mars." Without getting too deeply mired in the similarly clouded mars/mais/meerts backstory, suffice it to say that our Berliner Messe beers are designed and named to be a hybrid of Berliner Weisse and Mars/Meerts. Thus, our faro base is comprised of a blend of Jung and Berliner Messe.
According to Brasserie Cantillon, their faro (a personal favorite) consists of:
In lieu of caramel or any type of traditional sugars, The Iceman Cometh receives its sweetness and its name from freshly pressed riesling icewine juice. Icewine is made, quite simply, by leaving the grapes on the vine far too long, in the coldest winegrowing regions of the world: first Germany, and the Alpine countries, now around the Great Lakes in the US and Canada.
What little is left of the grapes after the birds and the deer and the weather and the commercial impulse never to wait quite long enough have reduced the harvest, the grapes are picked in sub-freezing temperatures in the middle of the night, and immediately slow-pressed. It is not uncommon for a winemaker to work 30 hours straight to accomplish this task. The sugars resident in the grapes concentrate in the tiny unfrozen liquid remainder of the grape, and as such, the sugar levels of icewine grapes are roughly double what they would have been during the conventional autumn harvest. Yields are reduced to less than 20%.
Naturally, this human interaction with the extremes of nature have caught the imagination of other than just ourselves. CG Jung, in his Liber Novus, writes:
Fittingly, the "Iceman" of Eugene O'Neill's famous play, is referred to within as "the Iceman of Death" and death is of central importance in nearly all of O'Neill's plays. Eugene O'Neill is of special interest to us, not only as one of eleven or fourteen (depending on how you account for nationality) American Nobel Laureates in Literature, nor because he was possibly expelled from Princeton after throwing "a beer bottle into the window of [then] Professor Woodrow Wilson" but also because of ties to The Sourlands.
If you're inclined, like myself, to look for that house, it isn't there. It was torn down in 1939, the year The Jersey Midlands was published, the year The Iceman Cometh was written.
It still stands in service of the long, storied history of The Sourlands, as do we, as does this beer.