New Braunfels TX, home of the Schlitterbahn, Wurstfest, Naeglin’s Bakery and of course the tubing capital of Central Texas – not the place you’d necessarily expect to find some of the most exciting spontaneous fermentation sour beers in the region, but that’s exactly what the New Braunfels Brewing Co are all about. This is a style that is growing in popularity in the region, which is great news for me personally as I’m a total sucker for sherbert-sharp, mouth-fizzing, yeast-forward complex sours, and on both our visits to NBBC we’ve been utterly enamoured of their delightfully experimental offerings.
Situated in the heart of old New Braunfels, just a few hundred yards from the bustle of the Comal River’s tubing hot-spot, the NBBC taproom is blissfully serene, cool and rustic with a smooth wooden interior offering a glimpse through to the tanks and barrels where the magic happens. Working primarily with wheat beers, wild yeasts and cultures and a variety of local ingredients including loquat fruit, local honey, lemongrass, pecans and coffee, as well as Texas wine, NBBC aren’t afraid to break rules and push boundaries. Techniques of secondary and bottle fermentation are employed to achieve the desired flavour and texture, as well as aging in one or more barrel varieties – an excellent example being the liquid heaven that is their Self-Medication Black Sour Wheat Ale aged in port and bourbon barrels – a five star beer if ever there was one. Other particularly impressive brews we’ve tried include the Cosmic Dancer, a sweet, dark sour Bock aged in wine barrels, the beautiful, bright Saison De Figure De Barbarie brewed with local prickly pear and their famed PKL FKR, made with so much dill pickle juice you may be in for a shock!
Not only do NBBC offer flights at a most reasonable $10 for four 4oz pours, they have also taken the most pleasing step of offering ‘bottle flights’ of four 4oz pours from a selection of their bottled beers for $11 – if only more breweries did this! Needless to say we had to have one of each flight variety and had a great time chatting away with NBBC bartender extraordinaire Nick, who was not only kind enough to remember us from our previous visit but is a fountain of knowledge on all things beer-related and super fun to chat with – we hope to catch up again soon!
Whether you’re in New Braunfels to float on the rivers, hit up all things German or are just passing through on a Hill Country tour, be sure to visit NBBC. Even if you think you don’t like sour beers, the array of flavours and ingredients are worth exploring to find your poison, and they do also have a few more straightforward brews. And if you’re a spontaneous-ferment-head, miss out at your peril!