All About Beer Magazine - Volume 35, Issue 5
September 15, 2014 By Staff
Damian Fagan Jesse Friedman
Damian Fagan (left) and Jesse Friedman of Almanac Beer Co. Photo by Sean Buchan.

Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan

Almanac Beer Co. has been turning out some of Northern California’s most interesting craft beers since 2010, but it seems as though the brewery really made its big splash onto the scene at the 2013 Great American Beer Festival. Co-owners Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan brought the latest experiments from their “Farm to Barrel Series”: barrel-aged beers that highlight specialty produce from local farmers. (How about a wild ale with Swanton Berry Farm strawberries and Crimson Baby nectarines from Blossom Bluff Farms, aged in white wine barrels for 12 months?)

“We want to create beers infused with the terroir of California,” explains Friedman. “Beer and food made with ingredients from the same soil have a natural affinity for each other.”

In addition to getting what they believe to be some of the choicest produce in the world, the duo take great pride in how they purchase it, often driving out personally to pick up the order straight from the field. “Running a small family farm must be the hardest business in the world,” Friedman says. “That’s why we often negotiate our prices up for farmers; we want to encourage economic sustainability as well, not just environmental sustainability.”

Fagan and Friedman—who met through a homebrew club—recently announced that they’d be releasing a new barrel-aged beer each month, with an emphasis on sour ales. Their warehouse in San Jose, CA, now lays claim to over 1,000 wine and spirits barrels plus two 1,000-gallon oak vats called foeders. One of the latest treats to come from their cooperage is the second release of their delectable Heirloom Pumpkin Barleywine, made with pumpkins from nearby La Tercera Farm and aged in a blend of brandy  and rye whiskey barrels.

This profile appears in the November 2014 issue of All About Beer MagazineClick here for a free trial of our next issue.

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