City’s First All-Sour Brewery and Taproom Now Open
As local craft breweries multiply, some may think the market is becoming oversaturated. But, for Josh Martinez of Pretentious Barrel House, it’s just getting started. Martinez and partial partner Luis Gutierrez opened the brewery earlier this month, introducing the first all-sour beer production facility and taproom to the area.
Martinez, originally from San Diego, had a firsthand look at just how niche the beer market could become. Roughly 115 craft breweries have thrived in the city, with many taking up and mastering a specific product.
“Some guys, they’d make lagers, and then other guys, they’d make just IPAs, and it just kind of went from there,” Martinez said. “You just found something you were good at, that you enjoyed doing, and you hit that mark. I expect that to start happening here pretty soon.”
He’s kicked it off, starting with four versions of his Truculent sour beer. The process begins with brewer’s wort (sugar water), produced by Four String Brewing Company based on Martinez’ specifications. Four String’s large facility was built for contract brewing. It produces three batches of this wort every day, and Pretentious gets one of them.
With the limited space in the Pretentious building, it makes sense for both brewers. Four String gets easy money, and Martinez gets to save half a million dollars by not having a brewhouse on-site.
Once the wort is home, Pretentious brewers ferment and barrel it. From that batch, Martinez can create different versions of his beer based on the flavor profiles he prioritizes. The original Truculent has been modified so far into Citra, Centennial, and Ginger & Lime Zest varieties, each with their own levels of fruits, hops and acidity.
Come November, more varieties will be available including a Mango Truculent and a Raspberry Red.
“I’m just really trying to get people on board with drinking sour beer and also noticing how big of a category sour beer is,” he said, “because people are like, ‘Oh you’re only doing that?’ and I’m like, there’s a lot of stuff you can do with sour beer.”
Sours are becoming more popular on each of the coasts, he said, and it’s a trend he’s watching grow here. Sour beer fans will likely see some Pretentious brews on tap at a few local bars before the week is out, including Growl! in Clintonville. Martinez is working on increasing local distribution to get the name and brand out further.
Pretentious Barrel House can be found at 745 Taylor Ave. They’re open Thursday, from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday, from 4 to 10 p.m., Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, from 2 to 8 p.m.
For more information, visit pretentiousbarrelhouse.com.