Could boxed beer become the next thing for craft breweries?

Jelisa Castrodale

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A decade ago, boxed wines still had the stigma of being your sad aunt’s weeknight drink of choice and canned beers were just for the most obnoxious of Bluto Blutarsky wannabes. But those perceptions have changed, as Wine Spectator has awarded high marks to both boxed and (gasp!) canned wines, and craft brewers have turned the humble can into something equally esteemed. But boxed beer, served in and poured from a plastic bag? That’s something we haven’t seen very often – at least not on this side of the Atlantic.

Primitive Beer, a brand new blending facility and taproom in Longwood, Colorado, will be serving its lambic-style ales in pitchers – or in boxed plastic bags. Owners Brandon and Lisa Boldt told Westword that they believe that their new spot is the first in the United States to sell beer in a bag. “This is definitely an experiment,” Brandon said.

But why? Because of the style of beer. These are based on Belgium’s lambic and gueuze beers, which are brewed in open vats to promote “spontaneous fermentation.” That means exactly what you think it does: brewers don’t add yeast at any point during the fermentation process, because wild yeasts and bacteria are allowed to make themselves at home.

It’s then aged for between nine months and three years, and the end result is a beer with a taste often described with the word “funky.” The Kitchn says that the difference between a lambic and other styles of beer is similar to the difference between a loaf of bread made with commercial yeast and one made with a sourdough starter. (The process might mimic that of a Belgian lambic but, in an effort not to appropriate that terminology, these American versions are known as “Methode Traditionnelle” beers).

Many lambics and their Methode Traditionnelle counterparts are fermented with fruit, and Primitive’s brews are no exception: they’ll be serving variations that were aged with plums, peaches, cherries and double-the-cherries. Regardless of the variety, all of them will be sold in 1.5 liter bags-in-wooden boxes – because that’s how these funky, non-carbonated beers are sold in Belgium.

“We've chosen this format for our initial releases to emphasize to consumers that our young beers (just over a year old) are purposefully still (little to no carbonation), to pay homage to contemporary Belgian blenderies that package Lambic in this format, and for the reduced carbon footprint as compared to glass,” Primitive wrote on Instagram.

If you want to try these brews, you’ll have to plan ahead. Right now, Primitive will only be open the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, from noon until 10 p.m. At least it’ll be easy to carry those boxes to your car.

Jelisa Castrodale

About Jelisa Castrodale

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