Fleak Out!

The Denver Flea is a unique market committed to elevating creative business in Denver and changing the way people think of a flea market. In conjunction with New Belgium and some fantastic luck and timing, we were invited to brew a pilot batch for the four Denver Flea events this year.

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A few weeks ago, my beeriest, breweriest, yeastiest dreams came true. We were invited to create a beer recipe with Lauren Salazar, “Specialty Brand Manager & Wood Cellar Blender”at New Belgium.

For 45 minutes we discussed everything from final color and alcohol content to what mouthfeel and aroma the beer should have. It was glorious.

Fleak Out!

Fleak Out!

And we got to discuss the name. Which, without question, was “Fleak Out!”

My initial demands for the beer were as follows:

  • The beer must be accessible to all who might try it, but exciting enough for the geeks to enjoy it as well.
  • The beer must be ready on April 17th, but have the shelf life to still taste good in December.

“Oh, shit,” or something similar, was Lauren’s response to these demands. And then a lightbulb turned on across the phone, and Lauren asked “How do you feel about Brettanomyces?” The head of New Belgium’s sour program just pitched me on Brettanomyces.

Brettanomyces, or Brett as we affectionately refer to this yeast, is something that brewers use to produce some very interesting, very unique characteristics in a beer. Brettanomyces can create both lactic and acetic acids, with some aromatic side effects such as horse blanket, leather, or other barnyard smells. Brett also eats sugars, slowly over time, that other yeasts can’t handle.

While most yeast strains do their job in a matter of days to weeks, Brett takes its time, working magic over months. Generally, a tasting schedule for a beer with Brett is at one, three, six, and nine months after adding. We brewed Fleak Out! March 23, and it just so happens that the 2015 Denver Flea schedule includes events in April, June, September, and December.

Perfect timing. The Brett will change the characteristics of Fleak Out!, creating a four-season beer in one brew day. At each of the four tappings, the beer will taste considerably different.

Fleak Out! is a wild ale. No other category can really handle this beer. The malt bill is relatively standard, with normal base malts, C-80, and Munich, and wheat and oat for some nice texture. It’s hopped with Cascade, Centennial, and Nugget, and dry hopped with Galaxy. An American Hefeweizen yeast does the initial work, then some apricot juice and blood orange peel is added. And then in goes the Brett.

Brew day

Brew day


At the first tasting this coming Friday, fresh hops and a fruity Belgian yeast flavor will be the most present. Perfect for a spring beer! Down the road as summer comes in hot, the hops will mellow a bit and the fruit and esters will shine. Come harvest season and Denver Flea in September, the grains take the stage, and the fruit starts to come back through the Brettanomyces. Expect some pineapple flavors in September! And finally, the last kegs of Fleak Out! in December will show much higher wild notes. The horse blanket will keep you warm.

Discussing Fleak Out!

Discussing Fleak Out!

Get your first taste of Fleak Out! this Friday, April 17, 6-10pm at The Denver Flea Kick-Off party. This is a limited-access view of all the vendors, and there’s open bar. Tickets are $25 online, and $30 day of. Saturday, April 18th, Denver Flea is open to the public from noon to 7pm. More details at denverflea.com.

The Imbibe and Denver Flea crew at New Belgium's pilot brewery

The Imbibe and Denver Flea crew at New Belgium’s pilot brewery

About PJ Hoberman

PJ likes beer. A lot. And whiskey. Gin. Wine. Cocktails. Um.. what were we talking about?