The Referend Bier Blendery: Sour from the Sourlands

According to their website, “the Referend specializes in the production of spontaneously fermented beers, as practiced by ancient cultures and ushered into modernity by the lambic brewers of Belgium’s Pajottenland. ”

It’s located in Hopewell Township NJ, home of the “sourlands,” a geological slice of the Garden State that original settlers called “sorrel land” for its reddish-brown dirt rather than any reference to acidity.  But it’s somehow appropriate that one of the northeast’s foremost blenders of funk would be located here.

Wait a second there…foremost?  In the northeast?  Indeed.  While the New England darlings like Oxbow and Mr. Hill get all the attention and accolades, the offerings coming out of Hopewell NJ rival — and in some cases may even exceed — the best known domestic names in beer funkification.

Jeff, our taster-in-residence of all things spontaneously fermented, weighs in with this report from the road:

The Referend Bier Blendery…these guys are doing things right.  Between them, Suarez Family, and Hudson Valley, NY metro area brewfans need not consistently trek to New England.  Agnus Dei is excellent; it’s refermented with white grapes and bottle conditioned with icewine.

This is not your IPA mill. All farmhouse, spontaneous, lambic, etc.

sanctus from referend bier blendery

After tasting Sanctus pictured above, which is re-fermented with local red grapes (Chambourcin) in port barrels, he says:

Not as sour as Agnus Dei.  Wonderful color and the grape/dark cherry/raspberry comes through.  Finish dry but a bit harsh.   Probably soften with time; this stuff is designed to last for years, and evolve…

Also, when visited, enjoyed the Liber Novus, The Sound and the Fury, and Berliner Messe – Gloria. Go to Untappd for my notes. The one that stood out was Liber Novus.

PS:  These photos…I will have to make sure to use non-descriptive glassware and clean backgrounds in the future.

— Jeff