Brewers aren’t bashful about playing in winemakers’ sandbox. They’ve infused IPAs with Syrah must, seasoned saisons in Chardonnay casks and fermented beer with Champagne yeast. Now, they’ve filled brewhouses with massive wine-aging vats called foudres (pronounced FOOD-ers).
Traditionally, some winemakers (especially those in France’s Rhône Valley) have favored the colossal wooden containers that impart less oak flavor because of their large surface area. For beer makers, though, foudres are storehouses for cultivated colonies of Brettanomyces yeast and souring bacteria. The vessels allow brewers to make bigger batches, so they can craft more consistent wild creations, drawing off fermented liquid and refilling with fresh beer as needed.