As the days grow longer and the air begins to chill, there’s nothing like celebrating that autumnal feeling than with a belly-warming, hand-crafted barrel aged brew. Campio Brewing Co. is kicking off the fall season with the launch of its new Wild Ale series. Since 2019, Campio has earned a reputation for its delectable Detroit Style Deep Dish Pizza, epic downtown patio and, of course, its award-winning craft beer. Campio’s brewing team loves to experiment, with over 16 different draft beers available on tap at any given time. At its core, Campio’s beer is inspired by how yeast interacts with other ingredients in a beer recipe to produce the flavour, aroma, and mouthfeel of the finished beer. Campio is also committed to sourcing local wherever possible, so their Wild Ale series embodies both of these values beautifully.
But what is a “wild ale” and how is it different from your standard beer? The key ingredients you’ll find in every beer are water, malt, hops and yeast – but it’s the yeast component that makes wild ales so unique. “Brewers typically work with pure cultures of a single type of yeast that has been selectively bred to ferment beer with predictable flavour profiles known as brewers yeast. ‘Clean’ beer, as this is sometimes referred to, takes 2-6 weeks to make,” explains Brewery Operations Manager, Teaghan Mayers. “Wild ales, on the other hand, are fermented by many different species of yeast, most of which live in the wood of the barrel where they are aged – ‘wild’ (or natural) yeasts. Although there are certain factors that the brewer can manipulate to encourage a certain result, the final flavour will depend on the types of ‘wild’ microbes in the barrels, how many are present and how they interact with each other over the time that the beer spends ageing in the wood. The result is often unpredictable and occasionally magical! These wild ales often take several years to make from start to finish!”
Wild ales are known for complex and unique flavour profiles with descriptors like funky, barnyard, hay and earthy. And, in many cases, fruit is added to the brew to add further character and dimension. While these may sound unusual, trust us, they’re delicious. “The barrels used in the brewing process also contribute pleasant wood and oak notes to the beer,” says Head Brewer, Brett Geislinger. “All of the barrels we use at Campio are ex-Chianti wine barrels. The previous wine content adds a certain tannic depth and a touch of red fruit character to each beer.”
Each step in the lengthy process of making these wild ales is very hands on. From the small batch brewing process, to handling and caring for the barrels, to sourcing the fruit from local farmers (some of it literally by hand), to each hand-labelled bottle; this is really a labour of love and the team at Campio is very proud of this project. “It showcases what we do best and what we love about this craft,” adds Mayers.
Campio is releasing the first beer in their Wild Ales Series in late October in very limited quantities, with more to come in the following months.