One of the first things you’ll notice about this beer is the sleek jet black bottle. One of the first things you’ll wonder about is the name, Bonanza Theater, so let’s cover that first. Wellspent, which opened on March 2, 2018, is located in a beautiful, century-old building that was home to a movie theater a hundred years ago. There is still some evidence of the old movie theater at this new brewery. When you walk in, you’ll still find the marquees, fully restored to their former glory.
“It opened in 1907 and was called the Bonanza Theatre,” said Kyle Kohlmorgen, owner of Wellspent Brewing.
Where the theater’s balcony was, is now where the tanks are.
The actually found pieces of the balcony when they bought the building so they don’t think it was a whole lot of anything from when the movie theater closed till now.
Right now, the bread and butter at this brewery is beer with lower alcohol content. For example, the house Saison is 3.5%.
“I like the challenge of brewing a beer that has same alcohol by volume as a Bud Light or something but has a lot of more flavor,” he said.
Bonanza Theatre, the beer, is the first bottle release for Wellspent and is the first beer, at least the first full-size batch, they have released that contain their house cultures.
“I’ve been curating and maintaining wild mixed cultures as well as Brettanomyces cultures for several years, and eventually these cultures will be prevalent in our saisons as well as our barrel-aged sour beers,” said Kohlmorgen. “Bonanza Theatre is a sneak-peek at what is to come for Wellspent.”
This beer was fermented with the house saison yeast. After fermentation, they inoculated the batch with one of Kohlmorgen’s Brettanomycess cultures and allowed it to condition for another 10 weeks in stainless. Bonanza is also lightly dry-hopped, using America Citra and the aged hops, Aramis.
On the pour, the beer is effervescent, soft and pillowy with a dry finish. It is blond with a white, stiff foam and ever-so-slight haze.
On the nose, you’ll get aromas of overripe mango and straw with hints of vanilla, biscuits and cracked-black pepper.
On the tongue, you’ll get flavors of freshly-zested orange and mango with a very slight minerality.
“Over time, I expect the beer will become drier, and the character of our Brettanomyces will continue to develop,” said Kohlmorgen.
Brewer Dave Daues, said the largest struggle was just waiting. Because the Brettanomyces take time to develop flavors by consuming sugar. “Then, it easily took another 3 to 5 weeks to bottle condition the beer, which means the adding of extra yeast and sugar.” This style of bottle conditioning is considered more traditional compared to force carbonating the beer using CO2.
“It’s very time consuming,” said Daues. “Because we’re small, we also hand bottled, hand labeled and hand capped each of the 600 bottles made, but we think the results are better.”
They chose a very sleek, matte-black 500 mL bottle as their primary packaging. The label was created by Beau Sholders of New Scar Design.
“Overall, I’m super proud of this beer,” said Kohlmorgen. “The delicate and delicious profile, the unique packaging, and the supreme drinkability showcase our style perfectly.”
Though they may not make this beer again in the future, it is a good preview into what Wellspent is working on, and how they are starting to incorporate Brettanomyces and their cultures into all their saisons, dialing in texture and drinkability, and creating a saison that is both traditional and unique to Wellspent.
“We’ve already incorporated the same Brettanomyces strain into our House Saison recipe, which will be available sometime in late January,” said Kohlmorgen.
We can also expect some of their barrel-aged saisons (sour and non-sour) to emerge in early 2019.