Culture Project Two by Fulton Beer

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Upper Midwest isn’t wine country, but that hasn’t stopped locals from producing spirituous beverages of real depth and complexity that pair wonderfully with all manner of food. The medium is beer rather than wine, but that’s no limitation. As it turns out, beer can be sculpted into flavors every bit as challenging and enjoyable as those possessed by their grape-based cousins.

Fulton‘s Culture Project is a series of beers created by mixed culture fermentation (which is to say aging with multiple types of microorganisms over a period of time). Culture Project Two is a golden ale with a primary fermentation in stainless steel tanks utilizing Saccharomyces followed by a nearly two-year stay in oak barrels with Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and Brettanomyces. These long, complicated, Latinate words for microfauna add up to one simple English term of note: complexity.
Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

We bought a bottle of Culture Project Two at Elevated for $20, so it’s not really a one-for-one with traditional beer as much as it is a competitor with good wine. Given this price, purchasers would be right to demand a multilayered flavor profile, and they will feel rewarded by what they receive in the glass. Culture Project Two is spicy, funky, and complex with real acidity held in balance by woody and earthy notes and even some resinous and tannic flavors that put it on par with many better white wines. In terms of pairing, a salad with earthy notes (goat cheese, or nuts) would be an immediate match, and this beer would likely do wonderful things for fish that swam within its complicated waters. There’s a sour aspect to this beer, but it’s subdued and in balance. We’ve encountered a number of sour beers that are oppressively aggressive, and Culture Project Two is, by contrast, mellow and well-rounded.

In terms of price and pretense, Culture Project Two punches in a heavyweight class for local brew. Fortunately for all involved, it follows through on its promise.

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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