Before plunging too deeply into the existential profundity of The Emptiness Is Eternal, it should be noted that Tired Hands Brewing Co.'s "Emptiness" series of barrel-aged seasonal fruit saisons takes its name from a spoof lyric from the ultimate rock-and-roll spoof pic, This is Spinal Tap.
In brewing as in music, a wicked sense of self-deprecating humor is priceless. But judging from the 45 minutes it took the Ardmore brewery to sell its last 500-bottle edition (the grape-fermented Back Into the Emptiness), these beers are no joke. And brewer Jean Broillet IV is serious when he says "meditative beers like this are so much more about not doing stuff." No wonder he has time to paint those watercolor labels, too!
It simply takes intuition and patience (about three months) for his base saison ale to take on the souring, dry-spice effect of the brettanomyces yeast living in the old Chaddsford wine barrels. Then an additional four months for it to harmonize with the addition of Tired Hands' fresh house saison and the native field yeast living on the added fruit from Tom Culton's Lancaster farm. This month's Eternal version uses Culton's Hachiya persimmons (more than a pound per gallon!), and the finished brew is an ethereal imprint of that fall fruit captured at maximum ripeness, riding a swirling beam of lip-smacking existential beer tartness. If you want to know why this upstart Ardmore brewery has gotten national notice, this is a good example.
But be forewarned: with only 400 bottles of The Emptiness Is Eternal to go on sale at the brew-café at noon Sunday, demand is eternal, too.
- Craig LaBan
The Emptiness Is Eternal, $16 a half-liter bottle, Tired Hands Brewing Co., 16 Ardmore Ave., Ardmore, 610-896-7621; www.tiredhands.com