This Brewery Is Reviving Mozart's Favorite Summer Beer in Colorado
In an era where once-forgotten beer styles like gose and gruit are practically old hat to craft beer connoisseurs, and over 8,000 breweries are constantly churning out new creations across the country, it can be easy to assume that every beer style on Earth has been recreated by some small brewer. But the history of beer dates back centuries, so inevitably, some historical brews have fallen through the commercial cracks.
Denver, Colorado’s Seedstock Brewery says they’ve found one—a style of beer that apparently hasn’t been produced in over 100 years and may never have been brewed in the United States before. It’s an Austrian style called “horner bier” (or “horner beer” if you prefer), and Seedstock will be releasing it for the first time this weekend. And, oh yeah, it’s also supposedly one of Mozart’s favorite brews.
What makes horner bier so unique? According to Seedstock, unlike the majority of beers that are mostly made from barley, horner is produced entirely with oat malt. Oats—along with wheat—have become a popular addition for producing trendy New England or hazy IPAs, but 100 percent oat beers are extremely rare. (I believe I’ve only drunk one in my life and I write about beer for a living.) Additionally, cream of tartar is added to the wort “to get a slightly sour and refreshing flavor,” Seedstock explains.
Finally, this old-school brew got a major name drop from one of the biggest musicians of all-time (literally). “The horner beer, invented in Vienna in 1750, was called out in Mozart's ‘Bei der Hitz im Sommer ess ich’ canon, naming the horner as the drink of summer,” Seedstock states. Turns out Mozart may have been more of an “influencer” than we realized.
“[Horner bier is] kind of a sweeter, citrusy beer, not quite a lemon [flavor], but it leans that direction, but the sweetness of the oat almost gives it a malty feel,” Seedstock head brewer Jason Abbott told writer Evan Rail in a recent story for Vinepair. Rail is a self-described “Old World brewing” obsessive and has been on the hunt for the elusive horner bier for some time. “It is so different. It’s super dry. It definitely has the appearance that it’s going to be very full-bodied, but it finishes quite dry…. It’s very interesting, but also very drinkable. I wouldn’t call it ‘sour.’ To me it’s sort of a sweeter acidity that comes through.”
Seedstock will be releasing “a very limited number” of 22-ounce bottles of the 3 percent ABV brew with nearly champagne-like carbonation this Friday. These “Small Stash Horner Beer 22oz Bombers” are currently available for presale online. And though this initial batch is only a half-barrel test (so probably no more than 90 bottles worth), Abbot told Vinepair that if things go well, he may try a larger seven-barrel batch in the future.