The Wild At Heart

Over two years ago when heralded Brooklyn brewery Other Half opened a location in East Bloomfield, the brewery sold a tantalizing vision of a wild ale utopia.

The brewery even initially hired one of the founding fathers of American wild ales, Eric Salazar, to lead the initiative. That relationship didn’t pan out, and Salazar now serves as the director of wood-aged beers at Strangebird Brewing on Marshall Street. For many beer nerds itching for mixed culture marvels at Other Half FLX, it felt like a non-starter of a project.

“People thought there was some sort of a delay, but we actually never stopped making these beers,” said Felipe Higgins, head brewer at Other Half FLX. “We’ve had a lot of barrels going at any given time, and we actually built the program to over 100 different barrels.

This weekend, Other Half is officially launching In Bloom, a new wild ale series featuring the brewery’s own house culture blend. The first beer in the series, Saperavi, is an 8.6 percent beer conditioned on Saperavi grape pomace!the pulp leftover after you squeeze out the juice. The vibrant purple brew has been conditioning in French oak barrels since the summer of 2019.

The culture of the beer, or the blend of microbes which ultimately turn malty sugar water to beer, was collected from right here in the Finger Lakes. The goal is to capture the completely unique essence of the region.

“90 percent of the cultures we’re using in our beer are wild caught,” Higgins said. “Pears from our property, wild honey, wild flowers, black caps…that’s really the heart and soul of our project, we’re brewing something we couldn’t get from mixed culture in a lab.”

Other Half FLX’s first wild ale release was Another Day in Paradise earlier this year, but In Bloom marks the beginning of a full-fledged program for the brewery. Higgins is excited to offer something patently and inimically Finger Lakes at Other Half.

“These are products are truly unique, and we’re offering something unique to our customers,” Higgins said.

The In Bloom launch party will take place Saturday starting at 10 a.m. The brewery will also be featuring wild ales from Toronto’s Bellwoods, Poughkeepsie’s Plan Bee, Buffalo’s Common Roots, Capitola, California’s Sante Adairius Rustic Ales, and Hector’s Pantomime Mixtures.

Word to the wise, the tequila-barrel aged “Anejo” from Pantomime is a must-try.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or

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