The Referend Bier Blendery Explores the Wild Side of Brewing

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Some may put James Priest’s beers in the sour category, but sourness isn’t the point.

“We’re pretty obsessed with the process,” says Priest, owner of the Referend Bier Blendery (one of our best 16 breweries), which specializes in lambic-inspired brews. The lambic process, involving spontaneous fermentation and barrel aging, always yields some degree of sourness.

Priest’s fascination with sour beers began nearly eight years ago. “I couldn’t get enough of them,” says Priest, a Chicago native with years of experience at breweries, wineries like Amalthea Cellars in Atco, and bars. His obsession took him to Belgium, where he learned about