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Try this Wild Heaven beer made from century-old pear trees
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Wild Heaven Beer's Born of Benevolence sour ale. - photo by Nick Bowman

There’s nothing I enjoy more than having my perception of craft beer completely obliterated, then reforged.

Born of Benevolence from Wild Heaven Beer offers a delicate brew that borderlines a crisp, dry white wine, kind of like sauvignon blanc. 

Born of Benevolence 

Brewery: Wild Heaven Beer

Alcohol by volume: 6.5%

Style: Wild pear sour ale

Bottom line: A dry pear brew reminiscent of white wine

It’s slightly tart and produces notes of pear and grape. The color of the beer is a beautiful light honey hue, reminiscent of cider or unfiltered white wine. I had to check the cans multiple times to make sure that I was actually drinking beer. 

What’s most remarkable about this beer is the fruit used to make it. The pears in the beer came from pear trees that were producing fruit before World War I. 

Eric Johnson, brewmaster at Wild Heaven, said he was inspired to incorporate these heirloom pears into a beer after chatting with Garrett Arnold, the brewery’s chief operations officer. 

Arnold’s family owns a farm in Benevolence, Georgia, full of century-old pear trees. 

“They’ve been on the farm for as long as anyone remembers,” Johnson said. “Garrett’s great-grandparents planted them.”

Arnold and a couple of other hands set to work, harvesting hundreds of pounds of heirloom pears. 

Johnson said the pears were added in the late stage of fermentation to grow microflora on the skins of the pears. The base of the beer was made to taste dry from brettanomyces yeast, then the brewery let the pears do the rest of the work. 

“More often than not, yeast and bacteria on the skins of pear is well adapted to eating all of the new fructose that’s in the pears,” Johnson said. “With this beer, you get a great essence of pear. Pear is a super delicate flavor, and it’s hard to nail it using raw fruit.”

Johnson, who is a horticulturalist, said he suspects that the Arnold family’s pears were used to make perry, also known as pear cider. Since the family planted more than one tree, he said it didn’t make sense for them to use the trees simply to eat the fruit. 

“There was no way to preserve (raw) fruit back then, and the best way to preserve apples and pears is to make cider or pear wine,” Johnson said. 

Johnson sort of revived the spirit of the traditional perry by putting the fruit to use in his beer.

If you’re eager to try this beautiful beer with an interesting origins story, you can pick up a pack at your local beer shop or by visiting one of Wild Heavens locations: 135 Maple St. in Avondale Estates or 1020 White St. SW in Atlanta.  

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