Funky Brett and the Ancient Yeast!
Beer Reviewed: Saison Rue
Style: Belgian/French-style Farmhouse Ale
Brewery: The Bruery
OK, so if you had told me when I was younger, and by younger I mean a scant few months back, that I would be selecting a brew to review based on the yeast that was used, I would call bullshit on that. I would also think only a giant douche would do such a thing.
So here we are. As I dive deeper into the vagaries of the beer blogging universe, I find myself doing something I wouldn’t have previously considered, but now am really excited about. I guess that’s part of the allure of blogging and beer drinking and that is learning and tasting new experiences in interesting or unexpected places.
This blog post is centered around a creature that is new to me, but as old and as wild as Nick Nolte on a bender. This creature is a yeast named Brettanomyces, and it is a cousin of the domesticated yeasts.
I came to learn about this yeast, let’s call him Brett, through an article by Daniel Fromson in the New York Times, and I was fascinated by the idea of using an ingredient that is unpredictable and has the potential to make your entire batch taste like shit. I generally shy away from beer that can be described as having a ‘Funky’ taste, but that’s usually due to dirty taps, bad storage and low quality pond water.
As I was stocking up on my previously reviewed selection of beers from Ommegang while at my favorite store, Wegmans, I saw this offering from The Bruery that indicated the inclusion of the wild beast and I had to try it.
Again, playing with the space/time continuum, everything written above was prior to me opening the bottle, so hopefully you can infer the excitement I’m feeling. This feeling is not dissimilar to when you open a bathroom door and hope that the previous occupant didn’t just leave you the gift of an eye watering odor.
Quantitative parameters of beer character
- The suspect IBU rating is a 30, but The Hitchens Taste Scale puts this around a +3. I think the IBU is a little high because of the hoppy flavor, but it isn’t as bitter as I would’ve expected from a 30 IBU.
- Alcohol content is 8.5% alc/vol, which is a little high, but the alcohol isn’t that noticeable.
- The color is a golden honey with moderate cloudiness.Referring to the SRM, this would be comparable to a Double IPA or a Biere de Garde at a 13 on Lovibond.
Qualitative parameters of beer character
- The aroma has a slight citrus flavor and I also pick up a slight spice, but it’s a little more complex than others I’ve smelled. It’s not really a spice flavor, but I might call it a toasted orange
- Primary flavor is an extension of the toasted orange aroma. The hops are stronger and I’m starting to get the enjoyment of Ole Brett.
- The aftertaste is the lingering hoppy flavor that settles back in your nose. There is a little something left on the tongue, but it’s subtle. Not to be disgusting, but the burp was more fruity and orange than hoppy.
- The mouthfeel is bright and lively. The citrus and effervescence make you immediately take notice and reflect on what you’re drinking.
- Considerable carbonation in the glass demonstrated with a very strong head and very active effervescence in the glass. The picture shows the impressive head, although I also did a lousy job of pouring.
- Temperature should be cold. I think if it warms up the alcohol may become more present, which to me would be a negative, so keep it chilled.
This is a very interesting tasting beer, but to be honest, based on the article I referenced above, I was expecting something more extreme. I enjoyed this beer, and would like to try others from The Bruery, but I will also be keeping a lookout for other beers that use Brettanomyces to see if they kept their wild yeast caged. Give it a try and let me know your thoughts!