Friday, January 25, 2013

Brettanomyces


Funky Brett and the Ancient Yeast!


Bottle of Saison Rue

Beer Reviewed: Saison Rue
Style: Belgian/French-style Farmhouse Ale
Brewery: The Bruery

Discovery


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.

Bottle and Glass of Saison Rue

The Beer


Beer characteristics

Quantitative parameters of beer character

  1. 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.
  2. Alcohol content is 8.5% alc/vol, which is a little high, but the alcohol isn’t that noticeable.
  3. 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

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The mouthfeel is bright and lively. The citrus and effervescence make you immediately take notice and reflect on what you’re drinking.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Recommendation


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!

- Enthusiast