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Beer Review #288 Brux

04-24-03I held off on buying this beer for some time. The local beer store had a number them sitting on the shelf for some time and I had a hunch that they would go on sale. Well they did (for $2 off) and I finally mustered the courage to buy one. Still cost $16 but that’s my limit for a 750 ml. Brux is brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and, according to the bottle, this beer is “a dry and complex Belgian-style ale refermented in the bottle with Brettanomyces bruxellensis.” While the beer may have been brewed by Sierra Nevada, it’s actually a collaboration between them and Russian River. Sierra Nevada seems to be doing a lot of collaborating recently.

Brux pours a light orange color. It is hazy and has a slightly off-white head. The nose is sour/tart with a bit of a sharpness to it. There are some light bready malt notes but not much else to be found. It smells like the Lego candies that I used to get from the corner grocery store when I was a kid (Google it if you’re not sure what I’m talking about because you missed out).

On the first taste I was actually struck more by the carbonation than anything else. This beer is highly carbonated and the bubbles attack the front of your tongue. Once I got past the assault, I got into the sourness. UnlikeĀ  a lot of sour beers, this one is sour from start to finish, or what I wrote down as a “fill sourness.” There are some grassy notes mixed in there but the sourness dominates.A little funk is in there along with some peppery notes to boot.

This is an interesting beer. I would love to try it in a few years when the Brett has a chance to work its magic fully. One final note, this beer is a sneaky. It comes in at 8.3% but tastes nothing like that. I was shocked at how I felt after my first glass. I’ll get my hands on another bottle at some point in the future but for now, I have other beers that I want to try. (more…)

Beer Review #266 Lips of Faith Tart Lychee

01-30-03I received this bottle as a Christmas present from my father-in-law. He has the outstanding quality of finding something that I have been secretly wanting to try. Tart Lychee is brewed by New Belgium Brewing Company. The screen printed bottle says that it is”56% ale aged in oak and 44% ale brewed with lychee and cinnamon.” This beer comes in at 7.5% and is part of their Lips of Faith Series of beers. I’ve had a number of beers from this series and my favorite has been Kick. I’m generally not a fan of cinnamon with pumpkin beers being the exception. Something about things flavored with cinnamon just doesn’t agree with me.

Tart Lychee pours a pale golden color. There is a slight haze at first that turns into a full haze by the end as the dregs of the bottle come into play. It pours with a thick white head that lasts for a long period of time.The nose is decidedly sour, not a bug shocker considering the beer has the work tart in its title. There is a nice little twinge in the nose as well. I can’t describe it fully, but it starts as a light malt that rapidly evolves into increasing sourness. It is a different version of sour than I got on the first whiff.

One thing I noticed when I opened the bottle is how loud the “pssssh” was when I cracked the cap. I’m sure the high carbonation that the sound is indicative of is the reason behind the large, lasting head. Before I tasted anything on this beer, the carbonation went crazy in my mouth. It almost has a champagne feel to it. Once I got over the carbonation I found a pleasant sweetness that was quickly followed by a good tart flavor. There is a very slight spice in there, but it didn’t contribute to the flavor in any big way. This beer not only feels like champagne, it tastes like it. And it’s the good stuff.

I really dig this beer. It’s wonderfully sour and properly balanced. The carbonation helps dry the beer out to an acceptable level. I had to reread the label a few times after trying this one as I couldn’t believe that it was 7.5%. This is one sneaky, delicious beer. Sour beers have really been growing on me and this is a good one. (more…)

Beer Review #258 Rapture

01-08-03I have a super beer for today’s review. For that I am sorry. Rapture comes from Weyerbacher Brewing Company out of Easton, PA. The beer is an American Wild Ale and was fermented and aged 18 months entirely inĀ  pinot noir wine barrels. As a note of comparison, most beers that use barrels are aged in barrels, not fermented in them. It’s an interesting story and it must have been a pain in the ass to do.

Rapture pours a nice ruby brown. It is perfectly clear until the dregs at the bottom start getting mixed in. It has a nice light tan head that slowly collapses on itself. The nose is packed with sour smells. There is a light oak wood odor, but a winey sour flavor really dominate the nose on this one.

The taste is tart, but not anywhere near as tart as the nose suggests. It is a very clean tartness that flows nicely from front to back. There are lots of berry fruits that compliment the sour flavor. There are also notes of cherry and wine in there. Rapture dries out quite well at the end and cleans up well.

This is a very nice, drinkable sour beer. Being that it’s so rare, it’s hard to judge the beer properly without getting a little excited. I can tell you that it’s not the best sour that I have ever had, but for a wild ale that is made entirely in barrels, it has a hell of a story. I would be happy to have this one again. (more…)

Want some funk

I’ve brewed a whole lot so far this year and I have done something that I have never done before; brew a lager. I’m three lagers deep currently with plans for one more before my basement starts warming up to above lager temperatures. Other than lagers I have been wanted to try brewing a sour beer for some time. I know that it is a time consuming process that can take years and blending different versions of the beer and all of that, but I still want to do it. My current problem is that I don’t have the fermenter space for it and I would need to dedicate one to just funky beers from now on.

My buddy Mike has been wanted to do a sour for some time as well so I think we are going to brew together at some point and pump one out. He sent me a text today talking about aging in a wine barrel. Since we don’t have the combined capacity to brew that much beer I suggested taking the oak chips that he uses in his wine making and dumping them into our future sour. Now we just need to plan out the beer and decide on what we want to brew. Has anyone out there brewed a sour before and/or do they have any suggestions or resources on brewing sour beers?