Thursday, May 30, 2013

564. Brewery Vivant and New Belgium Lips of Faith Biere de Garde

So we’ve got both a collaboration beer and a Lips of Faith beer, all in one bottle. Did I also mention it is a biere de garde? Which, while not precisely a saison, is pretty much saison’s kissing cousin. Throw some chickens on the label, and this beer becomes downright irresistible, even before it gets opened. Who can fight that much confluence of goodness? Certainly not this crowd. While we’ve never had a beer from Brewery Vivant, if New Belgium says nice things about them, that’s good enough for us. And New Belgium? They’re pretty much golden around our way. We could chiggity-check the books for backing, but we’ll let this one stand on its own.

Lips of Faith Biere de Garde pours a clear, bright golden straw: with the long lasting white head, lacing, and profuse bubbles, it’s like liquid sunshine in a glass. The nose is juicy ripe fruit and citrus with pear and apple hints; there is a bit of husky malt hidden behind the yeast character followed by just the slightest hint of tartness, although that may be more of the yeast fruitiness. As it opens up, there is some creamy mustiness that borders on earthiness—you know, your usual Belgian rusticity in a glass. Flavors start sweet although the beer is very dry as a whole—the residual Pilsner candy sweetness gives way to fruit and a touch of bitterness in the middle, although the malt is in charge. In the finish, there are hints of lemon zest and dry cracker along with an impression of nuttiness. There is also some alcohol flavor and warmth, which increases as the beer warms, although so too does the juicy yeast character. The initial mouthfeel is creamy and dry; as it warms, the creaminess remains, but the dryness gives way to alcohol warmth and a slight sharpness in the back of the throat. While this is an enjoyable and certainly well-made beer, it could use better balance between the size and the flavors: as it warms, the subtlety starts to fade and the residual sweetness turns towards stickiness, and the juxtaposition between the dryness of the beer and the gumminess in the mouthfeel becomes uneven. Coupled with the increasing alcohol presence, this disjunction detracts from the overall impression of the beer—it comes across currently as almost a young and brash tripel. Part of this may stem from the style; Biere de Gardes are intended to age, and some of the rougher edges might disappear with time, but, well, we’re drinking it now. Still, something certainly worth trying—the quality is there, it is just young and rough around the edges. Sorry, we just couldn’t resist the sweet siren song of a new Lips of Faith beer any longer. You know y’all been there before, haven’t you? 

From the bottle: “Famous in Michigan for their Farmhouse Ales, our friends at Brewery Vivant introduced us to their Biere de Garde ale yeast strain. From there, we imagined a slightly tart, intentionally  dry beer with hints of bergamot citrus that pairs perfectly with French cheeses.”

ABV: 9.0%


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Rockit Cup Rye Pale Ale Brewday

Ah, Rockit Cup,why are you so delightful? I mean, besides the fact that you bring beer into my life. Any who, here it is, this month’s delightful installment, almost four weeks ahead of when I need it. It’s like a Christmas miracle in late May, the kind that everyone loves. Oh, and Chris Wyatt, there is a secret surprise below for you.

146. Rockit Cup Rye Pale Ale
7 ½ lbs. Breiss 2-row
2 lbs. Breiss Rye
¾ lb. Breiss Crystal 20 L
¼ lb. Breiss Carapils
¼ lb. Breiss White Wheat

Mash @ 150° F for 60 minutes w/ 3 gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 1 ¾  gallons @ 1.080
Batch sparge @ 168° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 gallons @ 1.034

Collected 5 ¾ gallons; added ¾ gallons RO water, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/45 to go: ½ oz. Columbus leaf 13.0% AA

w/30 to go: ½ oz. Cascade leaf 7.7% AA

w/10 to go: 1 oz. Cascade leaf 7.7% AA

w/5 to go: 1 oz. Columbus leaf 13.0% AA

Let stand for 20 minutes, chilled, and pitched Wyeast 1056 (You get that, Wyatt? I cheated!)

Brewed: 5/18/2013
Secondary: 6/3/2013 @ 1.010; dry hopped with 1 ½ oz. Columbus leaf 13.0% AA & ½ oz. Cascade leaf 7.7% AA

OG: 1.054
FG: 1.010
Tasting Notes (8/10/2013): So I almost drank all of this before I got around to typing notes up on it (this is my last deuce deuce), which is not surprising given that this is a delicious and very drinkable beer—this is what I would call another Rockit Cup success. While 
Guess who grabbed
the wrong cap?
it is not as fresh and chewy as it was during the first month, it still maintains all of the others hallmarks of a delicious and drinkable beer. The beer pours a hazy tan copper with a mousse-y white head that refuses to leave, while the nose is a pungent spicy evergreen followed by herbal citrus that it almost minty. Flavors start with spicy rye followed by a hint of caramel sweetness before the herbal and evergreen hop flavors flex their muscles—the spicy resin hop flavors offer a pleasant transition in conjunction with the rye spiciness in the front before heading into the dank and herbal pine finish that features just a hint of lingering mintiness. The mouthfeel is chewy and rounded, and while the carbonation is a bit high—it borders on spritzy—the carbonic bite helps in the finish to offer a definitive closure to things. The herbal and minty hop characteristics also remind me of Millenium, albeit in a bit more aggressive form here. Still, this beer s a solid and drinkable pleasure—nice work, Travis!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Brett Also Brewday

More is better, right? Time to add to the growing fun that has become my-now-long-term Brettanomyces experiment. Warmer weather is leading to active fermentations: as with the second run of custersianus, the 100/ECY04 version is currently trying to add a permanent contribution to my house character.

145. Brett Also
4 lbs. MFB Special Aromatic
4 lbs. Weyermann Pilsen
2 lbs. Breiss White Wheat
1 lb. Acidulated Malt

Mash @ 150° F for 90 minutes w/ 3 ½ gallons of RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 2 ¼ gallons @ 1.084
Batch sparge @ 173° F for 20 minutes w/ 4 gallons RO water & 2 g. gypsum; collected 4 gallons @ 1.024

Collected 6 ¼ gallons; added 1 ¼ gallons RO water, brought to a boil (60 minutes), & added:
w/60 to go: 1 ¼ oz. Comet leaf 11.0% AA 

w/5 to go: 1 oz. Comet leaf 11.0% AA

Let stand for 20 minutes, chilled, and racked onto:
145a. yeast cake of 136e. Wyeast 5526 Brettanomyces lambicus plus 3 Hungarian house toast oak cubes
Brewed: 5/10/2013

145b. yeast cake of 138a. batch 100 wild raspberry/ECY04 combination plus 3 Hungarian house toast oak cubes
Brewed: 5/10/2013

OG: 1.050 @ 73° F; dropped to 68° F over first 8 hours

Tasting Notes:

Sunday, May 5, 2013

563. The Bruery Rueuze

Another beer from the Bruery, the place that continues to taunt me with membership opportunities not available to those living outside of California. And yes, that makes the Bruery a tease. A dirty, dirty tease. Although if you wanted to sign me up in secret, I promise never to tell. Hint hint. Any-whoo, this is another to add to the list of Bruery beers that I compromised my morals to obtain, which includes: 5 Golden Rings, Marrón Acidifié (a collabo with Cigar City), Autumn Maple, Humulus Session, 3 French Hens, Saison de Lente, RugbrødHottenroth, Orchard White and Saison Rue.

Rueuze pours a crystal clear gold with a thin white head that disappears well-nigh instantly, although the small, consistent stream of small bubbles keep a thin ring on the glass—very thin. It is bright and luminescent, throwing plenty of golden highlights in the light refracted through the beer. The nose is musty earth, oak, tartness, and vinegar pretty much in that order. Flavors start with citric lemon-y tartness and a slight doughy softness from the malt, moving into oak mixed with an acetic tang in the middle—the two play off each other nicely on the tongue. The finish is tart and puckery with some residual sweetness returning after the initial bite. While the carbonation comes across as a bit low, the beer remains active in the glass, although the tartness provides more mouthfeel than the carbonation. In a similar manner, the dry body does have some residual sweetness lurking in the background. Thus, Rueuze is simultaneously soft and bright on the palate—soft from the light malt and body, but bright via the lactic and acetic tang, both of which are exacerbated by the gentle tannic oak bite. The dryness and tartness are in competition with the acetic flavors and softness: each is vying for the upper hand, but neither really takes control. While it could a bit more snap in the finish, it is nonetheless an interesting and enjoyable beer, one that is (or in this case, was) a good contender for further aging. The last pour was the best; the touch of yeast heightened the lemon-y tartness and rounded the whole of the beer. As it warmed, Rueuze hit that gueuze tang and bright bite that the first two-thirds of the bottle were missing—I was left with the small rosettes of bright flush on my cheeks that tell me I’ve found the tart sweet spot. Our final comments are summed up by the picture below: if the yeast culture produces anything even in the ballpark of this one, we’re all winners here.

From the bottle: “Our take on a gueuze-style ale, this intensely tart and funky beer combines three different vintages of our barrel aged sour blonde ale.”

From the Bruery website: “Rueuze is our take on the traditional Belgian-style blend of lambics of different ages. We carefully select a number of oak barrels from our warehouse that have been aging our sour blonde ale for various lengths of time and blend them to what we think is the ideal flavor. this is one complex beer.  Notes of hay, barnyard funk, apricots, and even olives play wonderfully with the balanced acidity.”

ABV: 5.9%

And here is my attempt to give this beer more life in order to add it to the various other concoctions existing in my domicile.