Friday, September 27, 2013

573. Chris Wyatt’s English Sour Brown Something-Or-Other

Chris described this beer as an English Brown Ale fermented with Fuller’s yeast to which he added Roeselare, and let age for seven months. For someone
This look says it all,
doesn't it?
normally so attached to style—and British style at that—this is an interesting departure. For example, just today he was complaining about the “dreadful” nature of American 2-row. So the combination of British and Belgian seems, from my perspective, worth noting. Hence my naming of the beer. Mixing and matching styles, Chris? For shame! I will also admit to some Schadenfreude contemplating the struggle Chris went through to let this beer age as long as he did. After all, while I can’t speak definitively about his character, when it comes to aging beer, Chris Wyatt is not a patient man. So in Chris Wyatt years, seven months is like four decades or something. Sorry, I couldn’t find the right app to make the exact calculations, and had to do it by hand.

English Sour Brown Something-Or-Other pours a rustic orange copper with a thin wispy white head that is ephemeral at best. Still, there is active carbonation, with small, tiny bubbles streaming up the sides of the glass. In the nose, there is brown malt, graininess, cereal (like Cheerios), and a hint of lactic acid, followed by an earthy mustiness mixed with dark stone fruit aromatics—cherries and figs, mainly. The latter part kind of reminds me of the smell of my grandparents’ house from my childhood. I also get a hint of something spicy verging on adhesive in the background—the ol’ classic dirty band-aid coming to the party. The beer opens with malt, specifically cereal and bread dough flavors, and a slight vinous fruit slickness that gives the beer a thin feel on the palate. It brightens and sharpens as it runs into the middle, with a combined light lactic tang and a brettanomyces gaminess to it—it is just short of funky. There is more fruit in the middle, albeit a more rounded, brighter fruitiness that pairs well with the wild yeast flavors. This leads to a bright candy lactic twang in the finish (which I like), followed by some grain huskiness and astringency that lingers, along with flavors from the darker grains (which I don’t like). The initial thin mouthfeel gives way to more substance in the second half of the beer, and the lactic bite makes up for the minimal carbonation—it provides the bite and crispness the beer needs to finish effectively. The lingering graininess and astringency gums up an otherwise enjoyable beer—the dark grain flavors don’t sit well with some of the other components of the beer, giving a sharper, rough edge to the slight acetic acid flavors that linger longest on the palate. The strengths of the beer—its soft subtlety of Flanders Red/Oud Bruin characteristics—are counteracted by the stronger, more overpowering finish. You should try this beer again, Chris, but cut the chocolate and roast malt (is there biscuit malt as well?) and replace it with something like dark Munich or Special B to give the beer a softer malt profile that will better balance the finish. Or, in other words, keep it subtle, but make the malt bill more Belgian.

From one of Chris’s rambling Facebook posts: “Lactic and funky with nice body and no bitterness.”


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