Monday, November 28, 2011

Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof - Brettanomyces Lambicus (Berliner Style Weisse)

Walking around my local craft beer store, a small-funky designed bottle caught my eye. Upon further inspection, I found myself giddy with delight because I had stumbled across an authentic, German-brewed Berliner Weisse; My second favorite style of beer after American/Double Imperial Stouts (Yes, I know its weird). Gasthaus & Gosebrauerei Bayerischer Bahnhof (Gose Brewery) is housed in a reconstructed train station that opened in its home of Leipzig, Germany in 1842 connecting this eastern city to the neighboring city of Altenburg. The Gose Brewery produces a few traditional sour German wheat beers, most notably, their Gose (Berliner Weisse). Gose's Brewmaster, Matthias Richter defines this regional style on their website as a beer with a "refreshing, slightly sour taste and is an excellent thirst quencher. It is brewed with the addition of lactic acid, coriander and salt." The site also explains that specific beers are produced solely for international distribution in the United States, therefore I can infer the Brettanomyces Lambicus Berliner Weisse that I purchased is one of these beers.
This Berliner Weisse is a golden-hazy color with a very light-bubbly head. The head dissipated quickly to one side of the glass creating a boomeranged shaped head; After five minutes the head was gone altogether. One of the beer's most noticable qualities is its extreme carbonation. Looking down on the surface of the beer one can see carbon dioxide bubbles penetrating the surface and popping. 
The aroma of the Brettanomyces Lambicus contains both lemon and lime tartness. Most likely due to the addition of Brettanomyces, a wild yeast, a musty quality adds complexity to the aroma. 
The first sip has an initial wave of lemon tartness that is amazingly sour. Once this sourness recedes, an earthiness (grass or straw) enters into the taste profile. Within this second taste, the Brettanomyces rears its funkiness balancing the finish nicely.
The initial level of carbonation was one of the highest levels that I have observed, and it did not disappoint. The bubbles constantly pricked my tongue all over. The body was light and very refreshing. 
This a delicious sour wheat beer. Given the intensity of the carbonation some people may be put off, but to pack that much flavor into a beer with 3%ABV is truly the work of an skilled brewmaster. (Thanks, Matthias! Keep sending your Leipzig Sour Beers to the United States and they will find their way into my glass.)


Monday, November 21, 2011

Boulevard Brewing Company - Saison Brett

Living in Massachusetts, I often complain to fellow beer friends and my wife that Massachusetts lacks brewpubs that create an authentic beer culture. Although Massachusetts lacks enough brewpubs to create an engrained beer culture (in my opinion), we are blessed to have access to an amazing selection of local, domestic, and international craft beer. A few months ago, this selection grew with the distribution of Boulevard Brewing Company into the bay state area. Found in 1989, Boulevard Brewing Company located in the mid-western city of Kansas City has developed a cult following within the craft beer community. Much of this fawning is focused towards the Smokestack series especially the Saison-Brett.
Saison-Brett has a beautiful golden-straw color with hues of light orange intermixed. The head was very foamy and had great retention leaving very intricate lacings upon the side of my wine glass. As I held the glass against the light, I quickly noticed that the beer was quite cloudy.
This beer has multiple smells. There is a lemon quality with a slight mustiness that reminds me of extremely fresh plucked fruit. Most likely due to the inoculation of the Brettanomyces, but I can't be sure, there is band-aidy or leatheriness characteristic within aroma.
The initial taste of this beer was amazing for two distinctive reasons: SUPER FUNK and expertly balanced hops at the end of the taste. Within this truly intriguing super funk there are subtle complexities of earthiness, lemon citrus and slight peppery notes. One of the most complex beers I have had the opportunity to enjoy.
The mouthfeel is light-to-medium in body with high levels of carbonation. Some people may not like this amount of carbonation, but I loved it. The constant pricks allowed for the subtle complexities to assert themselves in the taste profile.
Saison-Brett is in a league of its own within American saisons. At 8.5% ABV, its alcohol content is high, but is deliciousness is resounding. Due to its high ABV, all you need is one truly amazing pint.
In the words of RandumInk, "It's Stupid Good!".  


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Allagash Brewing Company - Allagash White

There are many notable breweries located in New England, but Allagash Brewing Company is clearly in the upper echelon. Within this elite tier, Allagash has created a portfolio that is based in Belgian beer styles or an American interpretation of these historic styles. Throughout the development of this amazing portfolio, one beer has remained the staple since Rob Tod open the doors in 1995 -  Allagash White
After a very forceful pour, there is a very big, bubbly head that quickly receded and coated the glass. This witbier was straw-yellow in color and very cloudy. 
The aroma wafting from this beer was very bright and inviting. There is a beautiful marriage between lemon and orange notes. As the beer warmed, new fruit esters of pear and apple entered into the smell.
From the first sip to the last mouthful, Allagash White is very flavorful. The flavor profile is dominated by lemon and banana. After the initial banana and lemon notes, pepper notes and faint pear began to appear with the taste adding a very nice complexity. 
As a beer lover of silky or viscous body, I think the mouthfeel of Allagash White is its best quality. The slightly chewiness lead to a medium body with the appropriate amount of carbonation, moderate. 
Allagash White could quite possibly be the best flagship beer in New England. I know some people gravitate to Pretty Things' Jack D'Or or to Smuttynose IPA, but this beer can definitely stand up to any flagship contenders. Its 5%ABV and pleasant taste make Allagash White great for any time throughout the year. 


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Moat Mountain Brewery and Smokehouse - Moat Mountain Brown (Bear Peak Brown)

Last weekend, my wife and I ventured into unknown territory for us, Northern New Hampshire. Located two-and-half hours north of Boston, nestled in the scenic White Mountains is a quaint-small town, North Conway. North Conway is best known for its outlet shopping, Settler's Green, however the food culture is what deserves the most praise and Moat Mountain Brewery and Smokehouse is at the heart of the under appreciated food culture. Situated at the base of a snow-capped mountain, a beautiful yellow colonial style home houses this purveyor of delicious beer and barbeque. A very welcoming hostess and wait staff allow the customer to feel instantly at ease. This comfort was present in the attentiveness and knowledge of our server who, based on my questioning, lead me to a wonderful dry stout. At the end of the meal, in which a california burger was completely devoured, Em and I decided to take a growler of the Moat Mountain Brown (she had a pint during lunch) back to Boston.
Once the pour is complete and the beer settles one characteristic of this beer instantly jumps out, its clarity. It is probably this clearest brown ale I have come across, which is saying a lot because Em is the brown ale guru. The Moat Brown is a dark-hued brown with subtle red highlighting and a very small-thin head.
The aroma from this beer is full of sweet caramel. This caramel is expertly balanced with the nuttiness of a traditional English ale. Although faint, there is a slight powdered-chocolate note completing a truly intoxicating aroma.
The first sip of this beer is every bit as good as the last. The taste is full of caramel and nutty quality that mimics the nose. Mixed in with these traditional English ale tastes are a welcomed toastiness and a burnt sugar quality. All these tastes combine with a refined hoppiness for a long lasting taste that is refreshing and welcoming.
The mouthfeel of this beer is spot on; the viscosity reveals a medium body with a slight chewiness. The carbonation is held in check leading to a very smooth, but somewhat dry finish.
At 5.5% ABV and tasting absolutely delicious, the Moat Mountain Brown is one of the best session beers that I have tasted. I appreciate the expertise the went into creating a truly authentic English-style ale. I look forward to our next journey to the White Mountains, Settler's Green, and the hidden gem in the New England beer scene, Moat Mountain Brewery and Smokehouse.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Mystic Brewery - Mystic Saison (Batch 2)

Over the past year, Massachusetts has seen the openings of numerous breweries: Backlash Beer CompanyJack's Abby Brewing CompanySomerville Brewing CompanyBlatant BreweryIdle Hands Craft Ales, and the brewery that is rethinking the functionality of yeast, Mystic Brewery. Situated in Chelsea on the Island End Inlet of the Mystic River, Mystic Brewery is fermenting a very interesting saison that has, and will go through, differing fermenting techniques. The first batch of this saison was extremely boozy and acidic leading to an unpleasant experience. The second batch, which is being reviewed here, was fermented at a lower temperature changing the profile of this beer (more to follow later). Currently, the brewmasters at Mystic are barrel-aging their saison and refermenting it in the bottle with a wine yeast strain.
Ah the innovation and craftmanship of craft brewers.........
Batch number two of the Mystic Saison poured a rustic, hazy orange, which was much darker than I was expecting. I was a expecting the straw color of Dupont or Fantome because of the amount of buzz that followed the fermentation of this beer. I now know this presumption of an authentically colored saison was widely distorted. A big fluffy, airy head pillowed instantaneously, but quickly lowered leaving a one-finger head.
The aroma that flows from this saison is very peppery. Along with this spiciness, there is a definite acidic  quality that has been harnessed from batch one. Finally, the yeast has contributed a very nice pear accent to the spiciness.
As was expected, this saison had an intense yeasty spiciness. The spiciness was complemented very nicely by the same pear notes in the nose. As the beer warmed and the carbonation receded, these pear notes came to the forefront of the taste, which I really enjoyed. Also, there is an earthiness to this beer that comes through as a pastoral hay/straw quality.
The feel is light and extremely carbonated, which I enjoyed. The taste was very short, dry, and didn't linger. Probably not the best beer for the late fall, but excellent for a hot summer day.
Although batch two is far superior to batch one, I found myself consistently wanting to like this more as I kept drinking, but I couldn't. I think the acidity was overwhelming, dominating the flavor profile. It left me lingering for a fruit complexity. With all that being said, I anticipate the shelving of the sauvignon blanc barrel-aged version of this local saison. Hopefully the aging process and the addition of the wine yeast strain will subdue the acidity and add minor oak and tannin characteristics leading to a very complex product.


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

A Wedding and Beer Weekend in Atlanta, GA

Since I have entered in the world of craft beer, I look forward to every trip Emily and I take to the beautiful southern city, Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta's beer culture is very similar the culture that is found in Boston. Neither city is home to an abundance of in-state breweries, but many of those that have settled in their respective locals are well-respected and innovative breweries: Cambridge Brewing CompanyPretty Things Beer and Ale Project, and The Boston Beer Company in Boston and Sweet Water BreweryThe Wrecking Bar, and The Terrapin Brewing Company in Atlanta. Both Atlanta and Boston are home to chain breweries, Boston Beer Works and John Harvard's Brewhouse in MA and 5 Seasons Brewing Company in GA and amazing craft beer stores Craft Beer Cellar in Boston and Hop City in Atlanta.
Upon my arrival late Thursday, my amazing wife had a cold pint waiting in the fridge, Saint Somewhere Brewing Company's, Lectio Divina. It was a amber-hued ale with a bubbly white head. It was much more tart than was expected, which was a great way to finish a long day of work and traveling.
For lunch on Friday, my father-in-law, step-mother-in-law and I ventured to yuppie-ville, Alpharetta, GA to sample pints from 5 Seasons Brewing. I started with Tabla Saison. The beer poured light red in color with a minimal head. The beer produced a delightful aroma, full of fruity esters dominated by pear and wild berries. The taste was full of a bright fruitiness that was very refreshing on a warm Atlanta afternoon. I followed this saison with their Fresh Hop Ale. After conversing with the server, I found out that the brewmaster has fresh Chinook hops flown in overnight for the mash the following morning. The aroma from the sample was very piney and fresh, which is definitely due to the addition of the wet hops. The taste, however, was very heavy and sluggish lowering its appeal and drinkability.
After finishing up at lunch, my father-in-law and I ventured to the all encompassing liquor store, Total Wine. The beer selection is extensive, but lacks in organization. Due to this disarray on the shelves, I usually find a hidden gem and this visit was no exception. On the top shelf, hidden behind some bottles, and completely isolated from the American IPA section, I found the highly renowned, Jai Alai IPA from Cigar City Brewing. The was IPA is epitome of balance between malts and hops. The initial taste is very malty, but this maltiness gives way to a hop explosion in the back end of the taste. Very rarely will I say this about a beer, but this beer definitely lived up to the hype and was exceptional.
The wedding weekend was a beautiful celebration of the love between Yvonne and Todd. And just as their love is blossoming, so is mine toward the wanders Atlanta beer culture. As Emily and I continue to venture south, I look forward to numerous adventures that we will take both touristy and beery.