Actually, it's a whole lotta Brett, but I guess we thought the The Dead fit better than Zeppelin.
Anyway, one of the first five bottles we are releasing at the party on August 20, is a 100% Brettanomyces fermented Saison (a type of Farmhouse Ale) that was aged in French oak barrels that once held Pinot Noir from a great California winery. After aging, we dry hopped it with Citra hops and packaged it in 500 mL bottles and finished with a cork and cage to be sold at that event and to our mailing list in advance. But let's back up.
Brett, short for the yeast strain Brettanomyces is sometimes called a wild yeast, as it is found readily in the air around us and is often hard to truly 'tame.' Known for being a voracious consumer of sugars, Brett could wreak havoc in a traditional brewery, when not desired, by drying out beers, over-carbonating packaged beer and possibly producing unwanted flavors. At many wineries, barrels are tossed out the window if found to contain Brettanomyces. However, in many of the original breweries, Brett was a common part of many beers, due to the inability to prevent it. Today, it is mainly the Lambic brewers of Belgium (and their inspired-by-Belgian, American Brewers) that still use Brettanomyces as a part of their flavor profiles.
Alesong Brewing and Blending is very much inspired by the rustic farmhouse breweries of yesteryear and will be welcoming a touch of Brett in many beers we make. For the truly dedicated "Brett Head", go here to dig deeper into this amazing single celled organism.
Brettanomyces Lambicus, the strain we chose to ferment this beer, is one of a handful of strains available to brewers. Many flavors and aromas are attributed to Brettanomyces fermentation. Some of them include cherry pie, tropical fruit, hay, leathery, earthy, sweaty horse/barnyard, medicinal, smoky, or cheesy. While some of those don't sound great, trust me and Embrace the Funk! It just works. When using Brett in primary fermentation, as we did here, many of the flavors and aromas that come out are tropical fruit and citrus, such as pineapple, orange and grapefruit. We found Touch of Brett to have some of those orange and grapefruit like flavors with maybe a little mango and pineapple for good measure. After several months in the oak barrels we knew that Citra hops would be a great complement to this beer.
To my palate, Touch of Brett has a big orange zest aroma and a medium grapefruit flavor. Some of the earthy and spicy characteristics come through in the flavor. The beer is bone dry, and crisp as the Brett has eaten all the sugars but still retains a 'juicy' sort of flavor. The oak tannins from the barrel complement the flavors from the yeast and hops. It will continue to metabolize some of the elements found in the beer and the flavors will evolve some over time if you choose to store it in a cool, dark and dry place. (I highly recommend you buy some bottles to drink now and maybe save a few for that special holiday dinner at the end of the year.)
Please join us on August 20th and try a sample for yourself and head over to our "beers" page for more of the technical details on this beer. We hope you like this dry hopped, Brett fermented farmhouse ale as much as we do.
And as hard as launching this barrel focused brewery has been, I'll leave you with sage motivation from Jerry himself: "I will get by / I will survive / Every Silver Lining's got a Touch of [Brett]".