Saturday, January 24, 2009

Brett, and no doubt about it

So that's what Brett tastes like. One has to ask the question who in their right mind would add this wild yeast to their beer on purpose. The boys at Mikkeller have, but anybody familiar with the way these guys operate will not find this unusual. I was lucky enough to have the Mikkeller experience in Copenhagen at the European Beer Festival, which is where I picked up this bottle of It's Alight. As I said, a Brettanomyces strain was purposely added to this beer and the Brett character is clearly evident - its presence affects every aspect of the beer. It smells funky as hell, does not retain any kind of foam, and thanks to bottle conditioning is highly carbonated and almost painful to drink such is the level of fizz. All of this can be placed squarely at the feet of the wild yeast because it produces any number of pungent flavour compounds that the more familiar Saccharomyces cerevisiae do not indulge in. Also, the Brett has no problem chomping through the longer, more complex sugars that more traditional brewing strains leave alone to pad out the beer. Despite the pungent yeast flavours the hops do make a showing providing quite a kick of bitterness and a little zest. It is reminiscent of Orval in many ways, mainly with respect to the aggressive hopping, very high carbonation and a quenching dry finish, but at a modest 4.5% abv it'll make short work indeed of a dry throat and give a refreshing kick along the way.


Tim said...

Sounds disgusting. Like Orval.

Kieran Haslett-Moore said...

I love Brett. Used wisely in the right beer it can be sublime.

Harvey's Imperial Stout would jump to mind.

Thom said...

Wisely is the word.

At this sort of level it is hard to deal with, but the dryness the yeast brings to the beer is rather nice.