2013 Juliet (Goose Island Brewing Company)

Style: American Wild Ale aged in wine barrels with blackberries

8.0% ABV

15 IBU’s

Hops: Pilgrim

Malt: Pale, Rye, Munich, Rye Flake

Brewer’s Note: “Fermented with wild yeasts and aged in wine barrels with blackberries, Juliet is a tart, fruity, complex ale. Notes of wood, tannin, dark fruit and spice make Juliet an ideal beer to suggest to Pinot Noir enthusiasts and beer drinkers who are fond of Belgian sour ales.”

The beer’s label is simple and elegant, though the shiny matted material does make the label seem a bit more industrial than the old, paper-based labels of Goose Island. I like the ‘wax’ on the neck, and I like the goose silhouette on the neck. Clutter is relatively in check, though I do wish the beer’s name and the style were a placed a little further apart as they do seem a little cramped to me. The label is nice in the end. Keep it, scrap book it, it’s up to you.

The beer pours a rich, pale purple with an amber flair. It sits in the glass as a rich, rose color with a small head of off-white bubbles that quickly leaves. In body, the beer is a deep, colorful murk with a definite opacity to it. When splashed against the sides of the glass it leaves a receding tide of lacing. On the nose, this thing is richly acidic with tart lemon, rich blackberry, blueberry, and even fresh and antiseptic mint. On a second sniff I receive rich, lightly toasted oak, soft malt vinegar, and smooth caramel malt. As I sniff more and more, I do get a sense of chlorine and pool house air, which isn’t completely off-putting, but is odd. On the tongue, this beer is hugely vinous with rich acidity that blossoms into sweet fruit, very faint salinity, and the briefest kiss of herbal bitters. The finish is rich with oak tannin, sweet fruit, and soft acidity. In flavor, this beer is delicately beautiful. It begins as a rich tide of lime and lemon citrus that erupts into rich berry notes mixing strawberry, blackberry, and blueberry. This is then ballooned outwards by a rich, lightly roasted oak and soft earthy characters. The finish returns to bright citrus that blends the berry and oak into a long and fruit-forward finish. In the mouth, the beer feels on the plus side of medium with a rich, jam-like mouthfeel that gives a lovely bristle of fruit skin. Carbonation is soft but gives a nice sparkle and snap to the sip that keeps the beer from feeling heavy or syrupy. The mouth is left slightly wet and sticky from saliva. As I drink more and more the beer does become a little syrupy and left the tongue feeling a little heavy. The tannins add a touch of astringency that really helps with balancing out the syrupy sweetness. Overall, this beer is impeccably balanced. The syrupy sweetness does win out as you drink more and more of it, but it is never tiring to sip and the rich, subtle complexity in flavor makes it quite enjoyable. Goose Island must have a hell of cellar, and their blender’s tongue must be really refined because this beer is miles ahead of many of the other American Wild Ales. Haters be damned, Goose Island has still got it, and it is very good.

(Tilted photos are the best…)

Valentino (Night Shift Brewing)

Style: Single-Barrel Wild Rye Ale

8.5% ABV

From: Everett, MA

Bottled On: 2/7/14

Brewer’s Note: “Valentino is the celebration of our love for beautiful beer. Aged in a single brandy barrel for 17 months, he won our hearts and palates as a favorite amongst the brewery’s large barrel collection. He sips dry and tart, with rich, lingering notes of sour cherry, rye spice, and sweet, oaky brandy. Share him now, or sit him down for a future Valentine.”

The beer pours a rich, caramelized amber, sitting in the glass a deep ruby. A small scrim of light tan bubbles form with little to no retention. The beer’s body is hazy in the light, with slight cloudiness and very little of the other side of the glass coming through. On the nose, the beer smells richly complex, moving from malt vinegar, to light cherry pie and fruit leather, to richly complex oaken vanilla, to chocolate. As it opens, there even are hints of rum soaked raisins, subtle green apple and apple skins. The nose is not overpowering but is hugely complex. Bravo Night Shift. On the tongue, the beer tastes fruity sweet and fruity sour with a lovely tannic finish that dries out the sip a bit and adds nice structure. Slight acetone and solvent notes are also present (perhaps from the brandy barrel?), but are kept in check, adding further complexity. In flavor, the beer tastes of oak-filled sweet and sour sauce, in a good way… As it closes, the beer brings rich vanilla, oak, cherry pie, and a touch of hot solvent. Splashes of rich cherry syrup, and a bready woodiness also cross the middle and end of the sip. The aftertaste is slightly sticky sweet with soft tannic wood, as well as nice vanilla tinged oak. In the mouth, the beer feels medium in body, with a gelling syrupy mouthfeel, and soft carbonation. The acidity definitely gives a bit of a pucker and prickle to the mouth, and the tannic wood adds a touch of astringency that grips the mouth a bit too much. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left slightly astringent with a syrupy sweetness in the middle of the tongue. Overall, this is a richly complex and decadent oak aged wild ale. The solvent flavors are unfortunate, and I do wish I got more of a brandy character from the barrels, instead of just a touch of alcoholic heat. This is a great offering from Night Shift, and is probably the best non-American Weisse sour/wild ale that I’ve had from them. A rich and complex ale that already offers enough sourness and pucker for even the hardest of mouths. I hope they release more variants of this.

Revisting: 2012 Expedition Stout (Bell’s Brewery)

Style: American Russian Imperial Stout

10.5% ABV

O.G.: 1.11

Bottled On: 10/22/12

From: Kalamazoo, MI

Brewer’s Note: “One of the earliest examples of the Russian Imperial Stout in the United States, Expedition Stout offers immensely complex flavors crafted specifically with vintage aging in mind, as its profile will continue to mature and develop over the years. A huge malt body is matched to a heady blend of chocolate, dark fruits, and other aromas. Intensely bitter in its early months, the flavors will slowly meld and grow in depth as the beer ages.”

My first review of this beer may be found here. With another year of age on it the beer still pours like thick and gloopy motor oil with a thin scrim of very fine, sand colored bubbles that fade into just a ring around the glass. The beer is opaque to the eye, impenetrable to the senses, and all around mysterious. When splashed against the sides of the glass it produces smooth legs of alcohol. On the nose, the beer still smells distinctly quad-like, with definite chocolate-covered raisin scents. It actually smells like a potent raisinet, if that makes sense. Beneath the raisinet scent is sherry, gentle coffee, and even more dark fruit notes. The roast coffee and dark chocolate seem to have blended into the rich dark fruit scents and added subtler nuances. The booze in the nose is still there, but it too has blended into the beer’s decadent scent, giving us hints of rum-soaked raisinets. As the beer warms, musty cellar and earth work their way into the nose, as well as softer milk chocolate scents. On the tongue, the beer tastes lovely. Decadent sweet bread and chocolate notes tread down into a rich bitter finish of char and roast, as well as a soft tingle of acidity. The middle of the sip even treads on an earthy, minerally flavor briefly, which is just lovely. In flavor, the beer begins with milk chocolate, dark bread, and subtle raisins. This moves into rich minerally flavors of cellar must, salt, and even slight graphite. The finish, much as it was a year ago, is bruising with bitter roast and char, although it is dampened by rich milk chocolate. The aftertaste is of char and must, giving a light fire to the throat to suggest the alcohol that has been nonexistent in the rest of the sip. In the mouth, the beer is still full bodied but has stepped off a slightly; it is sultry, smooth, silky, and without even a prickle of carbonation on the tongue. The beer leaves the mouth slightly dry and smoky with char, but begging for further sips. Overall, Expedition has become even more decadent with age. The soft raisin flavors have melded into other things in the taste, but are all the rage in the nose. Milk chocolate flavors have bloomed, and an earthy minerality has developed as the beer oxidized. This is a richly complex beer that opens up as it sits, and really gives the tongue an exercise in taste appraisal. While the rest of my aged stouts have shown harsher hints of oxidation, this one has incorporated the oxidation beautifully, and could honestly use even further aging to ease the heavy roast and char notes that make up the finish. This was a success from the Beer in my Belly (should I start calling it BimB?) cellar! Huzzah. If you are lucky enough to live in Bell’s distribution network then I would highly advise cellaring one of these, as it is very forgiving and can handle varying environments well. For all the rest of us, we should make a journey into Bell’s distribution pattern during the winter just to snag a couple of these beauties.

Cascadian Schwarzbier (Jack’s Abby Brewing)

Style: Hoppy Schwarzbier

7.0% ABV

70 IBU’s

OG: 16.5 Plato

From: Framingham, MA

image

The beer pours a deep, chocolaty brown with a massive head of creamy, sand colored bubbles. The head sits two finger’s widths above the glass with a nice lasting retention and a puzzle grid of thin lacing. On the nose, the beer smells delicately of roasted coffee beans and damp pine forests. Smooth dark chocolate works its way into the nose alongside musty earth and subtle dankness. The balance on the nose between hops and malt is quite nice and intriguing. As I sniff for longer I start to sense oranges dipped in chocolate, which is quite inviting. On the tongue, the beer tastes bitter with roast and hoppy bitters. The finish brings a splash of sweet chocolate and bready malts, and a pop of citric acidity also lingers in the finish. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet citrus lemon, quickly falling into bitter pine resin and decadently toasted bread. This then begins to blend roasted coffee and espresso bean flavors through rich dark chocolate. Subtle grass and herbal hops work their way into the finish alongside a beautiful burp of milk chocolate and toasted oatmeal bread. The aftertaste is of moderately bitter pine resin, which sticks to the roof of the mouth. In the mouth as a whole, the beer feels on the light side of medium in body with a middling carbonation and a crisp, snappy mouthfeel that provides nice drinkability and scrubs away some of the heavier roast and bitter flavors. After the beer leaves, the mouth is left with slight spittle in the cheeks, soft bitter burn down the middle of the tongue, and a sticky resinous feel on the roof of the mouth. Overall, this is a beautifully balanced hoppy lager. Terrific pine and roasted malts tango on the tongue in a way that I very much appreciate. The closest thing to compare this to would be an American Black Ale, but this beer is miles ahead of that style in terms of balance. This could please a hop head and a roasted malt lover at the same time. Another superb beer from Jack’s Abby.

Fort Point Pale Ale (Trillium Brewing Company)

Style: American Pale Ale

6.5% ABV

Malt: American 2 row, Dextrine Malt, Wheat

Hops: Columbus, Citra

Yeast: House Ale

From: Boston, MA

Brewer’s Note: “Layers of hops-derived aromas and flavors of citrus zest and tropical fruit rest on a pleasing malt backbone in our Fort Point Pale Ale. Dangerously drinkable with a dry finish and soft mouthfeel from wheat. Our year round hoppy pale ale culminates in a restrained bitterness and dry finish”

The beer pours a pale, greenish yellow with a nice, quarter finger’s width head of eggshell-white bubbles. In body, the beer is clear and clean with a slight chill haze, but no visible particles and a nice lazy carbonation. On the nose, the beer is a beautiful bouquet of Citra hops. Mango and tropical fruit blend with spicy pine needles, pine resin, and a just a faint whiff of cattiness. On the tongue, the beer tastes bitter, yet balanced by cracker smooth malt sweetness. Soft citric acidity snaps at the start and finish of the sip, providing nice, yet drinkable complexity. In flavor, the beer begins as lemon juice and pine, slowly unfurling into pine and tropical juice with a nice balancing cracker malt and light prickly, light pineapple flavors. The finish is a crisp burst of juicy fruit, cracker malt, and lime zest, and the aftertaste is soft and tame, ringing with bitter medicine, pine, and citrus. In the mouth, the beer feels crisp and on the light side of medium in body. Carbonation is soft, and the beer provides a nice smooth blanket for the tongue, even though it remains crisp as an overall sip. Overall, this is a great hoppy pale ale. Bitterness is definitely the dominant feature here, and the Citra hop definitely shines, making this a wonderfully balanced hoppy beer with great complexity. This is a borderline IPA, and I personally would label it as such, as the malt balance isn’t quite where I like it for an APA. Overall this is a tremendously quaffable, hoppy pale ale with some great refreshing flavor. A beer to try!

4.19/5

The Session #86: Beer Journalism  

image

I’ve finally decided to take a stab at The Session. For those that don’t know, the Session is a monthly question posed to beer bloggers across the interwebs. The question can be about nearly anything in the beer world, and the question can be suggested by nearly anyone. This month’s question was put to the web by Heather Vandenengel of Beer Hobo, and poses the question: “What role do beer writers play in the culture and growth of craft beer? Are we advocates, critics, or storytellers?”

For my own personal taste in what I like to read in beer journalism, I find myself reading the pieces that approach subjects like a story.  I can understand a beer better when I know the surroundings and the company that this beer or brewery were shared over. I realize that is a bit hypocritical of me, given my rather precise beer reviews, but it is something I have been working to change for a while now with my own writing. As far as online beer journalism goes, I like a nice quick story. I hate reading long pieces (again, that is a problem with my own work) and I often find myself skipping through them to get to the good parts, like how the writer felt about the beer/brewery/etc…

I think that beer writers as a whole are a nice mélange between critic, advocate, and storyteller. We are a subjective bunch, and beer is a subjective subject, so our critiques are really only as valid as our own personal understanding of beer, nothing more and nothing less. The way a beer writer draws someone in is by setting a scene and telling a story about the beverage that they are so passionate about. Half of what makes craft beer so cool is the people and places that the beer and brewery interact with, and beer journalists are some of the best people to go out and find these stories and then present them to the masses.

I realize this is long and rambling, but I do want to take a moment to note what many others have said of beer journalism. Often times, beer journalism is awful. The journalist’s research is all wrong, their history is completely fabricated, and their opinions lose all credibility because they just seem to know nothing about the subject. That happens quite a lot, and usually ruffles my feathers. At the same time, however, I understand that for someone not in the craft beer geekdom, to step in and try to write a piece is rather difficult and the plethora of misleading information is quite vast. Even those within the industry are still on their own personal path through the beer world, and are still learning the industry and liable to not know something of the vastness that is the beer world. Yes, it is their fault for not researching deep enough, but it is understandable.

Fucking up isn’t that hard when you have to write a piece in a week and your research is done primarily over the internet and through outdated documents.  Beer journalism is still young, and is still finding its footing. I’m not entirely positive, but I would bet that the same could be said of wine journalism, even though it is slightly older. Professionalism and hard pressed facts come with time as the collective human experience (i.e. the internet) discovers more and more about a subject.

This, of course, does not begin to address the issue of cheerleading and how many beer journalists are simply cheering on their favorite breweries, and are not properly reporting from a journalistic point of view. That, too, will come with time, I suspect, and even then, we as humans are subjective, and we as writers will always have our favorites. The same can be said of most sports journalists and their favorite teams. Yes they try to remain unbiased, but they are passionate about their field and will undoubtedly have their favorites. Such is life. Such is journalism.

To conclude my rant: Beer journalism in 2014 is very biased and ill researched, but it is a young craft, and even when it gets old it will still be a subjective art reported by those that are passionate about the subject. The true power of beer journalism is telling the story of the people and places behind the beer, and these stories cannot help but be biased. That is what makes them entertaining to read! The future is bright for beer journalists as they evolve and change. Sure, the ‘bubble pop’ might be coming, but even after that good beer will be made and someone will have to tell us all about it.

To end, as Ms. Vandenengel requested, I’ll direct you to a piece of beer writing that I recently enjoyed. Truthfully, I might as well just say the whole damn site since I only discovered it two months ago, but the work that Michael Kiser and company are doing over at Good Beer Hunting is unique and eye catching. They blends rustic, artsy photography with beer storytelling and lay out a nice image of the breweries and people that they report on. I also love their coverage of Goose Island and how they have not given up on the brewery, despite the whole AB Inbev debacle. I’ve linked here a lovey quick piece he did on Brasserie Dunhams, who I have never heard of but now am thinking about planning a visit to. Here is the link.

Cheers and beers.

Revisiting Heady Topper (The Alchemist)

Style: Imperial IPA

8% ABV

From: Waterbury, VT

Yes, that infamous golden nectar that all the hop heads gush over. If I’m being honest with you folk, I’ve had Heady quite a few times since I first wrote that quaint review way back at the start of this blog.  I was young in my quest for beer, and was even naïve to just how sacred Heady Topper was to the beer community. I actually found Heady on a shelf at Kappy’s in Peabody, MA… Peabody, MA! That doesn’t happen anymore, but it did back then. I, as a shining and bright eyed beer enthusiast saw the can and was like: “Oh Heady Topper, I’ve heard of that beer I think, I guess I’ll purchase it to see how it is, durpa durr.” Little did I know that would be the last time that Massachusetts as a whole saw a can of Heady Topper. Any ways, to make a long story short, my palate has changed drastically since those early days of this blog (and they continue to change every day) so I decided it was time to revisit Heady.

(Yes I can read the can. No don’t care. Yes I do have several other cans that I might also be enjoying tonight that can let me know how the can varies from a glass. Thank you)

The beer pours a chunky, dehydrated yellow with some serious clouding and color gradient. The beer looks orange on its top, save for the massive head of creamy white bubbles that form a smooth sand dune over the beer and sit nearly three finger widths above the glass with some very nice retention. When the bubbles do leave, Heady spots my glass with a perfect topographical map of foamy, dry lacing. In body, the beer is a cloudy, hazy mess, as a completely honest reviewer Heady would only score decently in an appearance score due to its massive and everlasting head of bubbles. It’s not as pretty as it could be, but it was designed that way so we’ll let it be. On the nose, the beer smells of Heady Topper. If you’ve never smelled Heady Topper before then it smells like a very pungent DIPA. Mango, lemon, tangerine, a bag of weed, a big old juniper bush, (and even some metallic can when I sniff it out of the can…) slap across my nostrils no matter how far I place them from the can and glass. Heady is a beast to be reckoned with when it comes to smell. Sure, other beers have reached this pinnacle, but that doesn’t diminish the beauty of this beer’s smell at all. On the tongue, this beer tastes bitter. There is some balancing malty sweetness just at the back and finish, but this is a DIPA and it revels in its complex bitterness. Bright acidity can be sensed on the mid palate, providing a nice pop to the bitter pine. In flavor, this tastes like a DIPA. A nice bit of pith, tangerine, pinecone, pine sap, and subtle cracker malt tango on the tongue alongside a slight burp of juicy fruit as the beer finishes. The aftertaste is rather clean, but resonates with bitter pine and medicine. In the mouth, the beer feels on the plus side of medium with a prickle and tickle from the carbonation suggesting a medium level within the beer. The mouthfeel is crisp yet smooth, with a certain amount of fluff evident from the pillowy head atop the beer. Overall, this is Heady Topper and is obviously good. If I’m being honest, I think my can is a little old as far as purists go, but it still tasted delicious. The hop flavors have mellowed slightly and the malt is more balancing and a touch buttery, but it still is a damn good beer. Is it the best beer in the world? That is a subjective question, but for me personally, no. Is it better than Pliny the Elder? Again, a subjective question, but for me I appreciated Pliny a little more because of how damn balanced it was. Heady is a little aggressive with its hops and is a hop head’s dream, whereas Pliny builds beautiful hop flavor and aroma into a balanced package that even non-hop-lovers can appreciate. Still Heady is quite balanced in terms of other DIPA’s and IPA’s on the market, and is a true gem. The market is becoming flooded with similar beers, making its craze a little silly, but it still is beautiful and full of flavor. If you desire it then go get yourself a Heady. If you are near a place that has it, definitely give it a sip. In terms of my original review, I actually mostly agree. Sure, my descriptive vocabulary has broadened, and I no longer consider the beer “watery,” but my overall scoring of it (4.28/5) is just around where I would place it today. It’s a great beer that deserves its praise.

Hard Honey (Downeast Cider House)

Style: Session Mead

5.1% ABV

From: Charlestown, MA

Brewer’s Note: “Our take on the world’s oldest drink combines pure orange blossom honey with fresh apple cider for a clean, easy-drinking session mead.”

image

So Downeast is a funky cider house literally underneath the Tobin Bridge in Charlestown, MA. They had their start in Maine, however, and are creating superbly fresh and delicious cider in a can. I plan on getting around to reviewing their cider sometime soon, but I keep drinking all of the cans I have of it before I review it, so the review may take a while. Fortunately, I got a four pack of their new spring release (which is technically not being released till Saturday, but shoosh). Hard Honey is a session mead, which is a brilliant idea. I’ve had it once before paired with a fresh slice of orange and it was delicious. Here goes the review:

The can’s design is funky, fresh, and screams spring/summertime at me. Love the honeycomb background and all of the graphics. The water that surrounds the honey pot is oddly gorgeous and eye catching. I also love the various fonts, especially the Downeast title font with its worn and urban feel. Clutter is minimal and is mostly due to the government mandated section on the side of the can. I dig this can.

The mead pours like dehydrated piss or lemonade… You take your pick on the descriptor. A light carbonation causes a fizzley, soda-pop head that quickly dissipates, though the top of the mead continues to be prickled by bubbles. In body, the mead is cloudy, like a fresh pressed lemonade. Only a ghost of the other side of the glass can be glimpsed through the haze. On the nose, the mead smells of a yeasty, bready funk blended with a kiss of tart citrus and apple juice. Subtle honey scents can also be picked out as you shove your nose into the glass, as well as the ghost of cinnamon and cloves. On the tongue, the mead tastes sweet with an acidic pop. The sweetness begins bready and then morphs into rich honey sweetness while the acidity slowly builds into soft citric tartness. The mead seems to be a nice balancing act between the sweet and acidic tastes. In flavor, it brings fresh lemonade, subtle apple juice, and raw honey across the tongue. Towards the end of the sip, the honey mingles a little with the yeasty flavor to give us a hint of honey and toast, which is further accented in the aftertaste. The finish also carries subtle hints of orange juice as it splashes down the gullet. In the mouth, the mead begins like seltzer water or soda with fizzling carbonation that mellows more towards a champagne-feel by the end of the sip. The beer feels on the light side of medium in body with a crisp mouthfeel that gets only slightly syrupy on the finish and provides for superb drinkability. Overall, this is the warmer months in a glass. Crisp and expressive, citric and sweet, and just dying to be blended and mixed with everything. Downeast has nailed the session mead on the head. I’ve heard mixed reviews from others that have tried this, and I’m sure it’s not for everyone, but for me it is delicious.

Art #18 (Night Shift Brewing)

Style: American Wild Ale blend

6.3% ABV

Bottled on: 3/10/14

Brewer’s Note: “Night Shift “Art” is a series of experimental, test-batch beers and beer-blends that are thoughtful expressions of our current creative process. Some might become larger production batches, some will fade into the night. The goal is unique, artistic beer experimentation. [Art #18 is made of an]Oak aged blend of Berliner Weisse beers & brett beers. 25% raspberry berliner (Art 5.5), 25% Somer Weisse, 50 % brett ale, 100% barrel aged. Sour, fruity and citrusy!”

The beer pours a hazy amber/copper/slightly pink, with a small head of eggshell white and miniscule bubbles with very little retention. In body, the beer is very murky, but still slightly translucent, with a thick cloudiness veiling the beer. No particles seem to be present in the beer, but overall it is not the prettiest thing to look at. On the nose, the beer smells funky yet mild. Oak, vinegar, slight tart yogurt, and even a little fruity syrupiness cross the nose. The smell is subtle, yet endearing in its soft complexity. On the tongue, the beer begins as puckeringly tart and stays nicely sour through the sip. Fruity sweetness blends in early on, and the finish of the beer brings in soft tannic bitters and citrus along with a little bit of wheat malt sweetness.  In flavor the beer begins sour raspberry syrup and generic citrus juice. Subtle pineapple can be sensed towards the middle of the sip, and eventually soft oak, vanilla, wheat flake, yogurt, and very faint lemon flavors cross the palate. The finish gives a nice kick of wheat malt balance. As a whole, I see each bit of the barrel aging, but I don’t feel that the blend worked as well as was hoped. The flavors are all subdued and subtle, but none of them fully mesh with each other to bring forward new complexity. In the mouth, the beer feels on the light side of medium in body with a prickly fierce carbonation that tickles across the tongue. Mouthfeel is thinly syrupy, with a gelling feel in the middle of the tongue. Overall, the beer was a nice subtle wild, but was a bit restrained and a bit muddled in terms of the beers used in the blend. This is not a horrible wild ale, it’s just muddled in terms of the components that went in.

Wild Trillium (Trillium Brewing Company)

Style: Wild American Saison aged in Oak Casks

7.7% ABV

From: Boston, MA

Brewer’s Note: “Wild Trillium is a wild fermented version of our flagship beer, Trillium Farmhouse Ale. The beer spent over 9 months aging in a single oak barrel with our house blend of wild microbes.”

The beers label is a beautiful work of simplicity. I love the hand-drawn look of the barrel graphic, I love the open white spaces and lack of clutter, the simple fonts are eye catching beside the white background, and the texture of the paper is fascinating and rustic. This labels does wonders in characterizing the rustic nature of the beer in the glass. I like this label and find it quite worthy of the shelf.

The beer pours a rich, light golden color, bordering on the color of aged hay. The beer forms a small head of large and rocky bubbles, which quickly fall way to a scrim around my glass. In body, the beer is quite clear and clean, with a subtle but definite haze making the other side of the glass slightly murky on the eyes. On the nose, the beer blasts delightful funk, touting big fruity pineapple alongside aging hay notes, definite subtle horse blanket, lemon, and even a ghost of cherry leather. The oak is subtle in the nose, but does seem to lurk in the background, tickling the nostrils with its oaky structure and soft vanilla scents. On the tongue, the beer is fruity, yet dry. Soft acidity carries the fruit through the start of the sip, but mellows into soft oak tannin, soft grass bitters, and mellow bitter funk. Salinity is very subtle in this beer, but definitely there in the finish and aftertaste. This beer is superbly balanced, especially for a wild ale, and definitely speaks to the skill and precision of the barrel keeper and brewer. In flavor, the beer begins as tart lemons, soft leather, softer horse blanket, pineapple, and orange pith. This moves to grassy and hay-like bitters with a nice earthy funk and a touch of subtle salt, and then moves more in the barnyard vicinity with a tannic structure of subtle oaken flavors that develop further in the finish and aftertaste. The finish is a bit quick and short lived, giving me bright lemon citrus, oak, pineapple, grass, and horse blanket that I wish lasted a tad longer. The aftertaste is of hay and oak. In the mouth, the beer feels light in body, a touch below medium, with a prickly carbonation that never quite becomes fierce in the mouth, and an overall mouthfeel of crispness. After the beer leaves, the mouth is left dry except for the tongue and cheek pouches, which are wetted due to the beer’s acidity. Overall, this beer is surprisingly subtle (I think I used that word fifty or more times in this review…) which I love. The beer is crisp and clean, yet funky and salty, with wonderful soft flavors. The scent and taste don’t quite add up, but both are superb on their own, so it’s alright with me. This beer is the epitome of balance in wild ales. I almost wish it was a little more aggressive in its flavoring, but I think it will become just that if you let it age. I grabbed two bottles and have already drank them both, though, I should have saved one! This is yet another phenomenal and crisp beer from Trillium, who are really doing something special in Boston. I can’t wait to try more of what they have to offer.

4.31/5