Style: Witbier w/ginger root, chamomile, lemon balm. Aged 4 months in a Pinot Noir/Gin barrel
From: Oxford, CT
Brewery’s Note: “Albus is our historic interpretation of a Belgian white ale brewed with copious amounts of malted & unmalted wheat along with ginger root, chamomile and lemon balm. It is fermented using saccharomyces and lactobaccilus. Albus Singularis is a special edition matured in an oak barrel. Batch #1 was matured for over 4 months in a Ransom Spirits Pinot Noir/Gin barrel.”
The beer pours a proper hazy, nearly-white, yellow, but with a touch more orange hues and hints of a richer malt base than most wits. It’s cloudy, and damn near opaque except for hints of shadow that wiggle through to the eyes. The beer looks the properly rustic, with a look that is expected of such a beer, but with an above average carb that crackles on the ears and seems to be constantly cascading up to top of the glass. It forms a quick, soda-fizzle head of eggshell white bubbles, but with a tight compact structure that is not common of soda. The head does not last long, of course, and swiftly recedes to a crackling ring. On the nose, the beer smells of rich lemon and lactic acid. Just the right touch of pool water mingles with yogurt and lemons, and then a snap of ginger spices up the back of the sniff, while beneath everything else I sense some mellow wheat bread. The smell is of mineraly citrus, which is really quite intriguing as a whole, and does offer nice complexity to the simplistic nose. On the tongue, the beer tastes sharply tart as it begins, slowly moving towards a citrus fruit sweetness, with a nice wheat malt sweetness on the finish. The beer is far from two-note, however, as it also features a rich side-show of earthy minerality, which lingers in the mouth. The bitters are light, and nearly nonexistent, though faint oaken tannins do bring touches of earthy bitters to the close of the sip. In flavor, the beer tastes of lemon juice, spiced with subtle ginger, pool water, subtle salinity, and then finally there is a beautiful crescendo of wheat crackers, which smoothes out the finish. It honestly starts drier than it finishes, which I find fascinating, yet at no point is the beer too sweet. The finish is the sweetest bit of the beer though, and does leave a slight candied lemon aftertaste lingering over everything. In the mouth, the beer is light bodied, but crackling with effervescent carbonation that touches a perfect balance between fierce and cushioning. It feels crisp, yet with a gelling touch behind everything. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left moist with acid-canceling spittle, with a slight crackle around the gum-line as the acids lovingly gnaw at the skin there. Overall, this is a beautiful, tart witbier, full of fresh lemon-lacto character with the perfect accents of the other ingredients. It has some distant lineage with a Berliner weisse, but with a slightly more complex malt bill. As far as the barrel aging goes, it’s subtle beneath all the fresh flavors and acidity, but when I really reach for it, I begin to pick out a meaty oak underlying the flavors and lingering on the tongue. I think the gin is more present in the beer than the pinot noir, but I think this works perfectly, as the herbal notes blend in with the citric character of the beer. This is a lovely spring or summer (or the time when you are waiting for both to begin) sipper. It’s got lovely complexity, but can be knocked back lovingly if you so desire. Citric sun in a bottle, with a slightly oaky-meaty core. It’s nice.