Style: Semi-Spontaneous Berliner Weisse aged in Wine Barrels
From: Oxford, CT
Brewery’s Note: “Exilior is a Berliner Style Weisse brewed using a traditional 3 part decoction using the thin part of the mash in each decoction. The hops are added and boiled during the decoction process. Unboiled, the beer then sits in the coolship overnight./ The next day it is transferred to the tank and pitched with some house yeast making this a semi spontaneously fermented ale. It is then matured in wine barrels for at least 6 months. Batch #1 was matured in a mix of Syrah & Chardonnay barrels.”
The beer pours a pale, chalky yellow with browning edges. I looks murky, like deep dehydrated piss mixed with a little orange juice. The beer pours with a soda-pop head that fizzles away to just a soapy white scrim. The cling and lacing are very slick, though they do stick nicely together in fat waves as they go up and down the glass. The body of the beer is nearly an opaque, cloudy murk, yet vague hints of the other side can occasionally be made out. Directly in the light, the beer takes on a yellow sunburst color that is actually nice to look at, but sitting on the table the color comes across a little drab. On the nose, the beer smells of sharp, chalky lactic acidity, with pool water wafting over everything. There is a metallic tinge to it, like wet steel, and a gentle underlying tropical fruit presences that draws pineapple juice, soft lemon flesh, perhaps some green apple, and a mellow dose of white wine onto the nose. It’s a softer nose, aside from the sharp acidity, but it carries some really nice nuances. Think lactic, watered down tropical fruit and citrus juice lying thinly over a sheet of metal. There are touches of cheesiness, sweat, and something fungal, but the sharp citrus and metallic tang tamper them nicely. On the tongue, the beer tastes of classic Berliner weisse, though the tartness is a bit sharper. It begins with a snap of citrus fruit acidity (lemon, lime, touch of tangerine) that leads into a midway crescendo before being taken with mellow wheaty sweetness tempered with a fungal earthiness, a touch of salty brine with a metallic touch. Sour lactic acidity also enters in, along with a taste akin to sweaty socks and slightly soured milk, which is oddly not displeasing in the context of the beer, though odd. The finish is dry and tannic, drawing attention to the fact that a gently bitter tannic structure has been in place since the start of the sip. The finish drops acidity into the teeth pouches and along the gum-line, which nicely draws out the other complexities of the beer. It tastes like a slightly more complex old world Berliner weisse with a touch more acidity than a classic representation of the style. The sour milk flavor ebbs slowly towards cheese rind character as the beer opens, which is intriguing. In the mouth, the beer is light in body, as might be expected, but its acidity and tannins coat the mouth, snapping over the tongue with a light pucker and grit that pulls at the enamel on your teeth. In body, the beer is light, and a step above crisp, in fact. Though it seems nearly flat with carbonation, there is a liveliness to the tongue that is snappy and spry which is brought by the acidity. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left taught while it floods with spittle and the teeth pucker at the grime of acidity upon them. This has a decent pucker to it, and could be considered an enamel ripper, but it carries enough character outside the acidity that it does not come off wholly unbalanced, especially given the beer’s style. Overall, fungal-citric-tart-wheat-pool-water is my best description of this beer. The wine barrel is gentle, mostly accentuating flavors already present, though the barrel does add a rich, earthy sweetness to the finish and aftertaste. This is a complex straight Berliner weisse, and is delicious, but will not blow your socks off. Take it with light food and see what secrets it can open up. I suspect the myriad extra flavors that the beer possesses will really come out with different foods, creating a whole forest of possibilities.
OEC is creating an intriguing line of new-old beers. They blend a nice flourish of old world sensibilities with intriguing new world experimentation and aggression. This beer, like all the others I have tried, is delicious. It won’t take a “Best in Show” in my book, but all their beer is worthy of mention. They do styles very well, and I’m excited to get a hold of their more ‘wacky’ experiments!