Style: Golden Brett Aged in Oak Foudre
From: Portland, ME
Grains: Allagash 2-row Malted Barley Blend, Victory Malt, Malted Red Wheat, Flaked Oats
Hops: Simcoe, Northern Brewer
Yeast: Allagash House Brettanomyces
Brewery’s Note: “Golden Brett is a dark golden colored beer, with a fruity aroma and flavors suggesting citrus, apricot and bread crust. The mild tartness of the beer gives way to a long, clean finish. We brew this beer with Victory, 2-row and red wheat malt. It is fermented exclusively with our house strain of Brettanomyces. The beer started its primary fermentation in a stainless tank and finished fermentation in an 800 gallon oak foudre. It was lightly hopped with a blend of Northern Brewer and Simcoe and then dry hopped with Simcoe prior to bottling.”
The beer pours a deep, regal gold color with yellow and pissish tinges. The body is clear and beautifully full of a torrent of tiny bubbles, but there is a slight cloudiness to the beer which nips at the translucency a little. It looks a lot like a Belgian Golden Ale. The beer pours with a large, soapy, off-white-but-nearly-eggshell-colored head with some serious retention. When it does go, the head leaves a soapy lacework curtain of bubbles along the edges of the glass. On the nose, the beer is pungent with Allagash’s bretta strain. It’s a bit like a stale farmhouse, must and funky yet gushing with peach and pear, a touch of fermented strawberry, some spearmint, and lovely flourishes of milky vanilla-oak, and a lingering hint of citrus fruit juice (grapefruit mixed with mango-pineapple, which I commonly find in Dry Hopped American Wild Ales). As I sniff more I get touches of floral perfume and the first whispers of bananas and spice. On the tongue, the beer tastes of funky fruity sweetness tempered by a tingling carb/bitter salvo that doesn’t make the sip overly bitter, but adds a heavy balance. The opening sip is actually tart with acidity, but that is quickly forgotten in the tango that ensues. There’s some doughy sweetness in the middle and finish, along with an herbal and minty bitterness that slowly unfurls into grapefruit and lemon citrus bitters and a grassy bitter that builds as you sip. The funk is somewhere in the cheesy, horse-blankety, and pineapple/peach/pear-y realm, and finishes on the sweeter, fruitier cheesy side while the bitters turn to hay and grass in a balancing arch. The tannic oak bitterness is subtle at first, but seems to be structured into the hop bitters, and the vanillin from the oak weaves its way into the sweet doughiness of the sip and slowly grows in presence. The flavor is peach juice, yeasty dough with vanilla, and bitter grapefruit juice dropped in a barn with hay and grass. In the mouth, the beer feels pretty fierce in the initial sip, with a scraping assault of carb that works well with the beer, but could be a little more tempered. The second half of the sip – despite the rawness of the assaulted tongue – is smooth and creamy, yet crisp and snappy, and the beer leaves a light froth on the back of the throat as it travels on down. When the beer leaves, the tongue is left to tingle and tauten with bitter tightness while mild, mild spittle wells in the lower jaw. Overall, this is a lovely, hoppy golden brett. It’s not an India Pale Brett like Hop Savant, nor a Dry Hopped American Wild Ale, but it does carry nuances of the fruit juice-like flavor and scents I get from those. It is more in the funky Belgian Golden Ale range of things, but I think the closest analogue for me would be Mystic’s Flor Sauvage with more hop character and less yeast complexity (Flor Sauvage had 10 different strains working on it, this is not by any means a knock against the complexity of Allagash’s single brett strain ferment). This beer certainly evolves in the glass as you let it warm up, and is a lovely sipper though it can certainly be drank faster than that. The bitters and initial assault of the beer are a touch unharmonious with the rest of the sip though this does mellow as the beer warms. If I’m nitpicking, that holds the beer back from absolute greatness, but it is still an excellent beer with great complexity and enjoyment to sip. I’m not sure I could have more than one glass in a night as there is a definite richness lying beneath everything else, but that being said, I’d love to be able to. Another great beer from Allagash.