Style: Dry- Hopped Brett Saison Aged in Wine Barrels with Elephant Heart Plums
From: San Francisco, CA
Brewery’s Note on Beer: “Elephant Heart de Brettaville takes its name from Elephant Heart plums, a fruit prized for its ruby red flesh and berry-like tartness. We began with a brett-fermented ale and aged it in wine barrels with this succulent stone fruit, then generously dry-hopped with El Dorado right before packaging./ This bright farmhouse ale balances the candy-like sweetness of the fruit and hops with brettanomyces funk to create a complex brew, perfect for pairing with roasted lamb or Manchego cheese.”
Brewery’s Note on de Brettaville Series: “Our Farm to Barrel beers focus on the eons-old tradition of aging beers in oak barrels, and our de Brettaville saisons expand upon this tradition by highlighting the magical properties of wild brettanomyces yeast. We start by brewing a bright and aromatic farmhouse ale with a blend of twelve “brett” yeast strains. After a vigorous primary fermentation, the beer is racked into wine barrels to mature. In cask, the beer takes on the complex flavors of the oak, and the brettanomyces yeast creates an exotic mélange of earthy funk and tropical fruit flavors. This wild ale is alive in the bottle and will continue to mature for years.”
The beer pours a murky, sunburst orange with bruised purple undertones and a touch of chalkiness to the coloring. It wobbles in the glass a little girthier than I expected, and it definitely has some trubbiness to it. The beer pours with a small cap of pristine white and minuscule bubbles that fizzle to frothy scrim. The lacing left behind is slick, and thinner, but does ooze into thin tendrils with stalactites flowing down from them. The beer’s body is utterly murky, cloudy and carries some chunks on the bottom of my glass. The plum is definitely floating about in there and murking things up, but I’m okay with that given the style and the fruit addition. It looks a little blasé on first pass, but as I examine it more has some beauty to it. On the nose, the beer smells surprisingly citric and grassy. The El Dorado dry-hopping leaves the nose beautifully juicy ala Prairie’s Funky Gold series et. all, but there is a really nice, earthy funk and salinity in this beer that separates it from the dry-hopped wild style and turns to a more farmhouse execution. The big juice on the start of the nose takes on a little sweeter of a tinge as I contemplate it, turning to slightly honeyed plums alongside citric lemon and lime, then lemongrass and hay, there is a little brackish pool water, a touch of sweet pine, a ghost of caramel malt, and even a hint of gritty raspberry on the finish. It’s a fruity nose with big citric nuances and farmhouse undertones, and I like it. On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet and softly lactic tart with touches of citric snap, especially towards the finish and aftertaste. The middle of the sip and the finish bring in light bitterness of the citric and grassy variety, and they play well with the sweet citrus juice while a sweeter (presumably plum) dark fruit character with touches of honey and nectarine wobbles into the finish, which also carries slight chardonnay touches, including ghosts of butteriness. The aftertaste carries some really nice plum flesh flavor alongside funky nectarine. Tannic fruit flesh and subtle barrel enter in the finish and aftertaste to dry out the sweetness and balance the sip, though it remains a touch sweet. Surprisingly, despite all the fruit-heavy taste, it remains decidedly farmhouse in execution, and even carries faint cheesy undertones. These grow a little too strong as the beer opens in the glass, but never unpleasant. In the mouth, the beer feels medium-plus bodied, with a snappier carb and acidity that keep the start of the sip light and lively while the finish grows full and fruit-juice-like. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left slightly puckered with a chalky phlegm that smacks at the cheeks and draws a fair amount of spittle along the gum line. Overall, this is a lovely fruit execution with a perfectly blended dry-hopping. The while the hops lead the nose, the taste is decidedly funky-fruit driven, yet neither drowns the other out and I love that. The barrel is also subtly integrated, never leading the flavor, but adding nuances that I truly appreciate. I’m so glad I can get Almanac near me now, as everything I have had from them has been delicious. This beer is phenomenal.