Style: French Barrel Brettanomyces Aged Weizenbock
Brewery’s Note: “Barrelaged Tweiss – our traditional weizenbock aged 6 months in French oak with Brett C.
Brewery’s Note on Base Beer: “Tweiss is our take on a weizenbock. Essentially an imperial version of Weiss, Tweiss is a sweeter, bolder brew but still has the clean drinkability of its little brother. Sweet banana notes greet you as you take your first sip and give way to a subtle bready flavor. The large amount of wheat in the grain bill gives the beer a velvety smooth mouthfeel. At 7% alcohol, you won’t have to drink a lot of Tweiss to get where you are going, but you will probably want to anyway.”
The beer pours a golden copper color with a slight rose hue and a healthy cap of genlty off-white bubbles that leave fat tentacles and strands of lacing on the glass. The beer’s body is clean and clear, yet darker and with some characteristic haze. On the nose, the beer smells of green banana smeared over fresh oak slats and spicy cracked black pepper, a little bit of green pepper flesh, perhaps a touch of jalapeno flesh, and some creamy wheat below it all. While the descriptors are hugely farmhouse ale/classic saison, this beer has a clean, crisp quality that is truly unique. The bretta influence seems to be in introducing especially heavy pepper to the phenols, and perhaps the mere whisper of cheese rind on the edges. On the tongue, the beer tastes apple sweet with a healthy dose of spicy phenol expressing green pepper flesh, jalepeno spice, and a little bit of vegetal sweetness. This blends to a finish where the spice turns slightly bitter and takes on subtle nuances of oak tannin. The aftertaste and retro nasal-exhale find beautiful bready notes, full of crust and nuance that I kind of wish were more present in the beer (I suppose I should try the base beer…). The bretta influence seems to be on the very finish with tropical fruit of the pineapple and subtle sweet cherry variety, along with just a kiss of horse and barnyard. The sweetness is slightly clashing with the dry peppery nature of the rest of the sip, though it integrates more as the beer warms. This beer is tasty with a nice balance of weizenbock and farmhouse. In the mouth, the beer feels slightly slick, with middling carb that crackles and smacks the palate crisp, despite the initial slickness. The body is medium weighted, but the attenuation feels quite high on this one, despite the heavier sweetness on the beginning and finish, which do occasionally weigh the sip down. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left dry and slightly sticky, with a slight sheat of spittle sheans across the tongue. Slight astringency plays with the dryness and pull up the middle of the tongue. Overall, this is an odd bird. It has components that I absolutely love, and the unique treatment to a weizenbock has proven a really nice intro to this brewery for me (I’ve been meaning to check out Gneiss for a while), but I feel like the fruity sweetness sits a little too middling for the rest of the beer, and that holds back the dry phenolic spices that this beer really revels in. They either need to rule or play contrast to, but instead they are left to slightly clash. I would have also liked to have seen a bit more oak in the flavor, just to help pull things together a touch more. Still, that’s me nitpicking, and I’m not the brewer so my wishes are worth shit. This is a great beer, and shows some really unique and talented chops from the Gneiss brewers. I love that they are only brewing with a weizen yeast, and I do love how unique this beer is. In the end, it came across a lot like a barrel aged, sacchro-only saison/farmhouse ale with a more phenol-forward character, but it definitely carries some different components. It’s cleaner and crisper, yet snaps with tropical sweet bretta in the beginning and end. This is a beer to try, if only to comprehend it. I would have it again.