Style: Dry-Hopped Mixed Fermentation Farmhouse Ale
From: Newmarket, NH
Brewery’s Facebook Note: “Sylph is on its third batch now and we feel the mixed culture has really performed as we had hoped she would. Showcasing a vivid, fruit forward profile with zero fruit additions. We’ve also started denoting the labels of Sylph on our back logo with batch numbers. This, batch #3, is the first we are doing like this./Nelson Sylph is our second take on a dry hopped version of Sylph. The Nelson Sauvin have brought their signature white grape notes to the party in full force. We feel these play exceptionally well with the more tropical base of v3 Sylph.”
The beer pours the beautiful, yellowy color of previous Sylphs. Hazy body, big crackly white head, quicker fade, and a deeper opacity despite the light color. It looks pretty and proper for the farmhouse lineage, perhaps a tad more ‘rustic’ than earlier batches of Sylph. On the nose, the beer is hugely expressive of both the base beer and the beautifully grapey Nelson Sauvin hops. Lemon seltzer spritzed with grass and tropical citrus juice gives way to perfumy white wine in the Moscato range, yet tampered by the light minerality that the base beer brings. Compared with Mosaic Sylph, the nose is more delicate, allowing for the base beer to really integrate and nuance the hop profile. There is faint, faint bread, a little bit of cattiness, and even some ‘green-herbal’ scents like you get when you crush a hop pellet. Where Mosaic’s nose was a brute, Nelson’s is a gentle, subtle lover that manages to romance the Sylph quite nicely. On the tongue, the beer tastes nicely balanced, drawing fruity sweetness lightly alongside citric and lactic acidity, with mild, herby bitterness drawing around the edges of the tongue and even dipping towards savory and salty side caverns while the faintest presence of booze spices alongside acidic spice on the finish. Balance is beautiful and complex in this beer, allowing the Nelson Sauvin to layer slight Sauv Blanc gooseberry alongside Moscato-like grape juice and a wonderful finish of bitter, mintier herbs that manage an English Hops/Cascade Hops closing profile. Still, the beer’s lemon and apricot acidity manage to carry some of the grapey flavors into a meaty finish that is both savory, sweet, and softly bitter. A quick rundown of flavor: Fresh, tart farmhouse ale slips into bright, winey flavors between a sauvignon blanc and a light Moscato, finishing more in the ‘hoppy beer zone’ with herbal bitters and fresh mintiness. In the mouth, the beer feels on the light side of medium and effervescent, with a clean crackle and snap that has become characteristic of Deciduous’s Farmhousey and pLambic offerings. It’s crisp and refreshing, yet has some lingering weight and stick, presumably from the hop oils. When it leaves, the mouth is left pretty neutral, save for the slow oozing torrent of saliva in the middle of the tongue. There is a little bit of hop stickiness, but that is more in line with a dry-hopped wild ale (Sepal) than with something like a double IPA. Overall, Deciduous continues to stride their bottled offerings forward in fresh and exciting leaps and bounds. Nelson Sylph is not a drastic departure from much of the rest of their portfolio, but it is tasty, nuanced, and a delight to drink. I’m holding Albricot as my gold-standard for them at this point, and this beer doesn’t quite top that standard, but it does provide yet another delicious bottle to their impressive repertoire.