Mixed Fermentation Sour Beer

28B. Mixed-Fermentation Sour Beer

Overall Impression:
A sour and/or funky version of a base style of beer.

Aroma:
Variable by base style. The contribution of non-Saccharomyces microbes should be noticeable to strong, and often contribute a sour and/or funky, wild note. The best examples will display a range of aromatics, rather than a single dominant character. The aroma should be inviting, not harsh or unpleasant.

Appearance:
Variable by base style. Clarity can be variable; some haze is not a fault. Head retention can be poor due to high levels of acid or anti-foam properties of some lactobacillus strains.

Flavor:
Variable by base style. Look for an agreeable balance between the base beer and the fermentation character. A range of results is possible from fairly high acidity/funk to a subtle, pleasant, harmonious beer. The best examples are pleasurable to drink with the esters and phenols complementing the malt and/or hops. The wild character can be prominent, but does not need to be dominating in a style with an otherwise strong malt/hop profile. Acidity should be firm yet enjoyable, but should not be biting or vinegary; prominent or objectionable/offensive acetic acid is a fault. Bitterness tends to be low, especially as sourness increases.

Mouthfeel:
Variable by base style. Generally a light body, almost always lighter than what might be expected from the base style. Generally moderate to high carbonation, although often lower in higher alcohol examples.

Comments:
These beers may be aged in wood, but any wood character should not be a primary or dominant flavor. Sour beers are typically not bitter as these flavors clash. The base beer style becomes less relevant because the various yeast and bacteria tend to dominate the profile. Inappropriate characteristics include diacetyl, solvent, ropy/viscous texture, and heavy oxidation.

History:
Modern American craft beer interpretations of Belgian sour ales, or experimentations inspired by Belgian sour ales.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Virtually any style of beer. Usually fermented by Lactobacillus and/or Pediococcus, often in conjunction with Saccharomyces and/or Brettanomyces. Can also be a blend of styles. Wood or barrel aging is very common, but not required.

Style Comparison:

A sour and/or funky version of a base style.

Vital Statistics:
Variable by style

Commercial Examples:
Boulevard Love Child, Cascade Vlad the Imp Aler, Jester King Le Petit Prince, Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca, Russian River Temptation, The Bruery Rueuze, The Bruery Tart of Darkness

Brett Beer

28A. Brett Beer

Overall Impression:
Most often drier and fruitier than the base style suggests. Funky notes range from low to high, depending on the age of the beer and strain(s) of Brett used. Funkiness is generally restrained in younger 100% Brett examples, but tends to increase with age. May possess a light acidity, although this does not come from Brett.

Aroma:
Variable by base style. Young Brett-fermented beers will possess more fruity notes (e.g., tropical fruit, stone fruit, or citrus), but this is variable by the strain(s) of Brett used. For 100% Brett beers heavily hopped with American hop varieties, the fermentation-derived flavors are often difficult to tease from the hop aromatics. Older 100% Brett beers may start to develop a little funk (e.g., barnyard, wet hay, or slightly earthy or smoky notes), but this character should not dominate. If the beer is fermented with a brewer’s yeast in addition to Brett, some of the character of the primary yeast may remain. A faint sourness is acceptable but should not be a prominent character.

Appearance:
Variable by base style. Clarity can be variable, and depends on the base style and ingredients used. Some haze is not necessarily a fault.

Flavor:
Variable by base style. Brett character may range from minimal to aggressive. Can be quite fruity (e.g., tropical fruit, berry, stone fruit, citrus), or have some smoky, earthy, or barnyard character. Should not be unpleasantly funky, such as Band-Aid, fetid, nail polish remover, cheese, etc. Light sourness is acceptable with the beer being lightly tart, but should not be truly sour. Always fruitier when young, gaining more funk with age. May not be acetic or lactic. Malt flavors are often less pronounced than in the base style, leaving a beer most often dry and crisp due to high attenuation by the Brett.

Mouthfeel:
Variable by base style. Generally a light body, lighter than what might be expected from the base style but an overly thin body is a fault. Generally moderate to high carbonation. Head retention is variable.

Comments:
The base style describes most of the character of these beers, but the addition of Brett ensures a drier, thinner, and funkier product. Younger versions are brighter and fruitier, while older ones possess more depth of funk and may lose more of the base style character. Wood-aged versions should be entered in the Wild Specialty Beer style. The Brett character should always meld with the style; these beers should never be a ‘Brett bomb’. Note that Brett does not produce lactic acid.

History:
Modern American craft beer interpretations of Belgian wild ales, or experimentations inspired by Belgian wild ales or historical English beers with Brett. 100% Brett beers gained popularity after the year 2000; Port Brewing Mo Betta Bretta was one of the first celebrated examples.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Virtually any style of beer, fermented in any manner, then finished with one or more strains of Brett. Alternatively, a beer made with Brett as the sole fermentation strain.

Style Comparison:
Compared to the same beer style without Brett, a Brett Beer will be drier, more highly attenuated, fruitier, lighter in body, and slightly funkier as it ages. Less sourness and depth than Belgian ‘wild’ ales.

Commercial Examples:
Boulevard Saison Brett, Hill Farmstead Arthur, Logsdon Seizoen Bretta, Russian River Sanctification, The Bruery Saison Rue, Victory Helios

Trappist Single

26A. Trappist Single

Overall Impression:
A pale, bitter, highly attenuated and well carbonated Trappist ale, showing a fruity-spicy Trappist yeast character, a spicy-floral hop profile, and a soft, supportive grainy-sweet malt palate.

Aroma:
Medium-low to medium-high Trappist yeast character, showing a fruity-spicy character along with medium-low to medium spicy or floral hops, occasionally enhanced by light herbal/citrusy spice additions. Low to medium-low grainy-sweet malt backdrop, which may have a light honey or sugar quality. Fruit expression can vary widely (citrus, pome fruit, stone fruit). Light spicy, yeast-driven phenolics found in the best examples. Bubblegum inappropriate.

Appearance:
Pale yellow to medium gold color. Generally good clarity, with a moderate-sized, persistent, billowy white head with characteristic lacing.

Flavor:
Fruity, hoppy, bitter, and dry. Initial malty-sweet impression, with a grainy-sweet soft malt palate, and a dry, hoppy finish. The malt may have a light honeyed biscuit or cracker impression. Moderate spicy or floral hop flavor. Esters can be citrus (orange, lemon, grapefruit), pome fruit (apple, pear), or stone fruit (apricot, peach). Light to moderate spicy, peppery, or clove phenolics. Bitterness rises towards the crisp, dry finish, with an aftertaste of light malt, moderate hops and yeast character.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-light to medium body. Smooth. Medium-high to high carbonation, can be somewhat prickly. Should not have noticeable alcohol warmth.

Comments:
Often not labeled or available outside the monastery, or infrequently brewed. Might also be called monk’s beer or Brother’s beer. Highly attenuated, generally 85% or higher.

History:
While Trappist breweries have a tradition of brewing a lower-strength beer as a monk’s daily ration, the bitter, pale beer this style describes is a relatively modern invention reflecting current tastes. Westvleteren first brewed theirs in 1999, but replaced older lower-gravity products.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Pilsner malt, Belgian Trappist yeast, Saazer-type hops.

Style Comparison:
Like a top-fermented Belgian/Trappist interpretation of a German Pils – pale, hoppy, and well-attenuated, but showing prototypical Belgian yeast character. Has less sweetness, higher attenuation, less character malt, and is more hop-centered than a Belgian Pale Ale. More like a much smaller, more highly hopped tripel than a smaller Belgian Blond Ale.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.044 – 1.054
IBUs: 25 – 45 FG: 1.004 – 1.010
SRM: 3 – 5 ABV: 4.8 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples:
Achel 5° Blond, St. Bernardus Extra 4, Westmalle Extra, Westvleteren Blond

Wheatwine

22D. Wheatwine

Overall Impression:
A richly textured, high alcohol sipping beer with a significant grainy, bready flavor and sleek body. The emphasis is first on the bready, wheaty flavors with interesting complexity from malt, hops, fruity yeast character and alcohol complexity.

Aroma:
Hop aroma is mild and can represent just about any late hop aromatic. Moderate to moderately-strong bready, wheaty malt character, often with additional malt complexity such as honey and caramel. A light, clean, alcohol aroma may noted. Low to medium fruity notes may be apparent. Very low levels of diacetyl are acceptable but not required. Weizen yeast character (banana/clove) is inappropriate.

Appearance:
Color ranges from gold to deep amber, often with garnet or ruby highlights. Low to medium off-white head. The head may have creamy texture, and good retention. Chill haze is allowable, but usually clears up as the beer gets warmer. High alcohol and viscosity may be visible in “legs” when beer is swirled in a glass.

Flavor:
Moderate to moderately-high wheaty malt flavor, dominant in the flavor balance over any hop character. Low to moderate bready, toasty, caramel, or honey malt notes are a welcome complexity note, although not required. Hop flavor is low to medium, and can reflect any variety. Moderate to moderately-high fruitiness, often with a dried-fruit character. Hop bitterness may range from low to moderate; balance therefore ranges from malty to evenly balanced. Should not be syrupy and under-attenuated. Some oxidative or vinous flavors may be present, as are light alcohol notes that are clean and smooth but complex. A complementary, supportive oak character is welcome, but not required.

Mouthfeel:
Medium-full to full bodied and chewy, often with a luscious, velvety texture. Low to moderate carbonation. Light to moderate smooth alcohol warming may also be present.

Comments:
Dark malts should be used with restraint. Much of the color arises from a lengthy boil. Some commercial examples may be larger than the Vital Statistics, and some may not be brewed every year.

History:
A relatively recent American craft beer style that was first brewed at the Rubicon Brewing Company in 1988. Often a winter seasonal, vintage, or one-off release. Breweries frequently experiment with this style, leading to a range of interpretations.

Characteristic Ingredients:
Typically brewed with a combination of American two-row and American wheat. Style commonly uses 50% or more wheat malt. Any variety of hops may be used. May be oak-aged.

Style Comparison:
More than simply a wheat-based barleywine, many versions have very expressive fruity and hoppy notes, while others develop complexity through oak aging. Less emphasis on the hops than American Barleywine. Has roots in American Wheat Beer rather than any German wheat styles, so should not have any German weizen yeast character.

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 30 – 60 FG: 1.016 – 1.030
SRM: 8 – 15 ABV: 8.0 – 12.0%

Commercial Examples:
Rubicon Winter Wheat Wine, Two Brothers Bare Trees Weiss Wine, Smuttynose Wheat Wine, Portsmouth Wheat Wine

American Barleywine

22C. American Barleywine

Overall Impression:
A well-hopped American interpretation of the richest and strongest of the English ales. The hop character should be evident throughout, but does not have to be unbalanced. The alcohol strength and hop bitterness often combine to leave a very long finish.

Aroma:
Hop character moderate to assertive and often showcases citrusy, fruity, or resiny New World varieties (although other varieties, such as floral, earthy or spicy English varieties or a blend of varieties, may be used). Rich maltiness, with a character that may be sweet, caramelly, bready, or fairly neutral. Low to moderately-strong fruity esters and alcohol aromatics. However, the intensity of aromatics often subsides with age. Hops tend to be nearly equal to malt in the aroma, with alcohol and esters far behind.

Appearance:
Color may range from light amber to medium copper; may rarely be as dark as light brown. Often has ruby highlights. Moderately-low to large off-white to light tan head; may have low head retention. May be cloudy with chill haze at cooler temperatures, but generally clears to good to brilliant clarity as it warms. The color may appear to have great depth, as if viewed through a thick glass lens. High alcohol and viscosity may be visible in “legs” when beer is swirled in a glass.

Flavor:
Strong, rich malt flavor with a noticeable hop flavor and bitterness in the balance. Moderately-low to moderately-high malty sweetness on the palate, although the finish may be somewhat sweet to quite dry (depending on aging). Hop bitterness may range from moderately strong to aggressive. While strongly malty, the balance should always seem bitter. Moderate to high hop flavor (any variety, but often showing a range of New World hop characteristics). Low to moderate fruity esters. Noticeable alcohol presence, but well-integrated. Flavors will smooth out and decline over time, but any oxidized character should be muted (and generally be masked by the hop character). May have some bready or caramelly malt flavors, but these should not be high; roasted or burnt malt flavors are inappropriate.

Mouthfeel:
Full-bodied and chewy, with a velvety, luscious texture (although the body may decline with long conditioning). Alcohol warmth should be noticeable but smooth. Should not be syrupy and under-attenuated. Carbonation may be low to moderate, depending on age and conditioning.

Comments:
Sometimes known as “Barley Wine” or “Barleywine style ale” (the latter due to legal requirements, not brewery preference).

History:
Usually the strongest ale offered by a brewery, often associated with the winter or holiday season and vintage-dated. As with many American craft beer styles, derived from English examples but using American ingredients and featuring a much more forward hop profile. One of the first American craft beer versions was Anchor Old Foghorn, first brewed in 1975. Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, first brewed in 1983, set the standard for the hop-forward style of today. The story goes that when Sierra Nevada first sent Bigfoot out for lab analysis, the lab called and said, “your barleywine is too bitter” – to which Sierra Nevada replied, “thank you.”

Characteristic Ingredients:
Well-modified pale malt should form the backbone of the grist. Some specialty or character malts may be used. Dark malts should be used with great restraint, if at all, as most of the color arises from a lengthy boil. New World hops are common, although any varieties can be used in quantity. Generally uses an attenuative American ale yeast.

Style Comparison:
The American version of the Barleywine tends to have a greater emphasis on hop bitterness, flavor and aroma than the English Barleywine, and often features American hop varieties. Typically paler than the darker English Barleywines (and lacking in the deeper malt flavors) but darker than the golden English Barleywines. Differs from a Double IPA in that the hops are not extreme, the malt is more forward, and the body is fuller and often richer. An American Barleywine typically has more residual sweetness than a Double IPA, which affects the overall drinkability (sipping vs. drinking).

Vital Statistics:
OG: 1.080 – 1.120
IBUs: 50 – 100 FG: 1.016 – 1.030
SRM: 10 – 19 ABV: 8.0 – 12.0%

Commercial Examples:
Avery Hog Heaven Barleywine, Anchor Old Foghorn, Great Divide Old Ruffian, Rogue Old Crustacean, Sierra Nevada Bigfoot, Victory Old Horizontal