Monday, January 28, 2013

Brewery Vivant/New Belgium Brewing Escoffier - Gus #38

Good Monday to all you guys out there.  Hope everyone had a great weekend and had some great brews.  I had a few good ones this weekend but those will come later.  Today's review is one that I had the weekend before last.  It was an interesting brew I got in a trade.  I shared it with a couple of friends that I'm working on getting into craft beer.  I was surprised (as I think they were too) that they liked a good many of the brews we sampled in the mini bottle share.  This one actually came in a can.  It's brewed in Grand Rapids, Michigan by Brewery Vivant.  They add a strain of Brettanomyces given to them by New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, Colorado.  I have recently become enamored with anything containing Brett strains.  I have started a couple home brews using this wild yeast and will even be doing one this weekend.  I love the sour and barnyard flavors and aromas it gives brews.  I've had a few other commercial beers containing Brett, I even reviewed one from The Bruery in California called Rueuze.  Will this one live up to my now rising expectation of sour/wild ales brewed with Brett?  I'm definitely ready to find out!  Read on for my review of the collaboration brew, Escoffier, from Brewery Vivant and New Belgium.

How it rates with others:

ratebeer review:

Information from the website:

About the Beer:
Style:  Sour/Wild Ale
Alcohol by Volume:  9.25%  (the label above states 9.5% but my can had 9.25%, probably different batches)
IBUs:  N/A

"Escoffier is our much heralded collaboration with New Belgium Brewing in Ft. Collins, CO. Coinciding with their entry into Michigan, this project began with a friendly meeting at our pub. After a few beers and some food, the idea to brew a beer together started to take shape.
Auguste Escoffier is considered the master chef of the 20th century. His ideas and methods left an indellible imprint on the culinary world, and are still in use to this very day. We named our beer 'Escoffier' to celebrate the relationship between great food and excellent beer, and how they elevate each other when enjoyed together. If you've ever visited our pub, this is the cornerstone of what we try to accomplish."


"This beer displays our Farmhand yeast and a wild yeast from New Belgium's brewery called Brettanomyces. Expect a brew that is somewhat dry and malt forward with the "horse blanket" funkiness synonymous with brett. This beer will only get better with time, and cellar well for years to come."

Great with:

"This beer is made for delicious food, so have fun and experiment! Try it with some yeasty bread, stinky cheese, or mushrooms."

I poured this brew into three glasses.  Mine was a Cigar City snifter.

Appearance:  The beer poured a rich golden straw color.  Slight hints of copper and orange.  Had very little head with my pour.  I may not have been very aggressive as I was saving some for some others to have.  Ring of large and small bubbles around the edge of the glass.  Very little lacing left behind as well.  Good carbonation, though not very high.  There were some bubbles coming up from the bottom and sides.  Definitely some alcohol legs grabbing on to the side of the brew.  Relatively clear.   I was expecting some haze in this one.  Very nice appearance.  It was extremely inviting to take a sip.

Aroma:  The smell of this one started off with a hint of sweetness.  Maybe like a candy sugar sweetness.  This was followed by a bit of a fruit aroma.  Maybe dried fruit or candied fruit.  Then the funky aromas started to come in.  Hints of wet hay, little bit of vinegar and then an earthy dirt aroma.  Kind of like wet dirt mixed with old wet hay.  It wasn't super strong though.  Not just blaring out.  I know this because if it had been just super strong it would have ran my friends off.  Instead they liked the aroma.  The sweetness balanced out all of the funk and earthiness that the brew had in the aroma.  Not one bit of alcohol detected at all.  They hid the high ABV well.  Most of the wild ales are able to do this with extended fermentation.

Taste:  Just as the nose suggested.  Started off a little different than the aroma with a flavor of sweet orange right at the beginning.  Then followed a little hint of green apple mixed with apple vinegar.  Some of that candy sugar or dry fruit right at the back of the mouth.  Aftertaste was a mix of lemon tartness and the wet hay.  Hints of the earthy and vinegar were there too.  Just tart enough to quench a thirst and dry the finish.  Really makes it easier to have another sip.  Again, no alcohol present at all.  Not even a warmth in the belly as it sat.  Very good flavors and mouthfeel.  Just on the edge of medium-light.

Verdict:  All of the factors above make this a super easy drinker.  Almost scary how easy it would be to take a couple of these down.  Super refreshing and the tart finish just makes you want to take another sip.  I'd really like to grab a couple of these and let them age a while.  I think it would develop more funk as it sat.   Right now it has just enough funk to know that it is an ale brewed with Brett.  Being as I'm drifting more and more into loving the sour/wild ales, this one did not disappoint.  I'd love to try this with something like a mushroom-swiss burger.  Just like they describe I think it would pair perfectly with the earthy mushroom flavors and bitterness from the cheese.  I think if more people tried a brew like this, it would open them up to the style.  A lot of people run away when they hear the terms: wild, funky, barnyard, earthy and wet hay.  They think they will be off putting.  After they tasted a beer like this they would realize how it works all together to make a very tasty brew.

I'm going to give this one an A.  In my limited experience (bet ever growing) experience with sour/wild ales I really enjoyed this one.  Enough to be sad when the can was finished.  I was glad to share it with the guys I did.  We sampled a few more that night that I will post up I'm sure.  It was interesting to get their take on the brew as they haven't had anything like that before.  

If you have any experience or have a favorite sour/wild ale, let me know.  If you want to work up a trade to trade some of your local sour brews too let me know.  I'm always up for a trade.  Comment, subscribe and follow us to let us know what you think.  Also look us up on Facebook.  See you in the next review!