Sunday, November 5, 2017

Lost Rhino's Alphabrett

When it comes to beer, few would approach a beer that is described with terms such as "green apple," "sour cherry" or even, in a rare case, "horse blanket." I am one of those few.  The reason is that I recognize those descriptors.  They are words being used to describe a beer brewed with Brettanomyces or "Brett."  It is a wild yeast (or actually, a few different strains of wild yeast) that produces rather unique flavors that require an open mind and a palette that can embrace some really acidic and sour flavors. 

The use of Brett has been in vogue for quite a while.  Over the past few years, I have reviewed several beers brewed with the wild yeast.   Of those beers, the one that I like the most is the Orval, the Trappist beer brewed in Belgium.  The tart tones of the beer set it apart from its Trappist brethren.  A close second would be the Le Fleur, Misseur from New Belgium.  It is hard to believe that I reviewed those beers back in 2011, nearly six years ago.

A few months ago, my beautiful Angel took me on a tour through Virginia craft beer.  The last stop on the tour was Lost Rhino Brewing.   After trying a couple of the beers, I bought two beers from the brewer's Genius Loci series.  This series of beers display the brewer's creativity and experimentation.  The results are beers that differ greatly from the standards that grace the taps at the tasting room or local restaurants.

One beer in the series is the Alphabrett, a brown ale brewed with Brett and aged for two years in barrels.  The beer is brewed with pilsner, crystal and chocolate malts, Saaz hops and a combination of St. Bernardus yeast, along with Vlo yeast in the barrel.  

The Alphabrett pours an earth brown color, with some rust hues, which one would expect with a barrel-aged brown ale brewed with Brett. The brewers describe the beer as "prevalent green apple notes that go hand in hand with a pleasant sourness."  I think that description is largely accurate.  The aroma was difficult to ascertain, but I could get some faint hints of green apple and other Brett aspects.   That faint aroma is belied by a very strong flavor.  Prevalent means widespread, and there is a lot of green apple in the taste.  The sourness hits the tongue with the first sip, and never lets up.  With each additional taste, the sourness transforms from green apple to sour apple candy, with some pepper notes along the edges.

In the end, this is a very good beer.  I wish I had bought a second bottle of it.  (I actually bought two bottles, but the second one is a different Genuis Loci beer - that will be a review for a different time.)  This beer is not for the faint of heart or taste, but, if you like something different and something sour, the Alphabrett is worth a try.


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