Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Tasting Notes: Biere de Coupage (Brett Fermented Wit)

When I told J I was making a witbier she asked me why, and with good reason: neither of us like them all that much.  Its probably in part because I haven't sought out many good ones, but in my limited experience witbiers are often creamy and a little sweet, whereas I prefer dryer beers that finish bitter and/or sour.  Its no surprise, then, that the wheat beers I tend to enjoy have a tart snap to them (like Jolly Pumpkin's Calabaza Blanca , or New Belgium's Snapshot), nor that when I've brewed wheat beers in the past its been styles like berlinerweisse or gose.  And yet here I was, brewing a straight up witbier...  Well, kind of.

The original inspiration for this beer came from an old article by Chad Yakobson in Zymurgy.  It included a recipe for a brettanomyces-fermented wit---probably an early version of Crooked Stave's St. Bretta.  I'd never tried that beer, but I thought it might be interesting to brew something along the same lines and ferment it with a couple of strains of brettanomyces.  As I mentioned in the earlier post, I was a little disappointed with the finished beer, so at bottling I cut it 3:1 with a no-boil sour I brewed earlier this summer.  Tasting notes below are for this blended beer.

Appearance: Hazy yellow colour.  Head retention is OK from a vigorous pour, but I like a more billowing head on this one.

Smell:  Very light grapefruit and general citrus, with a musty brett funk beneath it.  Aroma comes across as slightly sweet, if that makes sense.

Taste: Starts with doughy and slightly sweet wheat, and rounds out with a nice tartness at the end.  Grapefruit is there in the background, but I'd like it to pop out more.  Probably partly a result of using out of season fruit, but maybe I need to change other aspects of my process (adding more zest, adding juice, changing when I make these additions, etc.)

Mouthfeel:  Carbonation is a little low.  It begins with a fairly full and creamy mouthfeel, but the tart finish cuts right through it and makes the beer very moreish.

Drinkability & Notes: To my taste, cutting this beer with the no boil sour improved it immeasurably.  Where before it was cloying and dull, its now quite refreshing and drinkable.  There's no sign of over-carbonation yet (and if anything, I wish carbonation were a little higher)---I'm not planning on aging any of this, but I'll keep at least one or two bottles around for a month or so to see if this changes.  Perhaps the tartness will increase, along with the carbonation? I would also like the citrus to be more forward, and the whole thing to be brighter, but all things considered I'm satisfied with how this turned out.  I might even make another witbier some day soon!

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