Greetings everyone!- As promised at the very beginning of our JANUARY 2015 BREWERY OF THE MONTH feature for Unibroue, we wanted to fit in a “Quick” BrewView of a VERY RARE, EXPERIMENTAL dark ale brewed by Master Brewer Jerry Vietz. This BrewView is a first on the web, and EXCLUSIVE to Belgian Beer Journal.
At 10% ABV, Bret’t’art (pronounced “Brett Art”) is a unique experimental dark ale homebrew that has been dry hopped, and refermented in the bottle with Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, and Belgian candi sugar. The name evolved from the fact that this was a beer that was a first time brew for Jerry, and that he reflects on “The ART of Brewing.”
According to Jerry, he recently tasted his “Bret’t’art” beer was the week of January 4, 2015. The time before that was back in October-November 2014, (because he does not have that much on hand) and commented that the beer had evolved “quite a lot” in just 60 days. “The intense dry hop character mellowed out, and the tart notes of the Brett married into the beer.” He went on to say that he began brewing this beer in September – October 2013 (he was not 100% certain of the initial brewing date) but was certain that it was bottled in March 2014. Therefore, the beer we are BrewViewing is 10 months old!
NOTE: Samples of Bret’t’art were sent to the GREAT ALASKA BEER AND BARLEYWINE FESTIVAL held in Anchorage, Alaska this weekend (the same weekend this BrewView is posted- January 17th, 2014). So, very fortunate beer tasters at this beer festival also got to taste this magnificent beer! However, we were sent our sample at the very beginning of January 2015… so we are the first… ha ha! 🙂
APPEARANCE / THE POUR:
Poured into the Unibroue tulip-shaped taster glass, and served at 59°F. Pours a chocolate-brown, tobacco color with a light beige colored head. The head poured an easy 3.5 finger height, with dense bubbles. As the head collapses, the Brussels lacing it leaves behind evenly sheets the glass. (We ensured this was a “Beer Clean” glass). The meniscus is medium rising. There was a dark cloudiness to the beer, due to the bottle conditioning. Rim variation color- slight variation, but not much. About 6 minutes later before even tasting, the beer held a thick 1/2″ head- very impressive for a Brett beer. When we roused up the beer, it kicked up nearly a 1-inch head again that held for a few minutes.
AROMA / BOUQUET:
The second we opened the bottle and poured it into the glass, you could smell the fantastic Brett aromas from the beer- (even before we stuck our nose into the glass). This was an exciting moment! We got intense milk chocolate and caramel. But because of the Brettanomyces, you also get a bouquet of a chocolate covered cherry. The marriage of aromas is amazing! The Brett aromas do not overpower the beer, rather they compliment the malt and (now very subtle) dry hop aromas. We also detected deep raisin notes.
One of our immediate impressions was chocolate mixed with grape must. At around the 6-7 minute mark before even drinking, Bret’t’art began expressing aromas of deep baker’s chocolate, almost a cacao aroma. Deep cherry cordial aromas begin. The funk aromas have their “barnyard” notes, but very delicate… and immediately following. Around 15 miuntes, very faint buttery notes mixed with an oddly sounding descriptive- soy sauce. That may be an unusual way to describe the aromas, but trust us… it isn’t in this case. There are almost no hop aromas present- they are very faint. Around the 25 minute mark (yes we took our time experiencing this beer) more buttery notes are detected, as it almost develops a “quad” character- toffee and raisins with soft funk. It reminded us of how Tootsie Roll candy smells…
Wow- there is an immediate grape must / grape skin tartness from the Brettanomyces mixed with bitter cocoa. The barnyard funk does not overtake the malt sweetness, but gives it a nice chocolate-covered cherry / cherry stone flavor.
MOUTHFEEL / PALATE:
As we put our ear to the beer, it had Jerry’s signature effervescent sparkle in it. That is not common in Brett beers. Medium bodied, the effervescence hits the very tip of the tongue, and fills the top and the very back and sides of the mouth. The chocolate-like sweetness from the malt mixes with an almost tannic feel, and lingers in the mouth and at the back of the throat. At 10% ABV, the ease of drinkability is outstanding.
FOOD PAIRING SUGGESTIONS:
APPETIZERS: Charcuterie platter with mild to semi spicy sausages. Blue veined cheeses- Stilton, Roquefort. Washed rind cheeses, triple cream bries, Port Salut, and goat cheese if you are adventurous.
ENTRÈES: Scehzwan or Mongolian beef. Pomegranate duck, Seared duck breast with grape sauce. Heck, we’ll have this beer with Moules-frites… we’re just that way!
DESSERTS: Anything chocolate and cherry! Chocolate and cherry cheesecake, chocolate and cherry Trifle, chocolate fondue, or just plain and simple fresh cherries. Why not try eating some Tootsie Roll candy with it? That would be interesting…
We were VERY PRIVILEGED to get the chance to taste this rare and extremely delicious treat from Jerry! Bret’t’art is a marriage of two of our favorite types of beer- (Belgian dark ales and Brett beers). By this time, you may be asking yourself, “Is this going to be an upcoming release from Unibroue?” Unfortunately, it is not available on the market, anywhere. The ONLY other people in the United States who got the chance to taste Bret’t’art were the beer fans at the GREAT ALASKA BEER AND BARLEYWINE FESTIVAL… that’s it!!
Bret’t’art is one of a kind for sure, and unlike ANY beer we have ever tasted in our 34 years of tasting beer. Will it become part of Unibroue’s beer portfolio? Let’s hope so. Time will tell…