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Monday, October 14, 2013

Perennial Artisan Ales' Heart of Gold

  • Style: Wheatwine
  • ABV: 10.00%
  • Season: The brewery considers it a Fall beer, but since I bought mine during summer, I'm thinking St. Louis might play a little fast and loose with seasons down there.
  • Ease to locate: Perennial started distributing to Chicagoland earlier this year.  Their website is under construction (and has been for awhile).  Here's a link to their Facebook page.  Or try beer menu for stores that carry it.  
  • Color: A reddish honey gold.  Hazy and solid looking.
  • Head: A fluffy, light beige 2 1/2 finger head.  Oddly enough, very little lacing produced.
  • Aroma: Caramel malts, honey, lots of wheat grains and some light bready yeast.  Light note of herbal, earthy hops as well.
  • Mouthfeel: Slightly syrupy, but leaning towards moderate mouth feel than thick.  Not much carbonation.
  • Finish: Medium and nicely boozy
  • Food friendly: I would probably not choose to serve this with a meal, but as a pre-meal drink.  Put together a plate of smelly cheese, such as Gorgonzola, and tangy cheese, like Edam.  

YouTube link for Apple users:  Charlie Brown knows how Perennial Artisan Ales must feel in the Chicago market
                                                                  I imaging that this is how Perennial Artisan Ales must have felt like when they finally entered the crowded Chicago craft beer market.

Some drinks just lend themselves to certain seasons, even if that wasn't the brewer's original intention.  Sometimes a  beer that is produced all year long just feels more appropriate during certain months.  I first tried Perennial Artisan Ales' Heart of Gold at a small tasting I happened upon early in the summer.  Perennial Artisan  is a young brewery out of St. Louis, Missouri who will be celebrating two years of business on October 19th.  They had just begun to sell their beers in the Chicago market and had a wide array of beers at this tasting to try.   I think it takes a special sort of chutzpa to try to enter an almost saturated Chicago market right now.  We have so many exciting and unique breweries already stationed here that you have to work extra hard to get an out of state brewery noticed.  I'll be honest, while most of them were OK, none of the Perennial brews blew me away.  However, I kept coming back to their Heart of Gold wheatwine.  It was interesting, especially since at that time I had very little experience with wheatwines (I've augmented my education since that time.  The things I do for this blog....)  But the beer just felt wrong.  Out of place.  Like a Wookie at a Klingon convention.  I couldn't quite put my finger on it.  I ended up buying a bomber of the beer.  Mainly because I felt bad for the poor out of state brewer who seemed to have attracted a less than lucrative crowd.  (Read:  locusts who see free booze before them and will hover around as the booze is flowing freely.)  I literally saw one woman try each beer three times because she couldn't remember if she had sampled every bottle yet.  It was like watching a brilliant, but highly lit, con artist play Three Card Monte with plastic cups. I even felt slightly taken advantage of by the time she was passed out on the floor finished.  I opened my bomber recently and BAM!  It hit me what was bothering me.  This wheatwine was practically screaming to be drunk while when leaves cracked under my feet and football blared on the big screen. 

Talk about big heads

My Heart of Gold poured a gorgeous reddish gold color with honey highlights scattered throughout the liquid.  The brew was perfectly hazy and solid with an almost ombre effect in the glass.  I didn't expect such a large head to form when I poured the beer into my pint.  What you see in the photo above was not the result of an imperfect pour (I poured another two glasses out of that bomber and each time, the results were the same.)  The head was two and a half to almost three fingers of fluffy, large bubbled, light beige foam that never quite settled into a drinkable layer.  I was expecting some amazing, clumpy lacing to form from such an abundance of foam, but nada.  Zilch.  No lacing for you today!  I found it not only disappointing, but such a missed opportunity (and made me question if the beer was over carbonated on accident by the brewery itself.)  The beer smelled very sweet with an abundance of caramel malts and honey.  The sweet notes were tempered by those of the wheat grains and a small aroma of herbal, earthy hop bitterness.  A bready yeast scent was layered delicately under it all.  The taste was similar to the nose.  Lot of sweet caramel and chewy, tangy wheat grains.  The herbal and earthy hop notes weren't pronounced, but was still present and distinct.  The 10% ABV was well represented by a omnipresent boozy element.  I found the heat of the booze rather dominant on the back of the swallow, verging on hot and too in your face to be harmonious with the rest of the flavors.  There was very little carbonation was present in the mouth, which I sort of missed.  I know carbonation isn't really expected in a wheatwine, but the syrupiness of this beer could have used something to break up the mouthfeel.  The finish was neither here nor there, medium with the booze note rolling down my throat at the tail.
With a head like that, I was expecting an amazing lace show.
But as you can see, as the foam fell very little lacing was produced.  Such a tease.
Wheatwines aren't known for their wide spread food pairing abilities.  I don't think that I'd recommend serving Heart of Gold with a meal.  It struck me as a sort of appetizer & cheese plate kind of beer.  In my family, we like to have something to nibble on while gathering together to watch football on Sundays.  Of course since one of my sister-in-laws is a personal chef, our football finger foods go well beyond Cheetos and onion dip.  Try this wheatwine with a bowl of Sugar Coated Pecans to capitalize on the sweetness of the beer.  Or completely embrace the Fall season and toast up some Spicy Pumpkin Seeds to round out your cheese platter.  While I wasn't overly impressed with Perennial Artisian Ales' Heart of Gold, I appreciate having an alternative beer to serve during these transitional Autumn months.  A person can only drink so many Oktoberfest beers before she starts to feel like an overstuffed  St. Pauli Girl.