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Monday, March 3, 2014

Lake Effect Brewing Company's Session Brett Ale

  • Style: American Wild Ale with a Pale Ale base
  • ABV: 5.50%
  • Ease to locate: A small brewery (scroll down to see my The Espresso Gone Stout post of a few weeks ago) but easily found in Chicagoland craft beer stores.  You can find them on Beer Menus or like them on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to learn about deliveries.  
  • Color: Golden amber & very clear
  • Head: A little less than one finger head of soft, white carbonation.  Delicate, web-like lacing
  • Aroma: Only slightly funky with some fruitiness and honey sweetness.  Earthy hops round out the profile.  A very clean and mild nose
  • Mouthfeel; Light to medium with a palate scrubbing dryness
  • Finish:  Short and dry
  • Food friendly: American Wild Ales often go well with fruit because of their acidity.  Because this is such a mild, Pale Ale based Wild, I think even a noobie can easily pair it with something like roasted poultry or  white fish.  Try a creamy cheese, like baked brie (and if you add some fruit to it, such as cranberries, all the better)

 Apple users' link: You're wearing the shirt of the band you're going to see? Don't be that guy.
                                                                                                       Even George wisely knows that some times you just gotta bring the funkBecause we want the funk.

Most of my non craft beer obsessed friends have absolutely no idea how many varieties of beer there are out there for them to be completely oblivious  to. Recently I was dragged kicking and screaming to enjoyed an evening at a local dive bar   a humble and homey neighborhood establishment with some of these blissfully beer ignorant folks.  They gleefully enjoyed their bottles of Bud Light and Corona (yes, with a lime.  No, I only rolled my eyes once.  It was a party.) I was happy to discover that they had a few cans of Half Acre's Daisy Cutter behind the bar (I didn't want to consider just how old these cans were or why the bartender asked me if they used real flowers in the beer.  I just said yes.)  I was ecstatic when the bartender offered me a clean glass with it.  OK, the clean part may have taken  two tries, but at least it wasn't frosted.  In any case, the slightly dented can of Daisy Cutter was a hell of a lot better than anything that I was expecting to drink that evening and helped to spark some interest in the people that I was out with.  And where there is a spark of interest, there is always the possibility of fanning that spark into a full fledged fire.  Or at least get one or two people to try something new.  The next night we were gathered for another get together (yes, my life is obviously just one big party.  No, I didn't consider it a huge weekend because I was social both Saturday AND Sunday night.  Well, maybe.)  I took the opportunity to introduce my friends to the glorious wonders of Brettanomyces.
I am responsible for only 2 beers in the above photo.  And it's NOT the Redd.  Although they drank that first.  Sigh.

Brettanomyces, AKA Brett, is a type of yeast used in creating some wonderfully funky, earthy, yet incredibly tasty beers.   The name actually means "British fungus" which, by the way, is another AWESOME name for a band if you're keeping count.  The yeast can be pitched into the beer during the brewing process (like in Goose Island's Matilda), added directly to the bottle (as the Orval Trappist Monastery does) or aged in a wine barrel (Russian River is a great example of this.)  Some of my favorite ales get their wonderful funkiness from Brett.  But if you aren't used to the intensity of a pure Brett beer, baby step beers are the way to go.  And Lake Effect Brewing Co has made the perfect shallow end of the pool sort of Brett beer with your name on it.  Well, I suppose, only if your name actually is Brett or if you have a sharpie and decent penmanship.

My Session Brett poured a golden amber color that was clearer than I had expected.  My largest experience with Brett brewed beer is mostly Saisons and Farmhouse ales, which are traditionally a bit hazy and juicy in appearance. As you can tell from the photographs, this beer was rather see through.  Of course I needed to remind myself that it was not a Saison, but an American Wild with a Pale Ale base.  A slightly less than one finger head formed of soft, just off white foam.  As it fell, the head left behind a low webbing of spun cotton lacing.  I could smell the sharp fruitiness of the Belgian influence immediately.  A very mild note of funk lurked under the fruit scent.  A bit of malt sweetness and some hoppy earthiness rounded out the nose.  It was a clean, approachable and simplistic sort of Wild Ale nose.  The taste had a bit more going on, however.  I tasted tart, cidery apples with a hint of lemon.  Some honey sweetness and cracker notes were layered into the taste.  The funkiness of the 100% Brett emerged towards the back of the swallow, but in a very "oh, hey guys, didn't see you there" sort of way.  I was expecting it to be fully in my face, but instead the funk lingered around the edges.  The earthy hops, which helped to ground the flavor profile, was a welcome addition.    The body was light and dry, which again, assisted in it's ability not not scare off a Brett noobie.  A short and dry finish really assisted in making this beer a great dinner ale.

I would serve Lake Effect's Session Brett Ale with any sort of meal that would benefit from some tart, earthy, funkiness.  Think Rosemary Roasted Chicken cooking in it's own herb juices.  The tartness would also work with the delicate yet herby Halibut baked with Chives, Capers and Tarragon.  I didn't convert everyone at the party to the abundant joys of Brettanomyces.  Hell, I wasn't even able to get one person to pronounce Brettanomyces correctly.  But a few of the guests did finish their glass and one actually asked me to write down the beer's name.  There is something to be said for a light touch when producing a bold style of beer.  Now, Lake Effects is a relatively young brewery and it's possible that subsequent versions of this beer will be heavier in the funk aspect.  I'm personally looking forward to sampling their raspberry infused version of this beer at a local tap take over this week.  And yes, some of those newly converted Brett heads may be with me.  Now I'll just have to figure out a way to get them to drink pink beer.