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Monday, September 15, 2014

Solemn Oath Brewery's Foux Du Fa Fa

  • Style: Imperial Farmhouse IPA.  Yeah.  That's not made up at all.  Just like Grandparent's Day.
  • ABV: 10%  Because what Saison isn't at least 10%?
  • Ease to locate: Most Chicagoland craft shops. The distinct labels make Solemn Oath bottles easily stand out on a shelf too
  • Color: Bright orange and yellow, relatively clear
  • Head: One finger white foam that falls immediately.  No lacing.
  • Aroma: The Cyrano De Bergerac of beers.  Lots of grapefruit, lemon with a little doughy bread and fruit esters.
  • Mouthfeel: Moderate body.  Surprising lack of syrup and dryer than expected 
  • Finish: Medium.  Mostly citrus transitioning to bready yeast to a lingering grapefruit
  •  Food friendly: Yes.  The drier body and citrus forward flavors lends itself to lighter pairings such as chicken salad or crab dishes.  Avoid anything delicate or spicy.

Apple User's link: Making up holidays is easy. Getting people to buy gifts for you on them is hard.

                                                                                                                                                            Festivus for the rest of us

I'm pretty sure that the smartest man alive is not, in fact, Stephen Hawking.  Albert Einstein?  Hack. Leonardo DiVinci? Italian Hack. Nope.  The smartest man alive is the gentleman who created Grandparents Day.  And Sweetest Day.   And  Bosses Day (seriously.  Bosses already get our blood, sweat and tears.  Do they really need a card and a cake too?).  Hallmark has created an entire business modeled on the notion of just declaring some random day of the week as something special and tell people to buy a piece of folded cardboard to celebrate it.  Genius, right?  So yes, I was slightly skeptical of Solemn Oath labeling their Foux Du Fa Fa beer as an Imperial Farmhouse IPA.  To me, an IPA is an IPA and a farmhouse ale is definitely not one.  Right now in the craft beer world, IPAs are sort of the cool kids on the block.  Everyone wants to have at least one in their group.  I thought that this might just be some frustrated Hallmark marketing guy's idea of the perfect sort of trending beer.  But as I drank my glass, it became clear to me that Solemn Oath is no Hallmark (partially because their greeting cars are always rather of soggy and smell of wort.)

My Foux Du Fa Fa poured a bright orange and yellow ale with golden highlights and amber hues. It was a lovely color, very juicy in apparenece but still somewhat transparent.   A delicate, soapy one finger head of very white foam rose in the glass and just as quickly fell.  It left no real lacing to speak of, just a ring around the surface of the ale.  The nose was strong in this one (Star Wars Day is May 4th) The typical IPA aroma was easily detectable without even raising the glass from the table.  Basically it was a grapefruit and citrus bomb ( Grapefruit month is February.) I could also smell some subtle scents of nectarine and apricot under the citrus notes.  I could definitely tell why they called this beer an IPA, but I honestly wasn't getting any sort of farmhouse elements from the nose at all.  The taste was very similar to the aroma.  Mostly grapefruit, lemon, a little orange zest with stone fruit esters such as the nectarine and apricot.  I did find a pleasant doughiness to the profile which helped temper all of the citrus elements.  My best guess ( National Take A Wild Guess Day is April 15th) is that the yeast strain used in this beer was Belgian in nature. It was the doughy yeast that kept this beer from just being your typical boring old IIPA.  A medium body with no real hint of syrup also lead to the somewhat confusing hybrid nature of this ale.  Imperial IPAs often veer towards the syrup end of the mouthfeel spectrum, but this one was still rather crisp and much drier than I had expected.  There was no alcohol heat on the finish either.  Foux Du Fa Fa certainly did not drink alike a 10% ABV ale at all.( August 8th is National Surprise Day.)

I would serve my Foux Du Fa Fa with slightly delicate items that a normal IIPA would not pair well with.  Try it with a fruity Chicken Salad with Walnuts and Cranberries.  The citrus notes will brighten the creaminess of the sauce while enhancing the juiciness of the chicken.  If you want a more sustainable meal, drink this beer with Crab Cakes (although I would skip the tarter sauce with this beer) and a Green Salad with Mandarin Oranges.  Crab almost always benefits from a hit of citrus. If some one had told me that Solemn Oath would make a crazily named hybrid Imperial beer that would pair well with light foods, I would have laughed your suggestion off as ridiculous.  Apparently National Learn Something New Today is September 14.