American Wild Ales and my annoyance with reviews of them
Recently it seems there has a been a surge of great American Wild Ales hitting the market, such as the Sierra Nevada/Russian River collab Brux and Three Floyds Battle Priest. I see many reviews for these beers complain that they are not sour enough for them. These particular American Wild Ales are what some call “Brett” beers because of their use of the wild yeast strain Brettanomyces. The use of this wild yeast places these beers in the American Wild Ale category; however, this does not necessarily make them a sour. I think maybe because the top rated beers in this category on Beer Advocate are sours, most people now think that no matter what all American Wild Ales will be aggressively sour. Brett does change the beer when fermenting and aging by bringing out some sour/tart notes as well as a fruity funky character but not to the extent of a beer such as Supplication. To get a ramped up sour kick like that you introduce bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. These interact with the Brett when fermenting and give the beer a more extreme sour taste that so many seem to think all wild ales should have. Take Three Floyds Burning Priest for example. I had this today and it was excellent. It’s a Brett beer aged in Pinot Noir barrels. It was a fantastic beer and a surprisingly true representation of the style along the lines of a Orval, but in typical Three Floyds fashion, a bit more blown out. A few early reviews on Untappd refer to this beer as a sour and complain that there was not enough sour kick for them. This makes no sense and these beers are getting dinged because people have false expectations for them. This annoys me and I had to rant. Sorry for that, I hope maybe you learned something or perhaps agree with me on this. Either way let me know your favorite Brett beer. Cheers!
Sierra Nevada - Hoptimum
I recently snagged a 4-pack of Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum double IPA. This released a short while back but I’ve seen about 2 to 3 cases show up at various locations around my area this past week. That being said it isn’t quit as fresh as it was the first time I had it. Don’t let that dissuade you though, this beer holds up very well.
I want to take this time to stress that you should NEVER cellar a beer like this. IPAs and especially Double IPAs are meant to be drank fresh and crisp. Ideally you should keep them refrigerated from bottling to the moment you crack the top off. Obviously not all liquor stores have a ton of refrigerator space but still when you bring a hoppy bottle of deliciousness home, put it in the fridge and drink that shit sooner than later. It seems people figure if something is limited they should age it no matter what. This is very much not the case. Ok, rant/educational corner over.. now back to the review.
As stated this a limited once a year release from Sierra Nevada. You might think this is just going to be a hopped up version of Torpedo. It’s certainly not. The hop profile, malt backbone, and hopping schedules are unique to this brew. They use a whole slew of whole cone hops German Magnum, Simcoe, Citra, Chinook as well as proprietary varieties. Hoptimum comes in at 10.4% abv. The nose is not overpowering at all. I can smell this sucker all day. It has a great hop citrus and piney nose on it. It’s not going to overwhelm your nose it just smells good. You don’t pick up much of any malty scents, which is what I want a beer called Hoptimum to be like. I love the taste of this brew. It hits you with a delicious very well balanced hop character on the front of the tongue. This being a little older now I’m getting a bit more bitter taste in the middle than before. It finishes very crisp and easy. You get the best of all worlds, a nice West Coast citrus character, some East Coast Pine, and balanced like a great Midwest brew. The 10.4abv is hidden incredibly well and never creeps into your palate to spoil the fun. Although there are certainly DIPAs out there that provide a bigger hop bomb on the palate this is one of the most balanced (while still living up to the name) and easy to drink DIPAs that I’ve had. The malt backbone is perfect in that it lets the hops shine and doesn’t take anything away but also keeps those same hops in check just enough to make this so easy to drink. Some Double IPAs can be a tad to thick and almost creamy for me. Hoptimum is a fairly light crisp beer and great for outside on the deck drinking. If you can find a few 4-packs pick em up. One other good thing is that this being Sierra Nevada it’s reasonably priced. I paid 7.99 and consider that well wroth the price of admission. If not just for that sweet label! Cheers!