Wednesday, June 18, 2014

REVIEW: 1st Place: Tropic Thunder (100% Brett Trois APA)

This is my second attempt at a low abv, session IPA with 100% Brett fermentation.  The first wasn't that good, and I ended up dumping the last gallon or so of the keg.  This one turned out much better.  But of course, even when using Brett as a primary strain, it is still a wild yeast and can do some things you weren't looking for.  The evolution of this beer in only a matter of weeks is far different than a normal Sacc fermented beer.  When it was judged a few weeks ago at a BJCP comp it exploded out of the glass and was awarded 1st place against 14 other American Pale Ales.  At the Best of Show table a judge caught a medicinal note in the finish that knocked it out.  When I told everyone after the judging was over that it was a Brett beer, no one knew.  Of course, there was no funk in that beer, just the medicinal finish.  Since then the beer is starting to show some funk in the nose alongside the fruit, and the esters have started to fade a little as well.

Aroma:  9/12
Big burst of North West hops and esters hit first.  Hard to discern where each aroma comes form, is it the Brett or the hops.  Starts with pineapple and mango, gives way to pine drops, and some grapefruit pith, floral hop notes, and a touch of the funk.  There is a little sweatiness in there, not sure if that is some Brett funk or Amarillo as I have gotten it from this hop before.  Beyond this are some plum skins, rosy alcohol, and gooseberry, all layered over a toasty malt backbone.

Appearance:  2/3
Pours into my IPA glass a hazy burnt orange under 2+ fingers of thick and rocky tannish head with small, tight bubbles.  The head drops to a thick ring that lasts the whole way down, constantly re-energized by the glass design.  Leaves spotty lace down the glass, should be better with all the hops in there.

Taste:  15/20
Taste starts off with a low level of funk which starts to show the nature of the Brett.  This gives way to juiciness, over-ripe peach, and sweat (hello Amarillo).  There is some yummy pine cone in there from the Simcoe, mango, and floral hop notes (mild geranium).  Hop oils coat the tongue.  A touch of dankness hits before you get the toasty malt.  Medicinal note in the finish, as well as a soft but noticeable bitterness.

Mouthfeel:  3/5
Body is light on the tongue thanks to Brett not producing glycol in beers (and breaking it down in beers where it is present).  Spritzy carbonation tingles all around the mouth (keg keeps overcarbing, even at low 40s the Brett is continuing to attenuate the beer more).  Dry finish gives way to a lingering bitterness and phenolic note.

Overall:  7/10
Wonderful blend of big hops, bold fruity esters, and mild funk.  The beer is fading from its former glory upon judging though.  Starting to move towards funk and away from fruit, and the medicinal note is distracting from what would be a great end.  Still a very enjoyable, quenching, juicy, hoppy, fruity, refreshing session beer.  You just want another pint.  Need to find a way to make this beer again without the phenolic and funk creeping in so quick.  Might back off on the Carafa a tad too and lighten it up a touch, but not much.  Brett doesn't flocc well at all so it remains muddy, an lighter color could help with this.


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