Beer Review: New Belgium Brewing, (Lips of Faith) Brett Beer
07/21/2012

Ding Points: 50.00

Pour: 50.00, Nose: 50.00, Palate: 50.00, Mouth: 50.00, Global: 50.00

Tasting Notes:

I stopped in at Growlers on my arrival on Hilton Head Island, and saw they had this on tap. The guy was busy ‘educating’ me about, ‘how I’d better like sours’, before I stopped him in his tracks and bought something else. I was reluctant to pay for a growler fill when Lost Abbey has been so remarkably inconsistent over the years; boy am I glad that I did!

Fast forward to a few days later, and I get a chance to grab it on draft. I’m at Bombora’s Grille and the barman there starts telling me about Tart Lychee, and how he prefers it over Brett. I had the Lychee when it came out first, and really enjoyed it, so wasn’t to surprised that he didn’t feel Brett was quite as good. Unworried, I ordered the Brett and these were the results.

New Belgium, Brett Beer

New Belgium, Brett Beer

In a nutshell, perhaps one of the most disappointing beers I have tasted in quite some time.

The pour is not really what I was expecting, with a bright orange hue and some wispy, white head and lace. Quite ordinary to look at.

The nose offers a little citrus (NOT brett and NOT funk), and that’s about all you get in the taste. This is basically a Witbier without the coriander and orange elements! There’s almost no discernible tartness. It’s all well and good describing this as an ‘introduction to sours’, or an ‘accessible beer’, but frankly, that would be just a euphemism for ‘this beer is not a sour/wild at ALL’.

There’s certainly some fruit – pineapple does play a bit – but it lacks ester quality too.

Here’s the issue. If you put ‘Brett’ in the name of the beer, you ‘d better be delivering some significant brett character, and this does NOTHING. Sometimes, if there is a tart element that is too small in a beer that declares itself a Wild Ale or Sour, then I might cut the beer some slack IF we get some decent farmhouse funk and some horseblanket character. However this delivers nothing. In fact, it’s one of the most nondescript beers  one can imagine. It almost seems like a diluted Wit.

In the end, kind of rubbish. A nomansland beer, with a misleading name which would be (kindly) described as bland. Lost Abbey can be stunning brilliant, and woefully disappointing. This beer falls into the latter category. B-L-A-N-D.

Other: American Wild Ale. 7.50 % ABV.


10 Comments

  1. Niklas

    You might find this interview linked below interesting in general, but here are some specifics re Brett Beer from New Belgium’s Lauren Salazar.

    ETF – Let’s talk for a second about the NB/Lost Abbey collaboration “Brett Beer”. Was Brett Beer pasteurized and can you give an idea on the Brett used?

    Lauren- The Lost Abbey is fermented with bretta then filtered, not bottle conditioned. When I talk about pasteurization, I am talking about sour beers- locking a blend in and keeping our stainless cellar clean- this is a different process- we ferment with Brett, then filter the yeast out like other regular beers- we achieve a specific flavor profile and alcohol content and we’re done. The bretta used was a combination of ours and Lost Abbey’s bretta cultures.”

    http://embracethefunk.com/2012/06/26/lauren-salazar-of-new-belgium-qa/

    Reply
    • Ding

      Well……there have been several NB Sour/Tart/Funk/Farmhouse/Brett (call ’em what you will) beers that I have enjoyed, in fact, virtually all of them except this one. It’s painfully nondescript and frankly not very good.

      Reply
  2. Niklas

    I certainly agree with your assessment. As you noted, it’s particularly disappointing since there have been many superb Lips of Faith S/T/F/F/B-y beers. My favorite has been Le Terroir.

    Reply
  3. Clint

    This beer is 100% Brett C., correct?

    Brett C. is the most “mild” of the Brett strains. It tends to be somewhat fruity with minimal “funk” when it is young, before developing a subtle funkiness as it ages.

    Not sure what strain is in this, though.

    Reply
  4. Barm

    Brettanomyces. It is only five syllables. Brettanomyces.

    Reply
    • Ding

      I assume you are speaking to New Belgium & Lost Abbey, and not me. They are the ones that named the beer, ‘Brett’!

      Reply
  5. Sam

    I’m writing a piece on brettanomyces in beer right now and these two recent 100% brett beers have received some interesting response that has in part inspired me. They were both fermented primarily and 100% with brett, without extended aging. When brett is used like this, its character is much more like a Belgian Saccharomyces strain. There won’t be tartness and there won’t be funk on any level that you are used to in a lambic or secondary-fermented/aged beer like Orval. So your assessment that it is similar to a witbier is actually pretty accurate and what it should taste like.

    I also didn’t love the beer, but you just have to understand that it wasn’t supposed to have the funk of a beer like Orval, and never will since it was pasteurized.

    Reply
    • Ding

      Interesting. Well, perhaps it would be better (given that like me, I assume that most people will be anticipating something ‘funkier’), to leave the word ‘Brett’ out of the actual name! However, I suppose I might say to myself, ‘Self, you need to be more educated about the specifics of the role of Brett in varying circumstances’. Another question might be (and I suspect there may be a good answer), if one is not going for funk, why use Brett at all?

      Reply
  6. Sam

    I think they missed a good opportunity to educate their customers about the different qualities of a Brett primary fermentation. Instead, they set people up to expect a more typical secondary fermentation brett flavor and then disappointed them.

    I don’t think anyone is going to go through the trouble of using Brett for primary and not mentioning it though. You get some interesting fruity and bready flavors that aren’t quite like Saccharomyces, though they are close to some Belgian strains. At this point, 100% Brett beers are still in the experimental stage, and I doubt you’ll see many as regular products from breweries. Secondary fermentation will likely remain the dominant use of Brett in brewing.

    Reply
    • Ding

      Well, if the primary fermentation is not providing much distinct character that cannot be achieved by other, easier methods, then it seems like a waste to be bothering with Brett at that stage. Not only is it creating an experience that people are not expecting, it also seems like a colossal waste of time!

      Reply

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