Thursday, May 8, 2014

Westbrook Brewing Company - Gozu

One of the best things about having so many breweries in the market today is that it's forced brewers to really think outside of the box. Few beer drinkers today are going to saunter up to the bar at your new brewery and go straight for a beer called "Standard Blonde Ale." They're going to walk in, check out what's different on your beer list and try that. And if your offerings look bland (especially here in San Diego), they're probably going to walk 30 feet down the street to the next brewery. To combat this, there's been an influx of what I like to call "WTF is THAT style?" beers. Many styles that were near extinction have been dredged up and brought back to life, often with a modern twist. This can definitely be said for the Gose style.

A gose is a German style of beer that's pretty similar to a Berliner Weisse. There is, however, one very major addition- salt. A gose is a tart wheat ale brewed with coriander and (strange as it may sound) salt. When done right, this style can be insanely refreshing and it's low ABV makes it a perfect hot weather beer that you can crush like nobody's business.

The most prominent American example of a Gose is made by a brewery in South Carolina called Westbrook Brewing Company. If that name sounds familiar, it's likely because you've seen it on Evil Twin's bottles. They rent out a ton of their brewing space (80% by Evil Twin's founder, Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø's, estimate) for Evil Twin's use. But what Westbrook does with their own space has been quietly gaining steam, led by their Gose. While I'm still on the hunt for their standard Gose, I was able to come across a version of it brewed with an East Asian fruit called Yuzu. Let's check it out. 

Gozu pours a hazed and dull-looking apricot color with a half-finger white head that disappears pretty quickly. I wouldn't exactly call the appearance overwhelming, but luckily the smell more than made up for it. Gozu is definitely one of the craziest smelling beers I've ever come across. Right away, you get blasted in the face by a huge amount of citrus and salt. There's a ton of sweet lemons, salt, limestone, margarita mix, lime syrup and umami. Some of those things might sound a little strange. They're not. Everything in here works together really well. This beer smells incredible. 

The initial taste you get with this beer is like licking a Meyer lemon that's been dipped in salt. Cocktail sauce, light crackery malt, citrus peel, tangerine and some sour pink grapefruit all show up in the middle. The finish gives you the barest touch of wheat and finishes with a lingering lemony saltiness. I've had a decent amount of beers in the Gose style, but none of them pulled it off quite like this. It would be very, very dangerous for my bank account if this was distributed here. It's so good. Easily one of the best beers I've tasted all year. Amazing work, Westbrook.

Final Grade: A+

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 132

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Logsdon Farmhouse Ales - Peche 'n Brett

Let's say there's this beer you really want to try. It's from a brewer you love, it's brewed with one of your favorite fruits, it has a sweet looking label. You're in. Only you can't find it anywhere and everytime someone you follow on social media tries it, they're hashtagging #whalezbro. So what are your chances of of ever trying that beer? Unless you're an avid trader or live right next to the brewery, your chances are probably not too great.

This is how it went for me with Logsdon's Peche 'n Brett for a few years. It was released in 2012 and bottled again in early 2013. But I never saw a bottle, never heard of anyone in San Diego finding a bottle, and on the rare occasion I did see it on untappd... you guessed it: #whalezbro. Then, by sheer chance, a shop nearby got it in and I was able to snag one in time. Sometimes you just get lucky. At #133, Peche 'n Brett.

Peche 'n Brett pours a hazed apricot color with a tightly carbonated two finger bone white head. I've had issues with Logsdon beers practically exploding out of the bottles in the past, but this one seemed pretty tame, which was nice. I didn't want any of this one to go to waste. When you smell the beer, the first thing you pick up is peach. But it's not the sweet peach puree-like smell I was expecting. It's a tart, underripe white peach aroma blanketed by a dusty layer of barnyard funk. Hints of sweetness creep into the smell periodically, but the brett in here really keeps everything in check. Deeper in, you get some great spicy oak notes. This beer smells incredible.

The beer opens on the tart side, with some peach and peach skin coming through first alongside a trace of underripe raspberry. A huge wave of barnyard funk follows, leaving a dry and tannic feel on the tongue. Soft oak notes, brett, peach pit and chalky malt all take their turns peeking out from under the blanket of funk. Everything in here just works. Each element works together seamlessly and the peaches really take this beer to another level while never becoming overly sweet and beer-soda like. The mouthfeel is medium and just a touch creamy, with the slightest hint of warmth on the swallow the only trace of the 10% ABV. This beer is really incredible. Definitely worth hunting down.

Final Grade: A

Top 250 Beers Tasted: 134