Sunday, November 13, 2011

Beau's Dr. Jeykll and Mr. Hyde

After months of nothing but the enjoyable Lug Tread Lagered Ale to satisfy my Beau's cravings, I made a simple prayer to the divine gods and goddesses of ales to send some more Beau's brews my way.  Sure enough, in October I was blessed to see Dunkel Buck in the LCBO, and damn was it enjoyable.  To my great fortune, however, the Beer Gods were well pleased with my humble, pious request, and granted me another great boon - and this one got me all giddy in a real hurry.

Beau's of Vankleek Hill, Ontario has been pumping out limited release, experimental brews as part of their "Wild Oats" beer series, which so far has included a Scottish gruit-style ale, a classic German Altbier, a rare Belgian Imperial Stout, and the aforementioned Dunkel Buck - to name a few.  To mark these brews as being part of the Wild Oats family, each experimental brew is given a number - Dunkel was Wild Oats #13, for example.  Number 14, as we shall see, is....a little bit different.  (Much thanks to Jerry Coburn of Beau's for sending these brews my way - many cheers to you!)

May I present to you: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!

Yes, for batch #14, Beau's has gone the split-personality route, and offered two brews for the price of one.  These brews are, of course, named in honor of the titular character(s) from the 1886 novella by Robert Louis Stevenson - a tragic examination of the dual nature of humankind, as well as being a cheap metaphor for any time anyone expresses more than the slightest degree of a temper.  Like the gentle doctor and his madman creation, these two brews represent completely differing styles: the gentlemanly Dr. Jekyll being a respectable Marzen beer, and the empathy-lacking Mr. Hyde a robust and well-hopped rye beer.  The fantastic artwork of these bottles - which at once call to mind the frantic and outrageously coloured album covers of many an 80s metal band - are the work of Ottawa artist 'Dirty Donny,' and are pretty high on the Kick Ass scale.  These should be a real treat.  Oh, and for those interested (i.e., all of you), Beau's hinted on their website that Jekyll and Hyde represent the "first installment in our self-described 'Split 7 Inch' series" - hopefully this means more double-brew packs in the very near future!
"Egad!  Two brews at once!  AGGGH - My Victorian sensibilities!!!"
Keeping in tone with the story, let us begin with the brew of the good doctor Jekyll...

Beer: Dr. Jekyll
Type: Maerzen/Koelsch Blend
ABV: 5.4%

Dr. Jekyll is, appropriately, an experimental brew that is the result of blending two of Beau's favorite brews - their flagship koelsch "Lug Tread Lagered Ale," and their limited release Oktoberfest maerzen "Nightmaerzen."  The light, citrussy and well-hopped koelsch should pair well with the bready, sweet flavors of an Oktoberfest brew - should be a real treat!

Poured into a nonic Beau's glass. Rich honey golden in colour, slight haze, a good frothy head that survives as a thin ring with some lacing flecks here and there. Looks like a deeper version of Beau's.

The nose is very pleasant - sweet white bread, honey (big honey, actually), cracker, mild lemon, German Hallertau style hops from the Lug Tread.

Less sweet than the nose led on (how appropriate for Dr. Jekyll...), this brew boasts a nice breadiness, citrus, honey and finishes with a strong hop presence. Lug Tread with a bit more heft - quite enjoyable. Moderate body (more so than Lug Tread), a bit oily, mild late-arriving carbonation.

An enjoyable blending of two popular Beau's offerings, Dr. Jekyll is certainly a brew I could see myself enjoying on many an occasion. Mild-mannered, but with a bit of character and flair for experimentation - this brew fits the Dr. Jekyll name well. (Grade: B+)

Having consumed the contents of Dr. Jekyll's miraculous potion, let us transform ourselves into the monstrosity of Mr. Hyde!

Beer: Beau's Mr. Hyde
Type: Rye Beer
ABV: 6.7%

Poured into a dimpled stein glass. Dark caramel, though not as dark as other rye/roggenbiers I've encountered thus far.  Big billowing head, lots of lace, great retention.  A stellar looking brew!

Nose is rye bread, a bit of caramel, mild citric hops.  Admittedly I've had a bit of a cold recently, so my nasal passages are not at their tip top shape. 

Now this is an interesting take on the rye style, as it seems to have a lot in common with an American style IPA.  Sure enough, according to the online description, Mr. Hyde has indeed been "hopped aggressively" with American style citrussy hops.  The brew is nice and bready at first, with a hint of dark German loaf or pumpkernickel, and is also woodsy, spicy, and sweet with a touch of caramel.   In a flash there is a transition to a robust hoppy finish with a bit of citrus thrown in to the mix.  This finish is long and refreshing. Moderate-high carbonation, slight creaminess.

The name of this brew could not be any more appropriate. It starts off as a mild mannered and a little bit quirky German-style rye brew, before the potion kicks and the brew lurches and convulses into a woody, citrussy American IPA. The finish, however, is a little bit from of both worlds, tricking the tastebuds into thinking that somehow two brews - two personalities, if you will - have occupied the same glass.  A real autumn treat. (Grade: B+)

A great twin set that really served me well over the course of a cool, November weekend.  Now, there is a chance that one might have expected - indeed, may really have been hoping for - a more aggressive, extreme style of brewing to be associated with something from a "Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde" set.  The extreme artwork very much hints at this possibility.   Yet the brews do not really fall in to this camp.  And this is by no means a bad thing!  I applaud Beau's for sticking with their guns, which tend to be of the more classic Germanic style of brewing, in this latest offort.  Sure, they could have gone with something truly insane for Mr. Hyde - a massively hopped IPA, barleywine or Russian stout, for example - but instead, they went for something far more approachable and familiar, yet by no means any less exciting.  Just because the craft brewing tides seem to be pointing towards these extreme methods of brewing, this doesn't mean that one has to go in that direction, nor should they!

In this experimental series, Beau's has taken some standard recipes of their own, and tweaked them into something totally different.  What's more, the naming of the set is very appropriate: while the two brews are vastly different from one another, as Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jeykll were, they were nevertheless cut from a similar cloth.

Hopefully these brews are able to find themselves out of the "limited" selection and into the "seasonal" release - because I think they've got something here.

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