Monday, September 10, 2012

I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty (Things Beer and Ale Project)!

Just looking at the number of posts from this year as compared to last has been shocking to say the least, dispicable to say the least.  So, since I keep taking so damn long to do new posts and reviews, I've decided to simplify things a bit and focus on one particular beer as much as possible, and save those massive, time-consuming posts for every so often.   So, without further Apu, here's a nifty little blonde I had the pleasure of picking up in Buffalo, who was a bit hard to get, but was certainly worth the wait.

Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project is a new brewery on the scene that has been gaining increased attention of late due to their seemingly bizarre takes on traditional styles, out-there bottle artwork, a name that suggests an association with a 70s revival band, and the fact that they don't actually have a brewery.  The "Project" is meant to be quite literal, in that - as the website claims - "projects can change, they can end," because this isn't necessarily a long term solution.  Here's why:  the Project's founders Dann and Martha Paquette, homebrewers from Massachusetts, haven't been able to afford a brewery, so instead they rent one, and use it to brew whenever they can.  The Pretty Things team provides all the labour, the ingredients and the initiative; all the brewery has to do is give them use of their facilities.  Bottling, label design, and packaging are all done by the four (!) members of the team, and the result is a brewery that looks, feels and is independent.  Despite all this, the brewers seem to have figured out their business to the point that their wares can be found in many spots around the Northeast, as far as Western NY and Pennsylvania.   Here's a quick look at their flagship brew!

Beer: Jack D'Or
Brewery: Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project (Cambridge, MA)
Type: "American" Saison/Farmhouse Ale
ABV: 6.5%

Their flagship brew is called Jack D'Or ("door"), and is described by the label as being a "Saison Americaine", with the "Americaine" usually meaning that it is a traditional continental style of brewing that has been jazzed up with American style hops and perhaps a different yeast strain or malt.  Sure enough, a gander at the PT website gives us those ingredients: classic earthy hops often used in English or Belgian Brewing (Fuggles, Styrian Golding), as well as an American "C"-hop (Columbus), that will give the brew a stronger citrussy punch.   Another addition is the use of rye grain into the mash, along side the typical wheat and barley malt that is normally found in a farmhouse "saison."   My prediction here is a brew that is light, citrussy (puckery, rather than light lemon), and with a good earthy character.  We shall soon put this prediction to the test!

Tall 22oz bottle (they only do brews in this size, which is fine with me) from Consumer Beverages in Orchard Park, NY.  Consumer Beverages is a small chain of beer stores found throughout the greater Buffalo area, and although the selection at each varies somewhat, they tend to all have a great variety of craft brews from the Northeast, as well as the usual big suspects (Stone, Bear Republic, Dogfish, Great Divide, Goose Island, Oskar Blues).  Definitely a great spot to go for a Buffalo Cross-Border Beer Run, at any rate.  As usual, Pretty Things utilizes some trippy artwork on the bottling for Jack D’Or that is most certainly worth a second look.  The bottle label explains that this mustachioed fellow is supposed to be a barleycorn lord of some kind (sporting a pin straight from the annals of Screaming Lord Such) standing in a mash tun.  Intriguing to say the least.

Poured into my trusty Duvel goblet, which has definitely become my go-to glass when I'm not exactly sure what glassware to go with.   Golden, lemon drop yellow in colour, with a sturdy head of an inch or two.  Slightly hazy.

Nose is quite pleasant and floral, with subtle notes of lemon, funk, herbal hops (Styrian, and, for the American Saison touch, Columbus), perhaps a bit of peach or other fleshy fruit lingering in the back as well. 

Dry, grainy, and with a good balance of citrus, herbs and bitter funk, this brew is quite enjoyable.  The finish is long and bitter with a lingering citrus pith and herbs flavor.  Wheat malt is subtle, but there.  Great brew, this is: dry and flavorful.  Slightly creamy, good carbonation, slightly astringent.  The addition of American hops is a common method to "re-invent" an old style of brewing, and usually the end result is pretty good.  This brew is no exception.

I’ve been consistently impressed from Pretty Things, and this brew is no different.   The Americanization of the Saison paid off pretty well with the citrusy bite and assertive bitterness.  I will get this one again for sure if I come across it.   

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