No, I’m not dead. A month and a half absence from posting about beer and pork doesn’t necessarily speak to my doom… I’ve just been busy. How about a beer review?
What with all the rush to file before the America Invents Act takes effect, I’ve hardly had time to snag some new beer. Today’s brief detour to the new beer section at Friar Tuck’s redmediated that problem. After my successful beer flight at Kirkwood Station Brewery, I was pleased (if not a little surprised) to see Kirkwood Station 51.
What exactly is a “wine barrel aged Belgian style saison with Brettanomyces ale aged in wine barrels” besides hyper-descriptive? I’m familiar with Belgian style saison beers, and I can make an educated guess about wine barrel aging (even if they strangely printed it twice on the same label). But… Brettanomyces?
Wikipedia tells me that Brettanomyces is a common wine yeast, often viewed as a contaminant in beer unless you are talking about certain Belgian or Lambic style beers. I learned something today!
Atop the beer is a neat wax cap, a la Maker’s Mark, adding a little style to the beer. Cool!
(several minutes later…) So it took a razor blade and a putty knife to get this wax off the bottle. I’m not joking. Put in a pull tab or something fellas. I shouldn’t be risking yet another finger injury just trying to open a beer. It went from neato to huge hassle in 10 seconds.
Once I FINALLY opened the damned beer, I had moved from optimistic and thirsty to slightly annoyed and thirsty. Pouring the beer, it sure smells good. Very fruity and flowery smell (perhaps due to the Brett yeast?). At 8.5% ABV and aromatic, this is yet another one of them sippin’ beers.
The first sip was extremely flavorful. I was taken aback by the overwhelming sweetness, sourness, and slight bitterness all mingled together. Sure, my palate was messed up from a few thousand calories of Girl Scout cookies and some lesser beers that I had consumed within the past hour, but this would have been surprising to anyone at any level of palate cleanliness.
As the sips progressed, I began to appreciate the layers in this beer. Minimal effervescence, wonderful cloudy amber color. It’s been reviewed as good-but-perhaps-not-great during its brief release time. Really a persistently strong Belgian flavor that erred on the sour side, though I’m not typically a sour beer fan.
Despite the need for a hacksaw to remove the superfluous wax ornamentation and the extremely troubling double mention of wine barrel aging in the beer label description, I found that the overall character and flavor of the beer made up for the perhaps-too-strong bite that accompanied the early sips. I’d buy it again, and that’s a good first step.
My recommendation for Kirkwood Station 51 is Drink This Beer.