Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Brux & Branca.

 Brux & Branca, by which I refer to two disparate but intriguing items. Item one: the collaboration beer between Sierra Nevada & Russian River Brewing co. Item two: the Italian liquer Fernet Branca which takes its name from the eponymous amaro. They are completely unrelated, but I liked the alliteration.

I recently had the opportunity to sample Brux which is a self title "Domesticated Wild Ale." They do the initial fermentation with a Belgian yeast strain followed by a secondary fermentation in bottle courtesy of Brettanomyces Bruxellensis. This particular strain of brettanomyces, or brett, is native to the Senne valley near Brussels (Bruxellensis.) I tasted it with my friend, and assistant brewer to Iron Hill Wilmington, Andrew.

It appears that this strain of brettanomyces, a yeast long known to produce rather... unique, flavors in beer and wine, is the same one used by the Trappist brewery Orval. They brew what I consider to be a very well made and iconic Trappist ale; needless to say these 'merican boys have some stiff competition. Taking that into consideration we tasted the beer, and we were quite impressed.

The flavor profile is marked with spice and a certain freshness, while being a very well balanced beer. Frankly, the beer was delicious and I think it has some very interesting aging potential (plus the $15 or so dollar price tag is fairly reasonable for what you get out of a 750ml beer.) All I can say is snag it while you can find it as the beer is on limited release.

As for the Fernet Branca part of the equation, like I said unrelated, but it was brought back to my attention twice in as many days. One occasion was the appreciation expressed by one Alfred Pennyworth in the Dark Knight Rises, the other was a particularly good article from the NPR food and wine blog describing this digestif as having a divisive and cult like following by mixologists in the know. I had my first experience with Fernet on the rocks at a bar in the Mallorcan tourist town Can Picafort, it was an invigorating experience to say the least. The article explains it in greater detail, but it's time to join the club if you've never tried it.

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