Monday, May 13, 2013

Oud Bruin – Grand Teton Brewing

                OudBruin, originally released in 2007, is making a repeat appearance for Grand Teton Brewing’s 25th Anniversary Cellar Reserve series line-up.  The Grand Teton Cellar Reserve series is the epitome of what good craft beer should be.  The only downside is that the beers in the Cellar Reserve series suffer from a limited distribution, and are often hard to find too long after the release date.  Periodically a bottle can be found; I just picked up a bottle of Snarling Badger, the 2012 summer release a month ago; and found a 2010 Coming Home last November.  If you can find any of the Cellar Reserve back catalogue in your local liquor store, it is definitely worth the purchase.

                The summer Cellar Reserve release is, like last years a sour beer that is meant to be aged for the full sourness to develop.  That doesn’t mean that you can’t open it as soon as you get it, I sure did.  All that it means is that this beer has some evolving to do in the bottle, yes this is a beer that you will want to pick up a case (or at least a few bottles) of, try some now and age the rest.  Good Oud Bruins are hard to come by and it will be exciting to continue to try this one as it ages and becomes increasingly sour and more complex.  Although, I really shouldn’t be jumping into the review up here, I am getting way ahead of myself.

                The 2013 Cellar Reserve release of Oud Bruin does not have an ratings on Beeradvocate or ratebeer because it hasn’t been released yet.  The previous iteration has an 81, with a 90 from the Bros on Beeradvocate.  Over at ratebeer, it has a surprisingly low 44 overall with a 5 for style.  I can’t say I am too surprised by the ratebeer rating because the ratings there are woefully inconsistent when it comes to good beer.  On to the review!

They Say:

2013 marks the 25th anniversary of Grand Teton Brewing.  In celebration, we’re bringing back three of our favorite styles for this year’s Cellar Reserve Series.  Our Oud Bruin was first brewed in 2007 and quickly became a brewery legend.

The “Oud Bruin” or “old brown” style beers, brewed in & around Oudenaarde, on the Scheldt River in East Flanders, are notable for their complex combinations of malt, long boiling times (which provide caramelization of the wort), and multi-strain, top-fermenting yeasts, some with lactic and acetic character.  These are often “provision beers,” bottle-conditioned for cellaring, to be brought out when they can be savored.  Their thirst-quenching sweet-and sour character makes them perhaps the most refreshing beers in the world.

Our Oud Bruin lies firmly in the East Flanders tradition.  We used American 2-Row barley and German melanoidin malt (for red color) as well as maize (to lighten the body).  The wort was boiled in the kettle overnight and hopped lightly with Idaho Galenas for balance.

We fermented with a Flemish blend of yeast and bacteria cultures, including Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and Brettanomyces.  It took six months at cellar temperature for the culture to achieve the style’s characteristic quenching sourness.  The beer is unfiltered, so we expect the flavor to continue to develop and become even more complex over the next two years in the bottle.

Because of its lactic and acetic sourness, this is a wonderful beer for cooking and pairing with food.  Unlike any wine, Oud Bruin complements vinegary dishes such as salads or even pickles.  Its flavors will enhance those of shellfish, liver, rabbit, and game birds like quail.  The acidity of the beer tenderizes beef and is ideal for braising—try it in the classic Belgian Carbonade Flamande.

Original Gravity (Plato): 17˚
International Bitterness Units: 17
Alcohol by Volume: 6%
Color (Lovibond): 23˚

Oud Bruin will be available May 15th, 2013 in 1/2 and 1/6 bbl kegs and bottle-conditioned 750mL cases.

Brewmaster Rob Mullin adds:

Oud Bruin is still alive and changing in the bottles.  Every week when we taste it, it continues to evolve and change.  It is considerably different now than it was when we did the first batch of bottles.  When we bottled it, it was very complex, malty, and a little fruity, but probably not sour enough for an Oud Bruin.  Honestly, I am a little nervous about what it will be like when it is released on May 15th.

We used the Rosalaire Red yeast blend, which is supposedly the Rodenbach yeast.  It is an excellent yeast blend that continues to evolve and reaches its peak after about two years.  In two years, the Oud Bruin will be a very different beer, it will have a tart and sour complexity while hopefully maintaining the malt and fruity ester complexity that it currently has.

Oud Bruin Tasting Video from Grand Teton:

I Say:

                Oud Bruin pours a very clear brownish/cranberry red with a moderately thick light tan head that holds excellent retention, lasting even until the last sip and leaving behind exquisite, thick, Belgian lacing.  The aroma has notes of raisins, figs, treacle, toffee, a hint of sweet sherry, and a low level of caramel, rounded out by a slight sourness at the back end.  As it warms, the aroma picks up an orange note.  It has all the pleasant malt and fruity ester complexity that is key to a good, solid Oud Bruin.

                The flavor is moderately malty with toffee, caramel and hints of milk chocolate.  This beer has tons of complex fruity esters: figs, dates, plums and raisins; as well as very low level spicy phenols, that blend into the flavor well and a low to moderate sourness in the finish.  There is a slight funkiness in the aftertaste.  Oud Bruin has a medium body, with a moderately low level of carbonation.

                This is an excellent beer that will be moderately sour and refreshing this summer and continue to pick up added complexity as it ages.  I highly recommend that you pick up at least a few bottles, one for now and two for aging.  I know that I’m going to be picking up at least three bottles, if not more depending on the local availability and bottle limits.  Check for it in stores on or after May 15th!

                That’s all for today, but be sure to check back later this week when I will have a very cool interview with Rob Mullin, the Grand Teton Brewing Brewmaster.

                 Happy Drinking!!

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