Little Earth Project: The Brett Organic Stock Ale 2017 (England: English Strong Ale: 10.5% ABV)

Visual: Cloudy apricot.

Nose: Funky. Lemon curd and lemon cake. Crushed nuts. Oaks. Stewed apricot. Cake sponge.

Body: Tart yet oily. Acidic apples. Tart grapes. Stewed apricot. Dry white wine. Dried apricots. Hop oils. Lemon. Slightly dusty. Yeastie. Raspberry late on. Toffee.

Finish: Dried apricot. Tart jiff lemon. Lemon cake. Dry white wine. Gooseberry. Hop oils. Popcorn. Brown bread. Raisins and dry sherry. Vanilla yogurt. Dusty bitterness. Funky.

Conclusion:This is both heavy duty and tart freshness, with both elements complementing and contrasting the other so neither become too overwhelming. A good start.

First impressions are of a yeast funkiness worthy of a lambic coming out in the aroma, with oats, nuts and similar backing it up in that lambic way. However, instead of the crisp dry notes of a lambic what it is backed by is thick, heavy stewed fruit that tells you instantly that something different is coming up.

The body is next, tart but thick with hop oils giving an oily base of stewed fruit acting as a solid middle. The tarter lambic like notes are laid on top of that robust body, used sparingly like spice to add to a meal.

The after that tart notes lead out into the finish and it then it finally sinks back into hop oils, darker fruit and dry sherry notes as a distinct contrast to the brighter middle. Even here though there is a white wine air that the brett uses to bring more lambic imagery.

Despite the lambic like calling this is a thick oily, almost old ale feeling traditional styled British beer. There is lots of the slightly more cloying tartness and thickness rather than the clean lambic sheen – however in the middle of the beer the flavours owes little to the dark heavy old ales. While it has the tart and thick old ale character mentioned, but here it is pushed in a brighter, lighter fruit and tarter notes. Mixing the thickness of an old ale with the freshness of a lambic, and pushing stewed apricot and lemon fruit notes that actually feels like a call to new world hop stylings. Eventually these bright notes do descend though and it falls back into those darker fruit notes of the more traditional take in the finish.

This isn’t super polished, it feels more like a beer that evolved naturally, left to find its own way rather than being polished and designed to an ideal. It feels organic in how it developed within the guidelines of the ingredients used, and it shows that in the wide range of elements delivered. It is nowhere near single minded as a beer, nor organised -scatter shot in how it throws things out. However it throws them out full bodied, mixing traditional elements with twists of style. Well worth trying as long as the idea of something a bit more haphazard does not put you off.

Background: This one caught my eyes for a number of reasons – the very simple label, with seemingly hand stamped details upon it of the beer’s name. The fact it is a take on the old stock ale that was traditional for so many years in the UK, the fact it is loaded with brett which is always an interesting yeast to see that adds acidity and funk to a beer, or the fact that over 10% abv this is never going to be dull. Any which way I grabbed it from Independent Spirit and tucked it away for trying on a later day. So, the day finally arrived, I put on the ever good for slow, heavy duty drinking music – Godspeed You! Black Emperor! – Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas To Heaven, and broke it open.

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