The other night a good friend of mine invited me over for some beers as part of a club he and a few friends formed. Devoted to tasting and evaluating new beers, Beerhunter is right up my alley. Casual and fun, but truly devoted to serious beers, just like the people in the group.
The meeting coincided with an important junction in my career as a buyer for a retail store: mild obsession. That’s right. Now, the fact of human nature is that we love trends, and go on certain streaks. There was a time in college when I ate samosas every day, although looking back, there was a lot of economic necessity in that habit, too, as the lovely little dumplings were running a buck apiece and filled me up more than most other foods. I digress. Right now, just like everyone else in the beer world, I have been on a funky beer kick. And I do mean funky! As in, wild yeast-and-dirty-sock-smelling funky. Brettanomyces and sour ales funky. I cannot help it. The beers are just. so. good. Fortunately, our beer-drinking customers share my enthusiasm!
So, upon invitation to the Beerhunter meeting, I swore to, figuratively and literally, bring the funk. And I did! I traveled down to Hyde Park, laden with a bottle each of Victory Brewing’s ‘Wild Devil’, which is their Hop Devil IPA brewed with Brettanomyces yeast, and the Jolly Pumpkin ‘Bam Noire’, another of my favorites: a dark farmhouse ale with a little sour tang on the finish. We tasted about nine beers that night, and all were lovely, and quite distinct in style. I am pleased [okay, smug] to note that mine were certainly among the favorites, and I was commended for truly “bringing the funk.” I cannot take too much credit, however–the need for funky beer is somewhat beyond my control at this point.
On an anecdotal side note, I will never forget the first time I heard of Brettanomyces. It was November of 2007, and I was at LUSH on Roscoe preparing for the vertical tasting of Goose Island’s Bourbon County Stout. I was a relatively newly minted Lushie, and as such, not quite the beer devotee I now am. Greg Hall was in the shop, chatting with Rachel and me, talking about some new projects of his, including a beer that was to be brewed with something called “brett.”
“OO!” I said, trying to participate in the conversation. “What kind of bread are you using?” Rachel and Greg just stared, and then Rachel gently explained what the special yeast is. To say I was a little embarassed would be an understatement. But, time moves forth, and that little project turned out to be Juliet, one of Goose Island’s most successful and sought-after beers.
And now I know the difference between bread and Brett. Given the choice, I choose the latter.