Similar to last year, we decided to have a big Thanksgiving get-together complete with craft beer pairings. This year we decided to brine the turkey in a beer-based brine, using a bunch of old homebrew Kolsch. We also went with a redeye gravy that featured Dogfish Head Chicory Stout instead of coffee. The Bruery's offerings were an ideal choice since they are both new to Indiana and feature a number of spiced and Belgian style beers.
Over the course of my HBG/KOTBR career my appreciation for certain styles of beer has developed in strange ways. Lately I'll find that before really falling in love with a style, I first fall in love with the idea of the style.
For example, ever since we participated in our beer and cheese pairing with the folks at Goose the Market (thanks again, Gabe - we're thinking about you) and a reintroduction to beer from Brasserie DuPont, I've grown to love the idea of saison - the light, tight and refreshing farmhouse ale from the south of Belgium. To be fair, I'm in love with the idea of anything Belgian right now - from Eddy Merckx and the spring classics to bad weather and waffles. The love of ideas can be dangerous - often times the final result or product behind that love fails to live up to the hype.
Perhaps that's why The Bruery's Saison Rue was so pleasing - a light flowery nose, a subtle front and then a full flowery fruit finish were exactly what I had in mind. The light mouthfeel and delicate balance of flavors throughout were good enough to put this near the top of my list of favorite saisons. 4.20 Mugs
After meeting my expectations perfectly with the first round, The Bruery's Autumn Maple was a sort of let-down. The description reads as follows:
Brewed with 17 lbs. of yams per barrel (in other words, a lot of yams!), this autumn seasonal is a different take on the “pumpkin” beer style. Brewed with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, vanilla, molasses, and maple syrup, and fermented with our traditional Belgian yeast strain, this bold and spicy beer is perfect on a cold autumn evening.With all of that going on, my expectations were extremely high - I was hoping for a sort of sweet potato superbeer. Instead what I got was a similar pumpkin beer nose - spicy cinnamon and red-hot candies, followed by a heavier-handed pumpkin-ish flavor. Had I just expected a pumpkin beer (and had I not looked all over town before I found the beer (at PartiPak)), my rating might be higher. A lovely pumpkin beer - but not what I had hoped for. 3.24 Mugs
Our final Bruery beer of the evening was Two Turtle Doves - a beer obviously meant for the Christmas season. Notes of licorice and chocolate came from the nose, but upon first sipping my thoughts immediately turned to tobacco. Warming and yet balanced, earthy and slightly fruity - it's a beer that might benefit from age - or it might be perfect right now. In either case, it's one that I think I'd enjoy. 4.20 Mugs
Giving thanks for...
...things spicy and peppery. Big and bold and spiced. Like the pepper bacon in the brussel sprouts dish that Mike and Gina brought. When I tried the Saison Rue, I thought maybe I still had some pepper in my mouth. Nope, that's just the way this golden slightly sour beer rolls. 3.49 mugs.
...things sweet and starchy. Sweet potatoes are a must have at my Thanksgiving table. My grandmother fries sliced sweet potatoes in butter and brown sugar. So really, the potatoes are just a vessel to carry other flavors. Much like the Autumn Maple. The sweet potato beer (think pumpkin beer) is best used for carrying the sweet flavor of maple syrup. I think this copper colored beer with a filmy mouthfeel needed another shot of maple syrup. 3.24 mugs.
...things dark and hot. Like hot chocolate that has been "Irished up". Two Turtle Doves offers a beer of spiked hot cocoa. It is dark like coffee and has a dark chocolate nose, but isn't overwhelmed with chocolate flavor. Because of its high ABV, this beer is very "hot", perfect to take along while wassailing this yuletide season. 3.95 mugs.
I had been cooking and baking for the past two days prior to this event, so I was a bit out of it before our little get together. Don't take that wrong; I'm not complaining. I actually volunteered our house to host and I do a huge Thanksgiving meal for Jess and me every year because I love cooking that much. But two full days really takes it out of you. I hope my notes are coherent...
Basic saison style nose with brett, lemon and a hint of spice (perhaps cinnamon?). This is actually a very good example of the Saison style. It begins fairly light and champagne-like with slightly sour notes and a bit of lemon. A lot of spices are present, such as sage, coriander and black pepper. Saisons, including this one, typically finish dry which make them excellent for pairing with food.
Pairs well with turkey and stuffing.
Fruity and sugary up front with a lot of cinnamon. Although the more I think about this, the more it makes sense; this beer really tastes like a good pumpkin beer. Notes of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and maple syrup all round out a solid pumpkin or butternut squash style sweetness.
Pairs well with sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie (kind of obvious).
2 Turtle Doves
Not a lot going on in the nose besides cocoa and molasses. I get the impression of spicy imperial stout up front and the beer definitely follows through. Lots of dark chocolate, molasses, honey and bourbon. The strong roasted malts almost have a burnt marshmallow-style carcinogen character. I'm also getting some cherries in here but I'm not sure why. After I read the description on the bottle I started to pick out some toasted nut flavors as well. I would like another bottle of this to lay down for their Vertical Epic-style aging experiment.
Pairs with most desserts rich in cream, butter and chocolate.
I'm the backup when Rodney is in the kitchen so my notes are a little less discombobulated. I have a sweet gig going here; he makes the food and I get to eat it. That does mean I get to clean all the dishes though so maybe he has the sweet gig of making a mess and I clean it up?
Mr. Rue pours out cloudy and dark golden with a contrasting stark white head. The nose on this bad boy is very lemony and when I take a sip I get lemon and brett in the first taste. On second taste I let it roll around my mouth a little more and I get maple syrup and just a hint of roast beef. I think I need to give more Saisons a chance but they all end up tasting like either meat or flowers. I give this 3 mugs.
This was the one of the three that I was most excited for as I love all things sweet potato. I don't know what I was expecting though because it just ended up tasting like a pumpkin ale. It poured out looking like very thin maple syrup and had a very spicy, orange peel nose. The flavor there was a very sugary pumpkin pie. Almost tasted like candied pumpkin. I'd drink it again for sure though, giving it 4 mugs.
2 Turtle Doves
This pours very dark and thick with very little head and lots of oomph. It's not as thick as Dark Lord but has a lot of the similar notes. I get a LOT of booze on the back end of this and it would definitely stand up to some aging. I made the comment that it was like someone mixed Dark Lord with cherry cough syrup. Lots of nutty chocolate notes but also a hint of cherry syrup. I'd give it 3.6 mugs only because of how boozy it was.
Overall Mug Scores
The Bruery Saison Rue: 3.67 mugs
The Bruery Autumn Maple: 3.57 mugs
The Bruery 2 Turtle Doves: 3.96 mugs