The following is a sample size of brews served during Brewery Vivant’s Wood-Aged Beer Celebration on Oct. 22. Drawing in an estimated 500 beer drinkers, more than 2,250 six-ounce cups of wood-aged and sour beers were served during the eight-hour outdoor event. In all, 11 brews were on tap.
Farm Gris (6% ABV) — Clear with flowing carbonation, this heady golden brew is a slightly sweetened version of Vivant’s Farm Hand. With a light grape-like undertone throughout each drink, Farm Gris is a very refreshing beer. Prickly, yet smooth on the tongue, it’s very drinkable, but slightly dry. Essentially, it’s a more complex take on Farm Hand. While it might lack overall oomph for most beer drinkers, I like that it’s a well-done, simple beer. And because it isn’t overdone with multiple flavor ingredients, the wood flavors were clear. Definitely a must-have for any fan of Farm Hand.
Barrel Aged Brune Firkin (6.25% ABV) — Not much head on the pour, but a bubbly, thin top that lingered, likely the result of its aging. The lack of head is no surprise, as this brew is naturally carbonated (a kickback to beers of old). Bourbon notes were apparent to the nose; hints of sweetness were greeted by mellowed hops, trailing into scents of caramel and chocolate. Each flavor was apparent when I took my first drink, but the flatness caught me right away — very individualized flavors were distinctive. The warmer temperature this Firkin is served at certainly helps get the full flavor effect. It was a crowd favorite, as I heard more “gotta-have-anothers” about this brew than any other.
Angelilah (8.5% ABV) — For its high alcohol content, Angelilah was very smooth, starting with strong citrus flavor and finishing very subtly. A 3-to-1 blend of two sour barrels, the brown brew smelled syrupy, orange and sweet. With a light bubbly head and a some hints of orange coloration, the beer clearly tasted of citrus/orange with some peppered/spice notes. It had a bit of bite on the tongue and lingered in a way that lived up to its description of “naughty and nice.”
Barrel Aged Sgt. Peppercorn (6% ABV) — The first whiff of this deep golden-colored brew was pure spice and it certainly carried to taste. So much flavor, but a balance of sweet and spicy made it so no one flavor was hogging the show. A creamy and smooth mouthfeel, Peppercorn had a decent level of carbonation. On the whole, I was extremely impressed with how everything came together so well for this brew.
Barrel Aged Raz-Rye Porter (7.5% ABV) — Greeted by a clear raspberry scent with a slight hint of vanilla, this porter was very dark, blackish in tint with a brown head. Being a sour, the raspberry taste was tart and sour, but well complemented by sweet chocolatey notes and balanced by some nuttiness that caught me by surprise. Way more flavor that I imagined, the Raz-Rye was creamy and smooth, thick but not too thick, full-bodied and certainly hit the spot.
Barrel Aged Sour Zaison (9.75% ABV) — Perhaps Zaison is the perfect beer to sour, as this rich/golden brew epitomized what sour beer should be. Smells of orange and a vanilla-like sweetness were there — perhaps aged in a whiskey barrel. Creamy, but prickly, the flavor picked up mid-drink and left a lasting aftertaste of orange, pepper and sweetness. This was one confident beer, and it truly hit the mark.