Style: Kombucha Beer
I think I speak for many beer drinkers when I say that one of the best parts about the craft beer industry is the overwhelming variety of beers on the shelf.
We’ve come a very long way from the German beer purity law from 1487, The Reinheitsgebot. It simplifies beer quite drastically, and it states that beer may only contain barley, hops, water and yeast — the last of which was only included 400 years after the law originated. Prior to our good friend, Louis Pasteur’s research, we had no idea what yeast was!
Somewhere along the way, our beloved beverage evolved into innumerable variations. I have to guess that when the folks at Unity Vibration got started, they often daydreamed about doing unspeakable things to original, hand-written copies of the Reinheitsgebot.
Unity Vibration’s kombucha beers combine a fermented tea beverage that has a 2000-year-old history with organic cane sugar, fruit sugars and organic hops. The result is a rather interesting, gluten free and moderately high-ABV fermented beverage.
The Bourbon Peach American Wild Ale came with a few surprises, as well as a few familiarities.
Appearance: Pours with a hazy straw color, and almost no head. Since there are no sticky glutens and proteins to help keep the foam around, this wasn’t too surprising. The last bit from the bottle poured extremely hazy, indicating that yeast had settled to the bottom of the bottle after some fermentation and carbonation in the bottle.
Aroma: Like it or not, the beer is very aromatic. There are some peach and light fruit notes in the aroma, but the acids created from the wild fermentation dominate. Frankly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the heavily acetic aroma, but a kombucha drinker should be no stranger to this.
Taste: This is where the fruit flavors come out to play. The acid character is much better balanced with a decent forwardness from the peach. There’s also plenty of light fruit and white grape notes present. The acids feel much more reminiscent of a lambic-style beer, which is certainly fine by me.
The beer feels medium-bodied, but it’s a complex relationship between the acidity, carbonation and actual sweetness. Additionally, the 8.0% ABV is slightly detectable as a faint booze character, but unfortunately, bourbon and oak were almost completely undetectable, which I was a disappointed with.
Mouthfeel: This is perhaps one of the more interesting parts of the beer. The acidity, the carbonation and the sweetness have a really delicate balance that allows forwardness from all three, without feeling syrupy, or overly dry.
Overall: The Bourbon Peach American Wild Ale is definitely worth trying at some point, although I would encourage its drinkers to approach it without even the slightest expectation, unless you’re familiar with Unity Vibration’s fermented anarchy. There are plenty of unique, new flavors going on and it’s worth it to taste and break down its components, even if you’re not a fan of the forward acidity.