Friday, March 8, 2013

Brooklyn Brewery Grand Cru

[link to podcast page]
WFMU's Beer Hear! with Bob W. and B.R. from 3/7/2013

First released as a Brewmaster's Reserve in 2008, Brooklyn Brewery's Brewmaster Garrett Oliver brought this 8.4% hybrid Belgian Pale Strong Ale/Wit Beer out of retirement, brewing a batch in early January 2013 to send to the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS).

GABS showcases craft beer from Australia and New Zealand, with just a handful of breweries represented from elsewhere. Brooklyn Brewery is one of just three breweries invited from America! The festival was started in 2012 by the founders of the reputed Tap House pubs of Sydney and Melbourne.
Though the bulk of the Grand Cru, reluctantly, will travel abroad, Steve Hindy and company were gracious enough to leave a few kegs behind to share with their friends on a Friday night in the bottling room of the brewery during Craft Beer Week. Wow. What a beer! Why this one is not offered regularly in the classic 750ml bottles, with cork and cage, we don't know, but it should be!

Considering what goes into it, it must be a chore to produce.

style: Belgian Pale Strong Ale/Wit Beer Hybrid
abv: 8.4%
color: 7 SRM
bitterness: 20 IBUs
serving glass: goblet
grains: two-row Canadian barley malt and (20%) unmalted Madsen wheat
hops: Hallertauer and Perle
misc. ingredients: 
  -- NY state-produced honey
  -- corn sugar
  -- bitter orange peel
  -- sweet orange peel
  -- Indian coriander
  -- lemon peel
  -- chamomile
yeast strain: Belgian Wit Yeast

Grand Cru is more often used in the world of vinters, but has its place in the realm of beer, as well, most often used by Belgian brewers to indicate a special or limited edition brew. Brooklyn's Grand Cru certainly meets both criteria.
Just looking at the wide range of ingredients tells you that this is a special ale, starting with the large portion of unmalted wheat in the mash bill, which no doubt contributes to the warm, soft, hazy pale yellow color of the beer. The spices and citrus peels cooperatively meld with the residual honey flavors and chamomile flowers to gently push the flavor profile well beyond the sign post of ordinary, yet far back from the cliff of overkill. It would seem easy to make a quite undrinkable beer from that list of flavorings -- but using them well enough to create this deliciously intriguing delight must be anything but easy.

The beer's aroma is a thing of olfactory beauty, with the wonderful Wit yeast esters dancing in step with the spice and citrus additions, the by-products of wheat malt fermentation creating a delightfully effervescent bouquet.
That it's 8.4% abv is a fact not to be overlooked, or under-appreciated, especially because the beer drinks so easily, with the illusion of a harmless lightness of body. You think that you're being refreshed -- and you are -- but after a few small glasses, you're also quickly on your way from being quenched to quashed!
If ever you get the rare opportunity to sample this one-of-a-kind beer, don't waste it! But also, be careful not to let it waste you!

Full house in the bottling room.

Off to the land down under.
Cheers, Garrett!

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