Food + Wine

Barnyard, Band-Aids and Bleu Cheese…

Those three things don’t necessarily sound like things you want to smell or taste in a drink, do they?


OK, so…what if you add the word sour on top of it…how ’bout then?


Yeah…that’s understandable.  But, let me explain what I’m getting at here…

I wrote recently about sours in a Thirsty Thursday post, more specifically the Gose from Westbrook Brewing Company.  That style of beer isn’t for everyone and I understand that, but I love trying new and different things…it keeps me young 😉  And today we’re talking sours again…but this time I’m talking about a beer made by one of my favorite North Carolina Breweries, Wicked Weed, called Amorous Sour IPA.  Wicked Weed Brewing is based out of Asheville and their stuff is GOOD.  And unique.  And…pricey.  But, like I mentioned in the last sour post, it’s worth it if you understand what goes into brewing their beers.  This beer, this Amorous, is incredible.  It’s brewed in both Brett barrels AND sour barrels so you absolutely get the flavor of each so intensely.

Brett is short for Brettanomyces.  (Not just some guy named Brett who built a barrel.)  If you’re a big old-world red wine fan, specifically wines from Bordeaux and the Rhone Valley in France, then your palate is most likely already familiar with the flavor that Brett brings.  Brettanomyces, simply put, is a yeast that sometimes grows on grapes.  Most winemakers go to great lengths to avoid this, as too much of it can ruin a wine, but with the right amount of finesse, tiny amounts of this yeast can impart great complexity to a wine.

And there are three compounds responsible for the aroma and flavor you get from a wine (or beer) that uses Brett in the brewing process:

The first compound is 4-ethylphenol, which imparts the smell of…(wait for it…) band-aids, horse stables and barnyard.  This happens to be something that I really enjoy on the nose of a red wine…in small amounts, of course.  It’s not for everyone, but perhaps the fact that I happily spent much of my childhood in a horse stable and in barnyards helps matters a bit… 

The second compound is 4-ethylguaiacol, which smells of bacon and ‘Christmas’ spices.  Ahh… another personal favorite flavor profile of mine.  But I suppose bacon and Christmas is an easy sell for most people, huh?

And then there’s Isovaleric acid, which frankly smells of rancid meat and moldy cheese…(sounds delightful, huh?), but if detected in trace amounts on the nose of an otherwise well-balanced red wine, it can be quite lovely, believe it or not!

So what some beer producers, specifically those who brew Belgian-style ales, have done is take those wine barrels that have been ‘infected’ with Brett, (or sometimes they just inject the stuff right into the fermenter), and age their beers in it so they can play around with those flavor profiles.  And Wicked Weed has done it right, my friends!  You get the perfect amount of Brett on the nose of Amorous, lots of delicious barnyard and cheese rind, and then what you get on the palate is equal parts sour and tropical hoppy-ness, because they dry hop it with a variety of American hops. It’s just magnificent.

Last week I went to our local carrier of Wicked Weed beers, The Davidson Beverage Company, after our good friend (who was out of town at the time) texted my husband to inform us it was in stock, and I pretty much cleared their shelves…then (of course) took a picture of it to send to our out-of-town friend as a tease…

(DBC sells it for $14/bottle.)

The next day my husband and I both tried it at the same time, in separate rooms of the house, and found ourselves texting each other thing like,

‘This beer!’ 

… ‘I know, right?!’ 

… ‘Woah!’
It’s just so damn cool, this beer.  It gets you thinking, it isn’t easy, it isn’t simple, it is interesting and fun and exciting.  It makes your palate wake up and stand up straighter.  And doesn’t that sound delightful?  Why drink or eat something that doesn’t have much to say?  Imagine yourself at a party…would you rather talk to the dull one in the corner with nothing to say, who’s been ready to leave for the past hour, or would you rather strike up a conversation with that hot piece of somethin’, full of rhetoric, tearing it up on the dance floor?Right.

Let’s open up our minds, and our palates, to new and more exciting things…you never know what you’ll enjoy!

…like the smell of horses in your beer glass…?
And since you all know I’m a giver, I hand-delivered a bottle of this special juice to our good friend…because something this good deserves to be shared with loved ones.  Which is why I decided to write about it today.But this will have to count as me sharing it with all of you…because I simply don’t have any more that I wish to actually share with all of you.


I do hope you understand.
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