A couple of weeks ago I wrote about collaborative beers on my Hoppress blog over at Ratebeer. While somewhat suspicious and critical of this trend in brewing, I remain intrigued by these beers. What happens when great brewing minds get together? What magic might occur? One of the most interesting series of collaborations for me has been the Brewmaster’s Collaboration beers from De Proef Brouwerij in Belgium. Dirk Naudts started De Proef in 1996. His small-scale, high-tech operation has been churning out a whole line of great beers that are the product of the marriage of cutting-edge brewing technology and traditional brewing methods. Since 2007 he has been collaborating with leading American brewers to create the unique beers of the Brewmaster’s Collaboration series. I have previously written about Van Twee, the collaboration with Bell’s Brewing, and Les Deux Brasseurs, the collaboration with Jason Perkins of Allagash. Until recently I had not had the opportunity to taste Signature Ale, the first in the series brewed in 2007 with Lost Abbey’s Tomme Arthur. It has recently been re-released. Last week I walked into a Kansas City liquor store and there it was. So here’s my notes:
De Proef Brouwerij, Lochristi, Belgium with Tomme Arthur of Pizza Port/Lost Abbey
Style: Something like an American IPA with Brettanomyces
Serving Style: 750 ML Bottle
Aroma: Floral notes dominate. Huge fruity brettanomyces character. Very little horsey funk at the beginning, but it becomes stronger as it warms. Light grainy malt sweetness fills in the background. Highly spicy like Indian food, floral coriander and cardamom. Hints of citrus. Very intriguing.
Appearance: Rich and creamy off-white head that lasts forever. Light copper with slightly pink highlights. Light haze.
Flavor: Most unique. East Asian coriander floweriness with deep pitchy resinous notes. A bitter bite at the end that sticks. Huge fruitiness – peach, pineapple, berries, tangerine candy. The full-flavored supporting grainy malt sweetness backs up the bitterness and gives the whole mélange of flavors a soft bed on which to rest. Light caramel touch. Like some kind of exotic Indian masala. Lingering sweetness in the finish that increases with warming.
Mouthfeel: Medium body with medium carbonation. Light bitter astringency. Somewhat creamy.
Overall Impression: Drink this with Indian food. An English IPA with American-like hops and funky wild goodness. All the contrasting flavors and styles balance out into a most interesting blend of flavors. Huge floral notes invite sip after sip.