In my experience, there seems to be a direct connection for (some) beer drinkers that if “wild yeast” is printed on a label it means sour. Not necessarily so.
This is especially the case with Sierra Nevada/Russian River collaboration Brux, which is fermented with brettanomyces bruxellensis, a Belgian yeast strain that’s commonly found in beer styles like lambics and krieks. While there’s no fruit in Brux, the yeast definitely provides similar characteristics. I’ll give way to a great blog post at IThinkAboutBeer that furthers my point, but I highly recommend heading over to get a full idea of what wild yeast is and what it means when it goes in your beer:
In reality, Brett doesn’t provide huge amounts of sourness. Other agents, which I’ll discuss shortly, provide that function. In most cases, Brett is used in bottle conditioning where it only provides an additional small level of tartness (due to the much lower oxygen levels involved). What it really exceeds at is adding some funky and delicious flavors, which include: barnyard, horse blanket, floral, earthy, tropical fruit and more.
Despite “wild” yeast used in Brux, this is no Brett Beer. Brux has an 87 on Beer Advocate.
I will say this – I was impressed from the start. While the beer created little head that barely stuck around for me to stick my nose in the glass, the color was kind of stunning. While the shade of the beer was a yellow-brown-amber, it was absolutely clear as day after it sat for a few minutes. It was just a tad shady right after my pour, but it quickly looked like a darker-hued version of a lager or pilsner.
The smell was equally curious, offering first notes of banana, orange and even ginger. The most prominent was the unmistakable Brett smell which offers a touch of sour funk, but in this beer it came across as sweet instead of a wet blanket … almost sugary. Whiffs of a non-specific floral aroma linger in my nose after a deep inhale.
When took my first sip, the carbonation of the beer left a tingle on my tongue, giving way to a very crisp and immediately yeasty/bready beer. This beer is VERY carbonated, although I suppose this would be typical of a Belgian style. Again, I can sense the Brett, but it’s not sour to me. Instead, it comes across sweet and tart. As pointed out in the IThinkAboutBeer post, this makes sense.
I would’ve loved to have another bottle of this to store and have after a year or two, but the price certainly discourages that. Also, my local shop was limiting purchases to one bottle per person. Womp womp.
Hit the jump for my “Rate That Beer” sheet.