Wild ales cover a wide gamut of flavor and aroma profiles. For Brett beers (beers brewed with Brettanomyces yeast strains), the tastes and aromas produced are especially vivid and complex. Currently, Alesong Brewing and Blending of Eugene, Oregon is one of the top breweries producing 100-percent Brett-fermented beers on a national level.
The brewery’s Touch of Brett series, in particular, has received many accolades in recent years, including three medals at the Great American Beer Festival. Touch of Brett Madarina—the 2018 iteration of this award-winning French-style, oak barrel-aged saison—received a bronze medal in the Brett Beer category earlier this fall. Dry-hopped with Mandarina Bavaria hops, it’s a funky wild ale bursting with tropical fruit and spice aromas.
Alesong packages its beer in beautiful Belgian-style 500-milliliter bottles complete with a traditional cork and cage. On the back label, a detailed description and list of beer specifics including bottling date, cases produced, microbes used, barrel type, and carbonation method let you know that this brewery cares about the details—a touch that a beer geek like me deeply appreciates. Coming out of the bottle, Touch of Brett Mandarina pours a brilliantly clear, yet soft gold color. Its flaxen hue is accompanied by an effervescent off-white head, which slowly dissipates over time.
The signature “funk” of Brett, often described as “barnyard” or “horse blanket,” is strongly apparent in the first whiff of this rustic ale. Its funky bouquet is complemented by aromas of tropical fruit and spice, thanks to liberal dry-hopping with Mandarina Bavaria. Most notably, copious hints of pineapple and freshly ground coriander come through.
In every aspect—appearance, aroma, flavor—it’s a palate-pleaser.”
A tropical fruit cascade hits the tongue on the first sip. Pineapple, mango, and grapefruit are supplemented with a subtle herbal, rose-like flavor and woody, oaky notes reminiscent of this beer’s time spent in French oak barrels. Lighter in body than I expected for 8.5% ABV, this beer finishes exceptionally dry and clean. A light bready malt tang lingers in the aftertaste.
It doesn’t take three consecutive GABF medals to quickly figure out Alesong’s Touch of Brett Mandarina is an excellent beer. Crisp, refreshing, and full-flavored with a bone-dry finish, it’s by far one of the best 100-percent Brett-fermented beers I’ve had the pleasure of drinking. In every aspect—appearance, aroma, flavor—it’s a palate-pleaser and has me already looking forward to the next Touch of Brett iteration.