Evan Benn writes today about the rush to buy bottles of Goose Island Sofie the brewery recalled because “… Goose Island Sofie uses natural products and the hallmark of Belgian-style beers — wild fermentation. This particular natural variation was new and resulted in flavors that weren’t what we expected so we implemented a method for controlling for that variation.”
When he visited the Wine and Cheese Place in Clayton (a store I can now walk to) he was a little surprised that he wasn’t the only one looking for bottles from the tainted batch.
He turned out not to be impressed, writing: “Real Sofie tastes slightly fruity, slightly spicy, with a zesty carbonation that results in a champagnelike finish. The Feb. 11 sample had muddled aromas and flavors, including some rancid butter and vaguely sour elements, and dull carbonation. I couldn’t choke down all of the contents of the 22-ounce bottle, leaving about half of it for a beer-loving friend to try.”
But I’m sure there are drinkers who just love the alternative version.
And a few weeks ago Daria (my wife, for those of you new here) poured beer for Boulevard Brewing when she volunteered at the St. Louis MicroFest. They weren’t serving the recently released the Smokestack Imperial Stout, but festivalgoers wanted to know where you could buy Batch #2. Boulevard is offering a refund for those who purchased that batch, because . . .
Prior to the March release our tasting panel sampled several bottles of the new barrel aged beer. Some turned out as expected, while others displayed the unique characteristics of wild Brettanomyces yeast. We immediately posted tasting notes to our blog, announcing the deviation and noting the differences in flavor profiles. Because our tasting panel very much enjoyed both versions, we decided to proceed with the release as usual.
It is Batch #2 of the 2011 Imperial Stout that exhibits the Brettanomyces trait. In retrospect, we should have called attention to this Brett character on the label. Because we didn’t, and because some consumers got a beer that was different from the one they had a legitimate right to expect, we’re offering a refund to anybody who feels shortchanged, and who can reasonably demonstrate that they did in fact buy a bottle of Batch #2 of our 2011 Imperial Stout.
I had Batch #1 and it was delightful, rich and decadent. But what set it apart was its texture; a combination of mouthfeel and layers of flavor not unlike the Firestone Walker anniversary beers. Brettanomyces will literally chew away at that texture.
I like many of my favorite styles, including saisons and IPAs, drier than most (perhaps why once when I was judging saisons in a competition a friend said, “You’re Mr. Attenuation”). And I’m curious about a lot of things. But were I to find Smokestack Imperial Stout in a store I’d buy Batch #1 rather than #2. Sometimes you just want a sure thing.