Sierra Nevada and Russian River are craft beer royalty. Sierra may be the most under-appreciated brewery in the country. In addition to widely-distributing a pale ale that has changed palates, offerings like Torpedo and Celebration Ale are world-class beers at a reasonable price. Russian River is a different kind of royalty, a white whale for East Coast beer drinkers seeking a taste of Pliny the Elder, Blind Pig, and other highly-rated, rare beers. The two brewers recently came together on a collaboration beer called Brux.
Funky beers are most definitely this year's trend. To be honest, I'm kind of funked out. But it's hard to pass on a collaboration from Sierra Nevada and Russian River. Plus the "woe is me" thing is kind of pathetic. I drink beer for a job, for crying out loud.
The brewers describe Brux as a "domesticated wild ale"; the domesticated part is an ale fermented with Belgian yeast. It's wild because it's finished by a secondary bottle fermentation with Brettanomyces bruxellensis, this year's en vogue spoiler. We know how it's made, but we have no idea what kind of beer this is going to be.
I popped the cork on a 750 ml bottle and tried to get to know the beer. It pours a golden orange with a big, white head. There are whiffs of lemony citrus, and also some earthy, musty notes. It's barnyard-meets-margarita.
The taste is complex. This is not a sour beer, but it's definitely a funky beer. You can taste the horse-blanket notes from the Brett, but there's also banana and cloves in there from the Belgian yeast. You get them at different times. The mouthfeel is dry. A fun part of this beer: tiny little champagne-like bubbles rapidly rise to the top between sips. It looks cool against the orange murk.
This is awesome. I'm reminded of a saison, but it's not one. It's an American wild ale (8.3 percent alcohol), but there's no cloying sweetness from the high ABV. Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont recently received another shipment of this beer, and I suggest you try it. It retails for around $16.