Boulevard Brewing Company’s Saison-Brett is one of the brewery’s limited releases in the Smokestack Series. The Smokestack beers are caged and corked 750 mL bottles of special beers that generally run around $8 each. The limited release beers are small runs of variations on the regulars in the series, like the Bourbon Barrel Quad.
Saison-Brett begins with the regular Saison recipe that is part of the Smokestack Series, and then Boulevard adds brettanomyces, a strain of yeast that is used in Belgium’s famous “wild beers” that are often made in the open, allowing whatever yeast that lands in the wort to give them a unique character. In winemaking, “brett” is often looked at as an undesireable yeast, but for many Belgian beer styles the “brett infection” is exactly what the doctor ordered!
Brett beers typically have a sour character and notes of vinegar on the aroma. Beers like Rodenbach Grand Cru, Duchesse de Bourgogne, and the Flanders red ale style all take on varying degrees of sourness from the yeast. My bottle of Saison-Brett, however, had little, if any sourness. I love sour beers, so I was disappointed in that.
The beer pours with an enormous head and the color is slightly yellow orange with tons of yeast floating around inside. The aroma is very typical “Belgian” for lack of a better descriptor. Again, my nose isn’t the best, but it’s unmistakably Belgian in character. There is a very small sourness in the flavor, but I actually found the Saison-Brett to be rather hop forward, with notes of grapefruit early in the flavor. I tasted a fair amount of alcohol, too, which I didn’t want from this beer.
All in all I like the Saison-Brett for its complexity, but I was hoping for a sour beer and I think that clouded my expectations. I’ll have to drink the regular Saison again soon and compare the beers. The Saison-Brett bottle says that the beer can be cellared for more “brett” character, so this would be interesting to buy a case of and try every six months or so.