It was only a matter of time before a brewery as adept at brewing Belgian-style beers as Pfriem Family Brewers would trot out a Brett finished Belgian-style pale ale. But really, like anyone brewing a Belgian-style Pale Ale finished with Brettanomyces, this beer is an homage to the great Orval Trappist Ale. Orval is a unique beer in the world and one to which a style was created to provide a category for it to reside in. It also let’s brewers create their beery love letters to one of the most famous beers of the Trappist world.
If you’re not familiar with Orval, and many aren’t in the overly local focused craft beer scene, it’s a beer of approximately 6.9% ABV; golden amber in color, highly hopped; and most importantly, finished with the Brettanomyces yeast strain. Orval is famous for its ability to evolve and age. The Brettanomyces will continue to eat the complex sugars left in the dry beer and release a whole host of funky flavors that make this strain of yeast so famous.
I was excited to see that Pfriem would be releasing a bottle conditioned Belgian Pale Ale. Pfriem’s bottle-conditioned Belgian-style beers have been spot on. The heavy glass and the cork and cage allow for the needed high CO2 levels make real Belgian beers stand out from most poorly executed American imitations. Properly mashed and fermented in the tanks and then properly conditioned in the bottle, Pfriem’s beers stand with the best of Belgium.
All things considered, I thought this beer would be a perfect addition to my cellaring project. The combination of bottle conditioning and Brett yeast mean this beer should have several years of development in the bottle. Pfriem Brett Brux Pale Ale is finished using the Brettanomyces Bruxellensis strain of Brett.
The first bottle was reviewed on December 14, 2015. I will review the next bottle in 6 months.
Appearance: Hazy gold/orange, off-white head, solid retention.
Aroma: Pineapple, pepper, spice, fruity notes, peaches, caramel, almonds, Brett “sweat.”
Taste: Apricots, pineapple, spicy, earthy, caramel tones.
Overall Impression: Success. Pfriem’s Brett Brux Pale matches the nice hop bite of a fresh Orval. And like all worthy homages, this beer isn’t just a clone of the original but it’s own unique creation in the vein of the original.
Availability: Currently available on store shelves in the Pacific Northwest, but in limited quantities.
Disclosure: I work for the company that distributes Pfriem in Oregon, although I don’t manage or work with their portfolio directly. Josh Pfriem donated this case to the project.