Reader question: Brett beers to try

Reader Carl wrote:

I was recently at Surly’s taproom and tried both You’re in (Urine) Trouble and Misanthrope and was surprised by how much I liked them. I have not had any Brett beers before and now want to expand my tastes; do you have any suggestions for what I should try that are available in our (MN) market?

Help me out, citizens: what should Carl drink? I’ll go first:

MN-specific, two other beers I’ve had in the past year from local brewers that stand out in my mind were Surly Brett Liquor IPA and Pour Decisions St. Whatshername Tripel. They’re both limited-release, so keep your eyes peeled.

And you can’t go wrong with the classics: Cantillon, Boon, Hanssens, Rodenbach, Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins, Orval, Liefmans …

16 thoughts on “Reader question: Brett beers to try

  1. Not a native MN citizen, but I’ll give it a go.
    Start out with subtle brett beers like Liefmann Kriek and Goudenband and work your way up to the flanders reds like Rodenbach.
    Then on to the Geuzes like Girardin White and Black label, Drie (3) Fonteinen and and Cantillon.
    If you are still feeling brave, try the real unblended lambics for the full out funk!

    Good luck, when your mind has adjusted to the funky stuff, there is NO turning back.
    No other style will offer the same level of complexity.

  2. Depends. If he likes “light funk,” which is often what you get with Brett and I’m guessing what those Surly ones have, then he might want to stay away from (for now) those much stronger ones you mentioned, the full on lambic/gueze types (Cantillon, Hanssens, etc). Orval would be a decent place to start though. There have got to be many other entry level domestic Brett beers, though, too. I had some Green Flash Brett Saison type beer recently. I can’t think of many others off the top of my head, but I know they are out there.

    • You’re totally right, Don O – full-on lambics have a lot going on. Although Jamil Z talks about introducing non-craft beer drinkers with Arrogant Bastard instead of a gradual weaning with blonde ales – I think there’s something to jumping off the dock and swimming. For lambic at least, it seems like folks either love them or hate them, and there’s not much middle ground no matter how you’re introduced.

      • I was just trying to address the specific question at hand. I thought he wanted other “Brett beers” and that sort of suggests a certain beer type to me. But yeah, otherwise you could either dive into sours, or slowly wade. I must say, my first tastes were of the full on sour lambics and I did not like them. It took more time and tastings, now I love them. Others I know have gone on a more gradual path until they are full acclimated to the beauty.

  3. There are some great examples of saisons with some brett character that don’t have as strong of a funky character as some lambics or other belgian style sour beers. The Bruery has some great examples (Saison de Lente, Saison Rue). But also, Boulevard Saison Brett, and any of the Fantome saisons have some subtle brett character. Also Crooked Stave some great 100% Brett beers but I’m not sure if they distribute in MN…I’m lucky that they distribute some kegs and bottles to NYC. Finally, not similar to any others but I know that the Bruery claims their Hottenroth berliner weisse is mostly lacto but also has some brett.

  4. I don’t know the MN market at all, but I can def suggest some brett beers. Sam (above) nailed some solid selections. Logsdon Seizoen Bretta is very good. Sierra Nevada/Russian River collabo BRUX might still be on shelves. The Green Flash beer Rayon Vert might be the one Don O was talking about. Some of the Belgian Goose Island stuff tastes like it has Brett. Sofie/Sofie Paradisi come to mind. Keep on searchin’!

  5. Wow thanks Citizens – I’ll have to start trying them this weekend; I think while watching the Vikes will be a perfect time.

    When I first started drinking IPAs I dove in head first with Hop Slam, Furious and Abrasive and never looked back; so maybe I’ll try that approach again.

    Thanks again,

  6. I’m a big fan of Petrus Oud bruin… not as sour as most. Doesn’t get a lot of love but its a favorite and a good get your feet wet sour beer in my opinion. Thier aged pale has more of a tartness, but not the complexity of the brown.

    Goudendband is a good one too! When its all said and done…you just have to sip your way through them…good luck

  7. My two suggestions:

    Russian River’s Sanctification – 100% Brett
    Lost Abby’s Saint’s Devotion – blend of three yeasts

    Both are amazing beers, but not sure if they distor in MN.

  8. Try Jolly Pumpkin Bam Biere or maybe Oro de Calabaza. Bam is light, hoppy and pleasently funky. Oro is a little more sour but not by too much. Jolly Pumpkin also has some of the most complex beers out there.

  9. I’m not a huge fan of sour beers but I have to second the motion to try the Sierra Nevada and Russian River collaboration beer BRUX as an entry level brettanomyces beer.

    To see Micheal Jackson discuss Rodenbach Grand Cru you’ll be, as I was, compelled to try it. I didn’t love it as much as Micheal did, but I just had Dogfish Head 61 the other day and thought it was reminiscent of Rodenbach, but closer to my nice safe home of saccharomyces beers.

  10. There are a lot of (great)sours listed here other than Brett beers like he tried and liked. I agree go for them and try them out, but brett beers (100%) will be way different than the sours listed.
    Sierra Nevada/RR Brett Brux is still floating around in some stores
    You may find an Anchroage Brewing floating around to, all with Brett
    A couple Goose Island ones forget the names.
    Pour Decisions has St Whathername and them a bunch of Berliners with brett among some others.

    Go hit up Blue Max(best store in MN IMO) and talk to some of the guys, they should be able to give you a decent amount to take home

  11. If you’re ever out east might I suggest something from Cisco. They have “the woods” series, of which “lady of the woods” was my first sour. Also, if you can find it, their island reserve series “saison farm house ale” is most excellent as well.

  12. I got into sours after I watched Brewing TV’s episode 49 “Sour Beers”. I love Rodenbach and it is a good place to start. Surly’s Pentagram is good also. Once you get the taste down try a Cuvee Rene. Cheers and enjoy the ride!

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