There is always luck involved in brewing, especially when one’s doing a spontaneous fermentation. So let’s see how lucky I got with this one. As I mentioned in the original post this was a semi-spontaneous gruit. WYeast blends were added long after fermentation was over and the main fermentors were dry bread yeast and everything else that lived on the grains used. For a long time this brew was horrible and stinky, but as the time passed it changed and evolved into something unexpected and even beautiful in a way.
By now it’s almost 1.5 year old and spent 5 months in the bottle. Since this beer is highly carbonated I decided to go on an adventure and taste it twice. That is taste it immediately and write down my notes, and then let it sit for a bit to calm down and warm up a little and taste it again. Another thing is that there seems to be a lot of bacteria in the sediment because of how wispy it is. The lightest movement causes it to puff up into suspension.
Appearance: Yellow gold. Brilliant clear, but once even the tiniest bit of sediment gets in it becomes cloudy (such is the nature of bacterial sediments). Big fluffy head recedes immediately into nothingness. Constant stream of bubbles coming from the bottom. Champagne-like, sparkling. As bubbles burst when they come to the liquid interface, drops of beer shoot out into the air and hit your nose and face. Looks like a very “happy” beer.
After letting it sit for around 10 minutes there is still a constant stream of bubbles coming up from the bottom.
Smell: Sparkly bubbles attack your face with their bursts so it takes a little bit to get used to it and start smelling. Juniper greens, juniper wood and big earthy funk hit your nose at first. Grassy, hay-like, dried peas aromas detectable. Old vegetation.
After letting it sit for around 10 minutes a sweetness appears. Malty, sugary, musty-wine-like. Swirling the glass results in return of the juniper/funk that completely masks the gentle sweet notes.
Taste: Earthy funk up front, followed by more juniper. This gets washed away quickly by the high carbonation that just explodes on your tongue. After that passes, soft sourness appears and blooms, covering your whole mouth. Commandaria-like wine sweetness and mustiness appear after you get accustomed to the sourness. Light astringency numbs the tongue while the interplay of sour and sweet goes on for a while in the back. Some heat in your stomach after a couple minutes.
After letting it sit for around 10 minutes carbonation recedes and the flavor changes. There is still funky juniper in the beginning, but it gets overtaken by a tsunami of sweetness and sourness almost immediately. Same kind of musty wine sweetness, but the sourness is weaker than before so the sweetness eventually wins. Really weird in a good way. It’s like a mix of sour and sweet grapes in your mouth. Long finish.
Mouthfeel: High carbonation. Very light feel even after you allow carbonation to get down. Very very light with a lot of interesting flavors.
Overall: This is an interesting brew. Not something I’d drink every day – more like once in a while, so this one is probably going to last me years. It was very enjoyable to explore it in two attempts. There is definitely something witchy and dark about it. I got a picture of late autumn with bare trees, dead plants, cold, damp, chilling wind, light drizzling rain and mist in my mind while drinking it. It’s interesting that there is no smoke detectible whatsoever in this brew. One would think with all that smoked malt you’d get some, but alas there is none.