Brau Brothers Brewing Company - Village Tart
- ABV: 8.5%
- Bottle Size: 750-ml
- Serving Temperature: 48–55° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Snifter, or Pinot Glass
Brau Brother’s Village Tart seemed like the ideal counterpoint for our other featured pick in the Rare Beer Club this month. Where Alesong’s Raspberry Gose is an especially plush and fruit-forward rendition in sour space, Village Tart presents compelling visions of the more savory side of things. The used oak barrels referenced on the label are whiskey barrels—and that spirit character is integrated into this beer in a way we found surprising and a revelation. The base beer is a potent Belgian-style blonde ale, and the complex fermentation qualities of this beer alongside the careful barrel influence did wonders. This is incredibly complex, both savory and spicy in turn, and the seemingly sour-mash-whiskey presence kept us intrigued. A really cool beer to pick apart, and it’s potent enough for a fair bit of additional cellaring time.
This is a very limited release from Brau Brothers Brewing Co. relative to their core offerings, and, given its minimal distribution, our Rare Beer Club members will be among the few who will be able to get their hands on bottles. It took a lot of time and effort to make this release, and it certainly stood out among other delicious core offerings from this Minnesota brewery.
This pours a nicely bronzed, bright golden color that immediately conjures lambic for us. It almost comes across like honey in hue, though there’s just a hint of viscosity. A modest off-white head caps things, leaving behind a perimeter of lingering foam. There’s some serious color complexity to this blonde ale, and the substantial amount of time and barrel aging that went into this final product shows through at every stage of digging into this one. From even the initial pour, layers of generous barrel character and whiskey notes and tartness roll out.
The nose is unlike any other beer we can recall. There’s soft vanilla and almond character via the oak barrel, along with some potent whiskey-like contributions, and the deliberate combo of spirits and tart citrus had us thinking of a more interesting version of a whiskey sour. But it’s its own thing entirely: savory and tart, with underlying notes of char and oak, and while a brilliantly tuned whiskey presence seems to steal the show at first, this opens up into more of a complex sour ale, particularly as it’s allowed to warm. Lemon, pear, grapefruit aromatics...
That first sip reminded us that this is a sour ale first and foremost, despite the potency of those whiskey notes in the initial aromatics. The barrel does great work here, bringing in elements of well-toasted barrel, almond, and the complex sour-mash-y spirit that preceded the beer. A range of tart citruses and robust fermentation qualities appear as well—from white pepper to fresh lemon and grapefruit to even hints of a smokiness that works beautifully to bring those disparate elements together into a delicious focus. This is an out-there, adventurous beer that we found exceptionally unique and tasty. Let it warm up. Dig into that core barrel character.
The 8.5% ABV and acidity will give this one a bit of lasting time in the cellar, though keep an eye on oxidation by popping a bottle every six months or so. It’s already seen plenty of aging time, and we found it expressive and well-balanced freshly bottled. Pairings have us considering grilled ribeye, with that whiskey + char + citrus focus. Look to heftier fare.
Straight out of college in 1999, Dustin Brau and his wife, Mary, bought a restaurant in the small town of Lucan, MN (approx. 200 residents), which they named BrauHaus. In order to attract more of the local population to come enjoy a meal in town, the duo decided to begin offering their very own BrauHaus beers made on-premises, thus turning their homebrewing hobby into a legitimate microbrewery. Their tiny 2-barrel system was barely enough to keep up with the demand of their restaurant, so in 2006 they moved their beer production to a larger building in Lucan. It was at this time that Dustin’s brothers, Trevor and Brady, joined the enterprise, and their father, Dale, joined in to help too. With space to brew more beer, the team could now take the business to the next level. Brau Brothers Brewing Company was officially founded. A bottling line was installed and their beer began flowing out of the town of Lucan to retail accounts throughout the area. Additionally, they began farming their own hops and barley on a few acres of nearby land.
In 2013, an even bigger step was taken when Brau Brothers moved to an even larger facility in the city of Marshall, several miles to the west. BrauHaus was closed in order to focus entirely on the brewing company, which now enjoys 37,000 square feet of space, 3,500 of which is devoted to barrel-aging, allowing Brau Brothers to produce a wider variety of beers, including sours, not to mention their own line of sodas. The brewery collaborates with a variety of smaller producers, from distilleries to coffee roasters, and the brewery's Tap Room offers over two dozen taps and, in addition to providing tasty pub fare including burgers, pizza, and sandwiches, also offers growler fills so visitors can take plenty of beer home with them. For more info, contact them at 507-929-BEER, or visit www.braubeer.com.
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