Logsdon Farmhouse Ales - Seizoen Bretta
- ABV: 8%
- Serving Temperature: 45-50° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip or Oversized Wine Glass
In the beer world, is there anything more mouthwatering than that first hint of well-developed Brett: that initial smack of tart lemon, lime, cracker-y dryness, funk, etc.? Maybe it’s just us. But from the moment this beer pours to its nicely dry finish, Seizoen Bretta speaks of a precise appreciation of wild yeast and what they’re capable of. It’s exactly what you’d expect from someone who’s spent 25 years as a professional yeast wrangler.
Seizoen Bretta is a saison that underwent primary fermentation with four (4!) Saccharomyces yeasts, followed by a secondary fermentation with a single Brettanomyces strain. It’s got four types of malts, four types of hops (whole cones only, thank you very much), and each bottle gets a dose of organic pear juice, allowing the beer to referment and naturally carbonate.
Seizoen Bretta pours a bright, golden-orange color with a modest amount of haze. Its head forms like fine-bubbled mousse: filling the remainder of the glass, lacing its interior, gently capping the golden liquid underneath, and retaining its presence long after the first sip. Firm waves of Bretty citrus, tropical fruits (think: passion fruit, papaya), and a juicy kaffir lime-like note flow forth from the glass, pointing to an impressive show of complexity from a single Brettanomyces yeast strain. The toasty saison underpinning shows white pepper, dough, and a touch of honeyed sweetness. The core structure here is apparent even before the first sip.
It’s hard not to dive right in. That jolt of citrusy tartness greets the tip of the tongue, followed by those top notes from the Brettanomyces: passion fruit, lime leaf, pink grapefruit. But the saison takes the reins shortly after, offering round, toasty notes of peppery spice, rustic bread, crystalline sugar, and a soft, Pilsner-like malt character. This is an intricately built beer, taking their brilliant standard saison and adding that vibrant, transformative effort of Brettanomyces. While this may not exhibit the jaw-clenching tartness that some have incorrectly grown to expect from just about anything with a strain of Brettanomyces in it (there are various different strains, from subtle up to Brettanomyces Lambicus, and there’s more to these wild yeasts than an ability to toss out sourness), this offers a fully formed Brett profile that shows just how nuanced and delicious these yeasts can be on their own terms.
As we sipped Seizoen Bretta, we found ourselves thinking, “So THIS is what organic beer can taste like.” This beer makes an argument for a lot of things, from using top-tier ingredients, to choosing organic ones, to simply listening to one’s yeast a bit more carefully. Unlike most commercially offered Brettanomyces-influenced beers, which typically use a standard Brett strain from one of the main yeast labs, the exact strain in Seizoen Bretta was independently isolated and cultured by Logsdon. So you’re not likely to find this particular Brett profile from anyone else. Drink up and savor it.
(Oh. Also. We’re hardly alone in loving this beer. Seizoen Bretta received a gold medal in the American-Style Brett Ale category at the Great American Beer Festival just this past year.)
We here at The Rare Beer Club are pleased to offer our members the opportunity to sample this offering from Logsdon. Only about 300 cases were produced in all of 2012, and in fact the brewery produces only about 5,000 total cases of beer annually, with most of their distribution of this miniscule amount concentrated in their home state of Oregon. We’re teaching Oregon how to share. This bottle-conditioned beer will continue changing and developing as the Brett works its magic long-term, and we expect it to hold up well through extended cellaring periods. (Remember to pick up extra bottles if you plan to cellar some.) The acidity and complexity of this beer afford it excellent options for food pairings. While we’ve seen it paired with an intricate dish involving Oregon black cod, wild leeks, mussels, and risotto, it should work just as well beside creamy, lighter-intensity goat cheeses like Humboldt Fog.
Imagine, if you will, a mythic brewery tucked away in the folds of Oregon’s Columbia River. The brewing equipment itself sits in an iconic big red barn, itself housed on the brewmaster’s quiet ten-acre property. Schaerbeekse cherry trees, imported from a small Belgian orchard in East Flanders, dot the property and conjure up the world-class kriek lambics of that region. A small fold of Scottish Highland cattle can be seen salivating, a good sign there’s brewing in progress. Once it’s done, the spent grains will be brought out into the pasture to feed them. At the operation’s helm, let’s say, is an artisan long-trained in the semi-invisible arts of yeast management. It all feels like a bit of sorcery. For good measure, the brewery also happens to be immersed in an area known for its windsurfing, orchards, historic landmarks, and beer.
Go ahead. Pinch yourself. Rub your eyes. Logsdon’s Farmhouse Ales will still be there.
There’s something special about breweries truly dedicated to the quality and sustainability of what they do, to the degree that it can feel a bit like an errant fairy tale (swap out the Hobbits for gigantic cattle, in this case). Logsdon Farmhouse Ales opened for business two years ago, headed up by Director and Brewmaster David Logsdon. David’s been a force in the brewing industry for quite some time, previously serving as a founding partner and brewer at fellow Hood-River-based brewery Full Sail. He’s also the founder of Wyeast Laboratories, Inc., one of the country’s main brewing yeast companies, where he worked for 25 years before setting out to start a brewery of his own. Logsdon Farmhouse Ales is operated as a cooperative, and also includes Charles Porter, who’s brewed previously for folks like Full Sail and Deschutes, along with four additional members who share in the various aspects of brewery operations.
To the idyllic setting and skilled brewing team, add a dedication to high-quality, thoughtfully sourced organic ingredients. Hops are used in their whole-cone form (no pellets, no extract) and purchased either directly from the farmers themselves or grown on site. Fruit additions are locally sourced. Multiple yeast strains are typically used (including five in Seizoen Bretta), allowing for greater complexity in the final product. Also: Every beer is certified organic. In David’s words: “We think these are all advantages and producing the best beer possible.”
We’re very excited to offer Logsdon’s award-winning Seizoen Bretta to our members as one of this month’s selections. It’s quickly become the brewery’s most popular offering to date.
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