Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kelso - Brett IPA Review

Kelso Brett IPA

Brewery: Kelso of Brooklyn (NY)
Style: 100% Brett / IPA
ABV: ??%
Grade: B+

I would love to know what Brett strain was used to ferment this, and what the fermentation process was like. I'm not even sure if this was a 100% Brett fermentation or a Brett-secondary fermentation. Here's what I can discern: Kelso's Brett IPA tastes like it's been oak-aged, and the aroma (plus appearance) is disconcertingly similar to a Flanders Red. There's a mild impression of sourness in the flavor, aided by the tart oaky character, which Brett really seems to enjoy working with. Still, I was assuming this was a 100% Brett fermented beer, which usually lack funk (to say nothing of sourness.) So however this was brewed, count me surprised that it's tart or funky or sour at all — especially as it's billed as an IPA.

The aroma, once you parce out the oak, has a nice rounded hop flavor, though it's mostly dominated by that sweet, fruity sort of funk that Brett gives off. The taste, however, is a dramatic range of flavors, from oak and dark dry fruit, vanilla, to Beglian-y barnyard funk, to spicy phenols. Once again, hop flavors are subtle, minimal, or obscured. I'd be hard pressed to give you any specific descriptions of the hops featured here, but presumably they blend in with, and compliment, the tart-fruit character of the beer. I'm convinced this must have aged in oak barrels for a while, as that would explain both the muted hop character and the borderline sourness.

Brett IPA grows less funky and more fruity as it warms, and the clean finish helps pull the sprawling range of flavors together. With a rich or lingering finish, this might grow tedious, but it's actually pretty drinkable for such an oddball. As just a random beer, I'm very glad I tried this. It's unique and interesting, but as an IPA, the hop flavors are too subtle throughout. The oak, too, really throws this off balance toward the farmhouse end. Kelso seemed to intend this more as a hoppy wild ale than as a 100% Brett IPA as many others are doing them.

Availability: Who knows? No, seriously, who knows, and can you direct me to them? This beer seems to pop up completely at random, and there's zero information about it online. I can't even find the ABV. I have no idea if Kelso brewed this once, and I stumbled upon an old keg of it, or if it's just a small-batch beer they brew every now and then.

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