My first beer stop after recovering from my trip to New Zealand was to head up to Russian River Brewing. It was not because I was craving hops after two weeks mostly without them — although I was — but for another reason related instead to Brettanomyces. One of the most interesting beers I sampled in New Zealand, at Hallertau Brewbar near Auckland, was called Porter Noir, an English-style porter aged in local pinot noir barrels for four months which then spent six more months bottle conditioning with additional Brettanomyces. I brought back two bottles with me, but unfortunately one of them was damaged during the flight. It didn’t break but developed a small leak. Some of the beer seeped out but happily stayed inside the Ziplock bag I had packed it in. So I knew I had to drink it pretty quickly before it went flat.
So I stopped by Russian River’s new production brewery to open it for Vinnie Cilurzo, figuring he’d appreciate trying another Brett beer. The place looked quite a bit different then when I was there less than three weeks before. For one thing, all the construction equipment and spare parts were gone, making it look much larger inside and out. Vinnie also showed me the sixty barrels of the Consecration — the first beer brewed at the new brewery — aging in the barrel room. Most already have the Zante Currants added, but a few are still waiting for them. The beer will age for at least nine months before being released.
The first batch of Pliny the Elder in the fermenter, waiting to be bottled in early July.
So we opened the Hallertau Porter Noir. Although it had lost a few inches of beer from the neck, it was still quite well-carbonated. All of the bottles at this point are from Batch 001, but this one was from Barrel #99081 and was bottled on November 10, 2007. It was 6.6% abv. Dark in color and a very thick tan head. The nose was marked by characteristic barnyard aromas with just a touch of malty sweetness. The nose was slightly less pungent than the sample I had in New Zealand, but Vinnie and I both declared it to be quite tasty. The Brett character married quite nicely with the nutty, malty porter flavors.
At the original tasting of this beer at Hallertau Brewbar last week in New Zealand. On the left is my host, Luke Nicholas — who owns Epic Beer and is also VP of the recently formed New Zealand Brewers Guild — and, on the right, Stephen Plowman, owner/brewer of Hallertau Brewbar & Restaurant.