One of the developments that is associated with the increasing popularity of using wild yeast in craft brewing is that almost any kind of beer style has been combined with “brett.” There are now even new breweries whose sole aim is to brew traditional beer styles augmented by wild yeast. Many craft brewing experiments with brettanomyces involve generous malt bills and relatively high alcohol content. Stillwater Artisanal’s Premium, a “post-prohibition style ale,” departs from this trend. If you like a beer such as Fort George’s 1811 lager but are also interested in wild ales or beers like Orval, Premium should be an interesting brew.
Premium was brewed with Pilsner malt, corn, rice, spicy hops like Cluster, Northern Brewer, and Saaz, and fermented with a farmhouse ale yeast and 2 strains of brettanomyces. Such a recipe should produce a light and dry beer and it did. Premium pours an opaque dark yellow color with a big fluffy, white, head. The aroma is light, malty, and crisp with notes of lemon and brettanomyces. The taste is bone dry with bitter, herbal hops. The fermentation products of the brettanomyces yeast are well integrated and this light-bodied beer ends on a long, bitter, finish. Quite remarkably, this brew is still quite tasty when it warms up, too.
I was very pleased with this strange, “modern archaic” beer. It was light, low in alcohol (4.5%), and devoid of the obligatory citrus bomb hops. It is not tremendously complex but in this case that is a feature not a bug.
There are now a number of craft breweries aiming to create a year-round brett beer, and if the brewer proceeds with his plan to release this in cans, this is a strong addition.