I've recently been diving into the catacombs of the past (aka my parent's basement) to grab some beers that I brewed years ago to see how they're tasting now. In many of these cases the beers are oxidized - in some cases they may have been that way when fresh. In other cases, primarily with boozier or sour/brett'd beers they have aged gracefully, in some cases even gaining character. Today I decided to pop bottles of batch 21 and 21b side by side. This beer started as an ordinary bitter recipe which was brewed with 100% BKYeast C2 Brettanomyces yeast. The b version was put on 2 pounds of Blackberries (.8 lbs/gallon) to increase the sourness and play up the berry characteristics. I'm interested to see whether the beers have held up after about 4 1/2 years. Tasting notes below:
Appearance - amber-brown, a bit hazy (high carbonation pulled up some yeast immediately after popping the top). Voluptuous head that lasts throughout.
Smell - Earth, malt (toast), grass, berry. It definitely has the "wild strawberry" green/earth/wood/berry character that has been seen in this yeast isolate. Some musty/funky aromas and slight cardboard give an impression of age.
Taste - Very similar to the nose with some woody and berry flavors throughout, a touch of bitterness on the backend with a lingering strawberry and earth impression. No real oxidation character, showing once again the power of Brett to help a beer age gracefully.
Mouthfeel - Dry and highly carbonated but not thin or aggressive, very enjoyable.
Overall - This beer has aged better than I expected and is drinking a bit like some of the Brett biere de garde's I have tried. I could definitely see this strain working well, probably not as the only yeast, in a mixed ferment biere de garde.
21b (100% Brett Beer w/ Blackberries)
Appearance - Similar in color but less hazy (very clear) compared to the straight version. Almost no head and absolutely no retention (possibly due to the berries, but also appears to be much less carbonated). I remember this beer having a more reddish/pinkish/purplish hue when fresh but that color appears to have faded.
Smell - Very different smell with berries/fruity pebbles dominating. Earth and toast are found further in the background but it smells fruitier/sweeter.
Taste - The smell is deceiving in this one as the taste is actually much less sweet than the other version due to a moderate acidic kick. Not acetic but very noticeable (possibly malic) acid blends with some moderate blackberry flavors.
Mouthfeel - Thinner than the other version and with very little carbonation this one falls a little flat. the mouthfeel may be the weakest part of this beer.
Overall - I highly enjoy the smell of this beer and could see why I preferred this version fresh but time (and lack of carbonation) have not been as kind to this version with the berry flavors and color seeming to fade. This one does come off somewhat vinous and is by no means unenjoyable.
Impressions/Takeaways - Once again my old beers with Brett have held up and retained some very enjoyable characteristics. I've been thinking a lot about Biere de Garde recently and drinking these makes me very much want to try the C2 yeast in one.