Saturday, February 13, 2010
Van Twee Belgian Ale pours dark, with a deep tan head that doesn't quit; not foamy-billowy, just tenacious. (It's a collaboration between John Mallett of Bell's and Dirk Naudts of De Proef, a combo of porter and dubbel, with Michigan sour cherry juice and good old Belgian brettanomyces. It's all here.) There's a nose of chocolate, clear cherry, and just a tinge of brett woodiness. The brett makes its presence known in the mouth, thought, as it pulls the fat sweetness you'd expect here right out of the picture. A sophisticated beer, with malt, chocolate, cherry, and brett coming together -- not fighting -- and no one factor overpowers the other. The only flaw is a mineral note I'm getting after the beer clears my mouth in the swallow; I believe it's brett-derived, and it's not wholly unpleasant.
Collaboration continues. Is it something wonderful? It can be. Is it something unique? Almost certainly. Is it collectible? Bet your monkey, and it's definitely tickable. So who are these beers made for? The brewers, the fans, and the wired-in Dark-Lord Kate-the-Great types for sure. The retailers whose rep is made by having those beers that are hot. Not for the general market.
Which is okay. I mean, that's who fugu sashimi is for, that's who Ferraris are for, that's who Thomas Pynchon novels are for, that's who 12-tone music is for. Van Twee, unlike all those others, is affordable, and actually tastes pretty damned good. Who the hell would want to eat Gravity's Rainbow?
Err...it's been pointed out to me that Gravity's Rainbow is actually quite affordable in paperback. As are recordings of Schoenberg's 12-tone music. Sorry. I was on a roll. I'm going to leave it, as it apparently amuses some of you. Thanks for the catch. However, I still maintain that Gravity's Rainbow would not be pleasant to eat, even with gravy.