Victory Brewing has brought the funk.
The Pennsylvania-based craft brewer recently introduced Tart Ten, a summer seasonal that was fermented with Brettanomyces yeast, imparting a rich, barnyard aroma and slightly tart taste to the Belgian-style dubbel ale. Amid the sudsy deluge of limited summer beers, here's one you might have missed that pairs well with a premium cigar.
Brettanomyces, also known as "brett," is a genus of yeast that some brewmasters (and winemakers) shy from away since it can potentially spoil a beer. Often considered a "wild yeast" for its tendency to produce unpredictable results, brett typically offers earthy, barnyard notes that are considered undesirable in most beer styles. However, this hasn't stopped craft brewers from culturing brett and harnessing its powers to gain complexity, as brett is commonly found in Belgian ales, saisons and lambics.
Brewed with pilsner and caramel malts, Tart Ten was only brewed with one varietal of hop: Saaz from the Czech Republic. According to brewmaster Bill Covaleski, who co-founded Victory in 1996 with Ron Barchet, Tart Ten can also be aged.
"Being a more malt-and-yeast driven recipe instead of a hop-dominated brew, our Tart Ten is a good candidate for limited aging experimentation," says Covaleski. "In six to twelve months of proper cellar aging, we'd expect the malt sweetness to envelope the tart fermentation characteristics a bit more, moving the beer's overall impression to being more richly integrated."
Tart Ten is available in 37 states in both 750 ml. bottles and on draft.
Victory Brewing Tart Ten (10 percent abv, $9.99 per 750 ml bottle)
APPEARANCE: Pours a hazy amber-copper with no head.
AROMA: Faint sour apple, cherries and rich barnyard (hay, earth) with lemon.
PALATE: Tart, acidic notes—blood orange and black cherry—at the start, with a distinct hit of kimchi. As the beer warms, hints of toffee and caramel balance the tartness. A nice sourdough bread note clings to the mouth on the refreshingly malty finish.
CIGAR PAIRING: Flores Y Rodriguez Connecticut Valley Reserve (Dominican Republic, 6 1/2 inches by 52 ring gauge, $19, 90 points, August 2016 Cigar Aficionado) This well-made diadema wears a dark, veiny wrapper and delivers lots of creamy smoke redolent of chocolate and nuts coupled with a raisin-like sweetness.
We chose this cigar to create a contrast between the acidity of the beer and the sweetness of the cigar. It worked wonderfully, as the raisin notes teased out more of the earthiness from the beer. Vice versa, the beer refined the chocolate and nutty notes to create a pleasant hazelnut flavor on the palate.