Saturday, June 2, 2012

Pretty Things. And History.



So, holy crap, Pretty Things Beer And Ale Project (originally from Somerville, MA, our old stomping grounds) is now apparently being kinda-sorta distributed in New Orleans! First, for American Craft Beer Week, the Avenue Pub did a tasting of two beers released through their "Once Upon A Time" project. This particular project was the result of a collaboration with beer historian Ron Pattinson, and examined what happens when you brew the same Mild "X" beer as it was brewed in both 1838 and 1945. From their website:
Two X Ales from the same London brewery, 107 years apart: these beers were brewed and sold as the “same beer”. But they weren’t the same beer at all! This side-by-side release allows you to taste history in a very direct, beat-you-about-the-head kind of way. The beers are whoppingly, fantastically different. There’s no way you would think they are connected by the same brewery, brand name and style. Isn’t history wonderful?
 We first tasted these beers during the Pub event during ACBW, and then a few weeks later, with bottles procured at Stein's that same night and kept refrigerated. Here's what they look like side by side:

1945 on the left, 1838 on the right
The 1838 is described on the oldbeers.com website as "golden and very hoppy." I would certainly have agreed with that assessment when we had the beers on draft at the Pub, but the bottle pour is much less hoppy and has a definite smoke taste on the back end of the swallow. Both times I've had it there was a significant bready malt taste present. I'd have loosely compared the 1838 on draft to a British IPA, but in the bottle, it definitely has more yeast and malt notes, and the smoke at the end... that earthiness brings to mind something more along the lines of a farmhouse ale. Both times we had it, it was tasty- it was just quite different from draft to bottle.

The 1945 is post WWII rationing symbolized perfectly in this beer. It's dark, weak (2.8%!!!) and very grainy. Now, from that description, you may not think that would be a tasty beer.  But wait! The grain flavor is subtly roasted and robust, and it is an exceedingly pleasant beer to drink. Very low carbonation and thin mouthfeel make it easy drinking, and the roasty notes and background spicy hop bitterness gives it a good flavor. It's not a popular style for today's beer geek, but I like it lots- it's got the session ale thing going on, and dammit, I like a nice mild from time to time! (commence shunning.)

So we found these two beers along with bottles of Jack D'Or (Pretty Things' flagship beer, an "American Saison") at Stein's (were all still there as of this past Thursday) and this past Friday, the Avenue Pub had bottles of two other Pretty Things beer: Fluffy White Rabbits and Babayaga. I had a Fluffy White Rabbits and it was EXCELLENT- a beautiful hoppy tripel style. YUM. I hope I can still get my hands on the Babayaga when I return this weekend.

According to Polly Watts at the Avenue Pub, Pretty Things comes sporadically (in both kegs and bottles) and is generally drunk up quick. DAMN YOU FACEBOOK, WHY DON'T YOU PUT THE PUB'S UPDATES IN MY FEED!?!?!? So, you know, keep an eye out. I generally track what's going on through Twitter, because it looks like every time they post a new beer on BeerMenus, it automatically updates to Twitter. Watts has featured Pretty Things during her nanobrewery night during American Craft Beer Week for the past two years, and that history with Shelton Brothers helped her land the Once Upon A Time beers. However, the deliveries are anything but regular and reliable, making it a happy day and wonderful surprise when they show up in town.

Pretty Things had just started getting off the ground when we left New England a couple of years ago, and I wish I'd had a chance to get to know it a bit more before we left. But now, it's starting to come to us, little by little, in dribs and drabs, which is just super fantastic. Fingers crossed it continues!

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