Endless possibilities. That is why I love life and love beer. Beer is basically just four ingredients and changing anyone of them can change the taste of the beer.
One of the things that have happened in the last 12 months or so in beer is making a second version of your beer using Brettanomyces and aging the beer to bring out different flavors and characteristics. Although, it is popularly thought of as only being used in sour beers, brett does not provide sourness necessarily. Brett does often produce a taste similar to that of balsamic vinegar. However, as more brewers use it, they are learning to control it better and use all the flavor profiles that it can provide.
One of the breweries really using brett in all of its flavors and attributes is Wicked Weed in Asheville. Wicked Weed while famous for its sours is a good brewery that makes many different types of beer. One of which is a good red India pale ale called Tyranny. It has a nice balanced taste. Wicked Weed then put out a version with fermented with brett yeast. First, I’ll look at Tyranny.
Tyranny is a red India pale ale. It pours a nice light garnet/ruby color in the glass leaving a thin but persistent off-white head. The first thing you nose catches is the dank, piney, resinous aroma of the hops. Then you notice the caramel and bready aroma of the malt. There is also a slight fruity aroma from the hops that works with the sweet caramel to make the aroma more appetizing.
The best way to describe the taste of Tyranny is the oft overused beer review word: balanced. The piney, resinous hop taste doesn’t overwhelm and interacts really well with the nice caramel, bready taste from the malt. Tyranny is a good clean tasting, easy drinking IPA.
Now, the Brett Tyranny is similar in many ways to the regular Tyranny. It has a similar color but is slightly lighter because of the use of cherries during fermentation. The medium mouthfeel is also very close to the regular Tyranny.
Where they differ is in the aroma and the taste. The aroma has the horse blanket, barnyard smell that Brett has become famous for in its use in beer. The Brett also changes the taste in an interesting way. This combination of Brett with caramel malts and dank, piney hops creates a taste of earthiness. It almost comes out as an old-world noble hop taste.
I can’t say I prefer the Brett version of Tyranny over the regular Tyranny, but I can say that if I had tasted the Brett version first I would still list as a really good easy drinking IPA.