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And the Valley Drinks: NOLA Brewing's Sauvage

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A special offering from a local favorite.

Billy Gomila

It's been really cool to watch NOLA Brewing grow. Their tap room is a legit fantastic place to try new things, they have a barbecue joint sharing space and they're starting a distillery as well. Not bad for a pretty small outfit that I tried a couple years back at The Chimes and couldn't really find anywhere else for a long time. The days of having of waiting patiently for them to start canning are well over -- I can find all the main lines at the Winn Dixie around the corner from my house.

But they've been branching out into some cool areas for a number of years now, with some special projects, including some partnerships with other breweries like Stone out on the West Coast or Fulton Brewing out of Minnesota.

Unsurprisingly, some of their new projects include Brettanomyces, a type of yeast that's becoming more popular for IPAs and other Pale Ales because of the different properties they can add to a brew. "Brett" as it's known, creates acetic acid when it consumes glucose, which can enhance some flavors or add additional sour flavors. In this case, NOLA uses it as part of their Funk series in the pale ale Sauvage.

The wild side of pale, Sauvage is Rebirth Pale Ale base fermented with the Dirty Dozen Brett Blend (ECY34) entirely in French Oak barrels, resulting in woody and earthy notes. Sauvage is finished with not one but two encores of dry hopping. Because of the high level of aroma hopping, this beer is best enjoyed fresh, in good company, while getting a little wild.

The dry hopping includes Galaxy Hops, which are an Australian breed that are known for their particularly citrus-y notes.

This and Great Raft's Ocean's Between Us (which I may review at another time) are the first two Brett beers that I've tried. Still kind of forming my overall opinion.

Review

They're not kidding when they say the Brett adds depth of flavor -- even the bouquet of this beer had some layers. It smells really citrus-y, almost like lemon oil at first, but then you get some malty sweetness, almost like a Belgian style of beer like Abita's Purple Haze. When you take that first sip, it's pale as hell. You get that piny kind of prickly texture and you think it's going to be one of those super-hopped IPAs, but it dips quickly into some slightly fruity sweetness that balances the bitter well. The finish is really carbonated, almost like champagne kind of, and it brings back a little bit of bitterness, but in a way that never swings to heavy one way or the other. Almost like lemon peel more than the juice or pulp. There's a balance to it all that works, although the texture doesn't make this very sessionable. It's on the thicker side for a pale ale. Still, I give it a nice 3.75 stars out of 5. If you're looking to be a little adventurous, give this one a look-see.