Am. Pale on Brett by Akasha – Review

Akasha American Pale on BrettFinal Word:  Akasha Brewing Co. is still in its infancy as a business (they don’t have official operating hours yet), but what I tasted at a temporary opening was evidence of practiced hands, like musicians who have spent decades with their instrument, and their work promises to instantly have them standing shoulder to shoulder with members of the old guard.  I was very surprised at Co-Founder/Brewer Rick Stidham’s suggestion that my first-ever review of Akasha (at the time of their first ever opening) be anything involving Brettanomyces (a unique, unpredictable, often unwanted strain of yeast), but when you’ve got it, you’ve got it, and the American Pale on Brett proved to be a stellar example of how Akasha has the chops to play it and play it well.  Visually, the beer showed promise with beautiful, cloudy, bright, golden orange coloring, a thick, super persistent, rocky head, and a full sheet of lace down the cup.  I leaned in slowly for the aroma, fearing an uppercut of overwhelming Brettanomyces barnyard or vinegar smells, but my chin remained unharmed and I instead found a very appetizing aroma of delicate, herbal, leafy hops and mulled cider sweetness, tartness, and spiciness.  There was a touch of Brett funk in the aroma, but mouthwatering smells of tart fruit juice and mulling spices like clove and cinnamon bark conjured images of delicious holiday cider.  These early positive signs proved to be true indicators of how good the flavor would be.  Up front on the tongue, there was a recognizable but reserved character of herbal hops, mulling spices, and a very light touch of tart, slightly acidic, funky Brett.  A dried tea leaf bitterness slowly develops in the finish, eventually drying out the tongue a bit and leaving a rich, biscuity malt flavor.  The tea-like quality extends to the flavor of the hops as well, with an herbal, young growth/green tea character that is a refreshing change of pace from the grapefruit/citrus bomb flavors in many hoppy beers.  Speaking of pace, the whole package moves and develops at a perfect speed; never rushing towards the next flavor, but each element waiting until just the right moment to sound, like an instrument fading in.  Regarding balance and complexity, both are perfect, with every rough edge polished away and every unruly player under control.  However, all of this wonderful balance, complexity, and uniqueness were carried by a mouthfeel that was quite thin, which made the APoB very drinkable and thirst quenching, but may lack some of the pronounced flavor and texture that some drinkers are looking for.  If a medium body would come at the expense of any of the balance or flavor, then I would strongly resist changing anything, because this beer is strong enough as-is, and it feels like a beer you can already consider one of your favorites.  Some careers develop over the course of years; slowly finding acclaim by grinding away imperfections and honing your craft.  Akasha has obviously put in this work behind the scenes, but their debut is good enough that they could become an instant classic.

Pairs With:
The Partisan by Leonard Cohen
Neither overwrought nor heavy handed.  Delicate execution and sophisticated delivery by a young gun showing his peers how to sing a classic.

Tasting Notes

Alcohol By Volume: 4.7%

Appearance: Very cloudy, bright, golden orange with a very persistent, rocky head that stayed thick and stuck around for a long time.  Full sheet of lace down the cup.

Aroma: Very spicy, floral, leafy aroma, with a lot of yeasty spiciness like clove and mulling spices, and a light touch of Brett funk and sharpness.  A bit of tart fruit juice, like holiday cider and orange.

Taste & Mouthfeel: A very thin mouthfeel carries flavors of delicate, herbal hops, mulling spices, Brett funk and sharpness, and leafy green tea up front, with leafy bitterness slowly developing in the finish with the rich, biscuity malts.