A while back Perennial Artisan Ales sent us a care package* of three beers, all in Perennial’s standard 750 ml format, each beer coming from a different series; flagship, in season and the cellar.
The flagship beer was Perennial’s Aria, a Belgian-style ale fermented with Brett. The seasonal offering was Perennial’s Peach Berliner Weisse, an airy, sessionable beer brewed with Missouri peaches. The cellar selection was a hefty wheat wine, Heart of Gold.
Each beer stood out on its own accord, with subtle — and sometimes not so — aromas and flavors that gave us a glimpse at the uniqueness of what Perennial is doing. Lump them together, however, and you get a true taste of the creativity driving Perennial Artisan Ales.
We’ll start with the lightest of the bunch, Perennial’s Peach Berliner Weisse, which clocks in at a measly 4.2 % ABV. Pouring out straw in color and smelling of peach juice and tart raspberries, the Peach Berliner Weisse is equal parts crisp, effervescent and refreshing. The peach flavors are subtle, which is much appreciated as some fruit beers are far too fruity. This beer is released in August, just in time for the dog days of summer.
Aria, the Belgian-style ale fermented with Brett, is the one of you’ve most likely seen on store shelves. Subtlety is the name of the game with this year-round beer. The Brett doesn’t make this overly tart. You get a bit of the funk and sour as well as some spicy hops, honey, a touch of clove and even a bit of caramel. Beer Advocate calls it a Belgian Pale Ale but we think it leans more towards a Farmhouse Ale.
Heart of Gold, the Wheat Wine from the cellar series, is a bit outside of our wheelhouse. We’ll be the first to admit that a Wheat Wine is not our favorite style — cellared or fresh. But Heart of Gold is different. The wheat-y-ness of Wheat Wines we’ve sampled in the past wasn’t as in-your-face here. Instead, Heart of Gold was a tad sweet and a touch hoppy, more like an American Barley Wine than a Wheat Wine. It’s a touch herbal and grassy and floral with a kiss of honey and caramel and just a hint of grapefruit pith and vanilla. It’s part of Perennial’s cellar series for a reason; feel free to drink a fresh bottle and sit on one for a few years.
Perennial doesn’t hide the fact that it is creating beer for the seasoned craft beer drinker. And while the beers we sampled were quite complex, they are also easily approachable. Don’t let the large format bottle intimidate you. You need not be a wordsmith — nor have the palate — like the late Michael Jackson (Lord knows we’re neither) to enjoy these beers. But perhaps having gone around the block a few times with other brewers and styles may foster a deeper appreciate for what Perennial is doing.
*This beer was provided by the brewer for the purpose of a review.