Stone Brewing Company released a unique line of IPAs named, “Enjoy After”, loosely modeled after their successful “Enjoy By” IPA series. The idea behind the Enjoy After series is to showcase a wild yeast strain, Brettanomyces, that changes the character of the beer as it ages.
Brettanomyces, or Brett, has the ability to metabolize long chain sugars that traditional brewing yeast cannot. Over time, Brett will increase the dryness of a beer by removing residual sugars as well as provide unique aromas and flavors. The aroma descriptors are commonly described as earthy, barnyard funk, wet horse blanket, hay, etc. Brett is not for the entry level craft beer lover, but once you gain an appreciation, you will always gravitate toward a beer with Brett on any menu.
Stone’s enjoy after date is exactly 1 year after the beer was bottled. This series gave me a unique ability to see how Brett changes the exact same base beer over time. My wildly unscientific experiment was to open a bottle 6 months before the enjoy after date, open a bottle on the date prescribed, and let two age 6 months and 1 year after the prescribed enjoy after date. For this experiment, I had both Enjoy After 07.04.16 and 10.31.16.
I cracked open a 10.31.16 bottle at the end of May, which meant the Brett only had 6 months in the bottle. I thought the beer had decent balance between the hops and the Brett. Additionally, there was not an overwhelming presence of Brett on the aroma, which was expected.
I then had both Enjoy After 07.04.16 and 10.31.16 on the prescribed dates. I don’t think there was much difference in the Brett characteristic between a 6 months early and an on time enjoyment.
Next, I opened a 07.04.16 six months after in January of 2017. Again, not much difference between on time and 6 months late; however, if compared to the six months early open, the Brett really starts to shine. So far, letting Brett continue to work for over a year really demonstrates this unique yeast strain’s ability to drastically change a beer.
Lastly, a few days ago, I was able to have a 07.04.16 on 07.13.17 and it was in its prime! Notice the rocky, mousse-like head below. The IPA bitterness provided a great counter point to the Brett flavors and this beer finished impressively dry. The aroma was dominated by Brett, giving a hay like aroma. I wish I had my refractometer handy so that I could take a gravity reading.
Since my plan was to open my last bottle of Enjoy After 10.31.16 at the 1 year late mark (2 years after bottling), I am now going to save it for 10.31.18 to see how much affect Brett has on a three year old bottle.