Style: Farmhouse Saison
Malts: German Pilsner
Yeast: Brooklyn’s Belgian strain (primary), champagne yeast (secondary, large bottles only)
ABV: 7.4% (35.5cl bottles), 7.6% (75cl bottles)
(All other posts will have a photo of a poured glass, but as you’re about to find out, I couldn’t wait that long)
On a recent visit to my sister’s in Southampton I was told I had to try a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace. Luckily for me, she lives within rolling distance from Bitter Virtue. On my first trip there I thought it was an offy on a small residential backroad. As soon as the door opened and I took in the wall to ceiling shelves stacked my mind was blown. I wandered wide-eyed towards the back of the shop, making notes of exotic-looking brews I wanted to try. Finding the nook that hosted American brews (it’s not a small section compared to the rest of Bitter Virtue, it’s more that the whole shop is nooks and crannies that pull you to you knees to read a label on an intriguing gose, or stand on tiptoe to get the last bottle of that limited edition brew), I pulled my first bottle of Sorachi Ace from the shelf. After that things were never quite the same again. Not only because of this Brooklyn brew, but that also happened to be the first night I really took to craft beer, to learning about it and realising that a number of likeminded not-quite-hopheads were going through the same experience. There’s a whole world of amazing beers out there, but finding your way can be quite daunting for the uninitiated. I’m lucky enough to know some lovely people with a bit of insider knowledge, so why not share what I’m learning?
My first taste of the smaller 35.5cl bottle was rather special, and it quickly became something of a favourite. So when it came to the first tasting for this blog I thought I’d go fancy and opt for the larger, corked 75cl bottle. It’s slightly different in that it uses champagne yeast alongside Brooklyn’s own Belgian yeast and is bottle fermented. The results are spectacular.
The bottle conditioning adds the ‘crackling dry, hoppy, […] golden’ drink that the label promises, as well as giving it the mouthfeel of something a bit special (and at around £12 for the 75cl bottle, it’s best kept that way).
This brings me to the hops. Sorachi Ace has roots in Japan, before disappearing and reappearing in Washington State. The hop has an incredible lemon flavour and aroma, as well as as dill and a hint of fresh grassiness. Other flavour profiles I have read mention a slight taste of bubblegum and coriander too, which I won’t rule out though I didn’t initially identify them. The dry hopping helps this understated yet complex flower to really show off, something that not all brewers manage (keep an eye out for future posts).
As a former wine fan, it occurred to me that this could be a good crossover drink for those white wine fans looking to broaden their horizons, or for a beer fan to tempt their beloved wino to the hoppy side. They won’t be able to resist the crisp, lemony and almost dry flavour and premium mouthfeel. Also, it has a cork – no wine drinker can resist a bottle that comes with a cork. That is a fact. Brooklyn Brewery’s Sorachi Ace shows how wonderfully complex beer can be, and the bold balance of flavours has the light crisp lemon dancing over the wonderfully full bodied hops, showcasing the drink as a whole rather than punching you in the face with a fistful of hops (though I am in no way adverse to a very hoppy brew).
Brookyln Brewery’s website says it’s great with a multitude of foods, but I didn’t quite get this far as I was enjoying the tasting too much. Oh well, I’ll have to try again.
Overall, Brooklyn Brewery’s big bottle Sorachi Ace feels like an event beer. Its something to buy for a celebration – not quite a substitute for a glass of champagne perhaps, but something to toast with then sit and enjoy with your nearest and dearest.
On my list of favourite beers, it’s currently number one. So far, Brooklyn Brewery’s ACEd it.
(Sorry, but I had to get a pun in somewhere)