Brooklyn Brewery’s Cloaking Device
No, Brooklyn Brewery’s Cloaking Device is not a high tech science fiction method of hiding their brewery, actually it is a rather curious beer. After the London Craft Beer Festival, The Great British Beer Festival and London Beer City Week, you might think we were all tapped out on beer, but then along comes Brooklyn Brewery with Cloaking Device to get us back on the wagon. Standing tall in its Brooklyn Brewery 750ml corked bottle, Cloaking Device is a 10.5% Brett-fermented porter that has been aged in French oak red wine barrels.
Brooklyn Brewery have been producing statement beers on a quarterly experimental basis. Over the past year, they’ve jumped from a barrel-aged coffee porter to a barrel-aged rye ale, to a framboise to a liquorice-spiced tripel – now ending up with the barrel-aged Brett Porter. A lot of creativity and invention is poured into these tall bottle-conditioned beers, so much in fact that the different styles and intricacies of these experiments could end up like marmite: you love it or you hate it.
Brett style beers fall very much into the love – hate divide. Unsurprisingly, you may be asking yourself what a “Brett style” beer even is. Brett is a type of yeast that imparts some very specific flavours in the brewing process and are very particular to certain types of beers, particularly Belgian ones like Lambics and Saisons. One thing they all have in common, is that they are notably sour and produce rather funky tastes and aromas. What Brooklyn Brewery have produced in their Brett Porter, though, is something that walks a fine line between the rich and dark flavour profile of the porter and the earthy, sourness to the Brett.
Just like a bottle of Champagne, there is that satisfying pop as you remove the cork from the bottle, and this comes from the beer having been re-fermented with champagne yeast during bottling – if you wanted to send that cork flying, feel free. After the whiff of carbon dioxide has cleared there is a strong smell that comes out the bottle before you get the chance to pour, giving you a hit of what is in store: the smell of red wine, fortified with Brett and wood aromas, like oak with a sweet maple finish, a light and bitter fruitiness coupled with the coffee of the porter.
On the pour, Cloaking Device is a deep, dark brown with an earthy head that rests at about a half inch before dissolving relatively quickly. Although appearing somewhat black in the glass, held up to the light, the beer shines through as the same shades of brown as the empty bottle.
The taste of Cloaking Device is somewhat harder to rationalise. It is at once thought provoking and slightly challenging the concept of what you’d expect from a Brett or a porter, with the oak red wine barrel age shining through and lingering long after the first sip. The taste itself is rather more complex, with the porter walking the very edge of the classic Brett style, without being immediately sour and yet still noticeable in piercing the deep taste of the porter. The woody, earthy flavours you would imagine from the Brett are there too, but not overpowering to the point of being off putting. Of course the rich, coffee porter taste is present, with a hint of bitter fruit.
Cloaking Device is an interesting beer to drink, which hits you the second you uncork the bottle all the way to the lingering aftertaste. It packs a strong punch with its 10.5% alcohol and a rather curious combination of taste and flavour that will intrigue and delight many whilst definitely turning a fair few off. We think you definitely should pick up one of the 750ml bottles and see for yourself. Brooklyn Brewery’s pairing notes include: Barbecue, venison, dry-aged steaks, science fiction, hearty cheeses, pubs with old wood panelling, dark chocolate, fine tobacco, fireplaces, and elegance… so a man cave by the sound of it? In the mean time, we will finish ours off an await the next Brooklyn Brewery Quarterly Experiment.