Appearance: Fairly clear light straw color with minimal head that dissipates quickly into a thin surface lacing. Vastly different from the other raw beers.
Aroma: Slightly hoppy with a rustic barnyard note: earthy, herbal.
Taste: Grainy, herbal, a touch of citrus/lemon, funk throughout. I love it. The taste is everything I want out of a farmhouse ale.
Mouthfeel: Fairly thin but not watery; hard to explain.
Overall impression: This is a great beer; like I said above, it’s everything I want a farmhouse ale to be. I’m really pleased with this, especially since I was initially considering dumping it. This was the other half of the batch with the cypress/lemon balm wort, fermented with a wild sacc/brett mix for four months. It had this sort of unpleasant dirt flavor going on that I really disliked, I think from the lemon balm? I figured I should try dry hopping it so I filled a bottle from the fermenter, dropped a couple of horizon pellets in and a carb tab, after a week it was pretty good. I tried it again with some glacier pellets and it was also good so I kegged it with both and I was blown away! The dirt flavor is gone and replaced by this pleasant citrus note. Additionally the hops just seem to accentuate the funk from the brett. I need to dry hop with these hops more, they really are my favorite varietals.
Another thing rather striking is the clarity of the beer. Considering the other raw ales were quite hazy this one is downright transparent. I don’t know if that’s from the time or the brett or both.
Appearance: The beer is a pale amber and slightly hazy with a large pillowy head of foam that dissipates very slowly and never fully goes away. Quite a bit of lacing here as well.
Aroma: Grainy with a touch of an earthy herbal aroma and some fruitiness with a hint of lemon that comes out more as the beer warms up.
Taste: This is a malty beer with a fruitiness from the yeast and the herbs involved, it actually harmonizes quite well, nothing dominates. It’s not bitter but there is some hiding in the background, due to the beer’s dryness it, again, balances very well.
Mouthfeel: There is good body, it’s not thick like the spruce ale, but a nice body that sticks in your mouth for a bit after swallowing.
Overall Impression: This beer is very good, it’s extremely well balanced (toward the malty side). Considering that it’s a ‘herbal’ (not sure if cypress counts as a herb?) beer it’s not punching you in the face with either the cypress or the lemon balm and if you weren’t told they were in there you may have difficulty picking them out.
Appearance: The beer pours a hazy light amber with a ton of foamy white head. As the foam collapses it forms a dense foamy cap that does not dissipate, or at least it hung around until I finally drank it down with the final gulp. Lacing is abundant.
Aroma: Wheaty with a slight maltiness, but the dominant aroma is of the spruce tips, a hint of pine but mostly a sort of cool fruity citrus? I know that doesn’t make any sense, deal with it.
Taste: Spruce up front, not piney but more fruity with a hint of ascorbic acid that grudgingly gives way to malt/wheat on the finish with a very slight fusel alcohol burn probably from the hot ferment.
Mouthfeel: Very full bodied despite the FG of 1.003, probably due to the extra protein.
Overall impression: This is a good beer, but not great. I’m not sure if that’s particularly due to the fact that it is raw, I think it’s more due to fermenting it too hot than anything else. I also think it could use a little more hop presence which can probably be achieved with additional mash hops and/or some hops in the first wort/whirlpool.
I’ve read that raw ales do not last more than four to six weeks (though I’m not sure when you should start counting). It’s been nearly a month since brewing this beer and it’s only improved thus far. I’ll be sure to update this post if it declines (or if it doesn’t).