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750s that are worth it The fear of paying a premium for a beer you won’t like is legitimate. But some of the best beer available is found in those intimidating, 750-milliliter bottles. Bottling beer like wine is cheaper and more efficient for breweries, but that’s not the only reason they do it. The reason you should venture into a larger format is the texture it produces. Bigger bottles are the medium of choice for bottle conditioning, which is when a small, secondary fermentation takes place in the bottle. Like the méthode champenoise of Champagne, bottle conditioning creates softer, more velvety bubbles rather than the sharper bite of carbon dioxide in forced carbonated beers. Is it wrong to associate good beer with the heft of a six-pack? No more so than it is to enjoy a 32-ounce Miller High Life – not wrong at all. But with a little research, you can eliminate the risk in buying big bottles and taste the reward. – David Schroeder

BRASSERIE DUPONT FORÊT SAISON

MYSTIC SAISON RENAUD

BONNY DOON ¿QUERRY? CIDER

Forêt is an oftenoverlooked organic saison. The aptly named beer is dry but fruity with complex scents and flavors typifying the perfume classification chypre: citrus with woody, mossy notes. Parker’s Table, 7118 Oakland Ave., Richmond Heights, 314.645.2050, parkerstable.com

This saison is made with one type of Pilsner malt and a single addition of Saaz hops fermented with a clean, expressive yeast. The result emits both fruitiness and a dryness reminiscent of Pilsners. Craft Beer Cellar, 8113 Maryland Ave., Clayton, 314.222.2444, craftbeercellar.com/clayton

In a market overrun with saccharine, single-note options, this cider offers gratifying complexity. The winery ferments pears and quince fruit along with apples from its vineyard to produce this multifaceted cider. Grapevine Wines, 309 S. Kirkwood Road, Kirkwood, 314.909.7044, grapevinewinesandspirits.com

PANIL BARRIQUEE

ANYTHING FROM SIDE PROJECT

2ND SHIFT KATY

Plum and red currant notes acquired from aging in cognac barrels anchor the balsamic vinegar-like acidity in this complex sour beer. The Wine & Cheese Place, 7435 Forsyth Blvd., Clayton, 314.727.8788, wineandcheeseplace.com

This brewery’s legendary status (and international reputation) makes it hard to bring a bottle home – beer nerds will travel for this stuff, and release events sell out quickly. Follow @SideProjectBrew on Twitter for information on bottle releases of these amazing beers.

Barrel-aging and wild yeast Brettanomyces in Katy produce a textured complexity that offsets the subtle tartness of the beer. Saint Louis Hop Shop, 2606 Cherokee St., St. Louis, 314.261.4011, saintlouishopshop.com

PHOTO BY JONATHAN GAYMAN

For more on how to survive Side Project bottle releases, see p. 15.

Guide to Beer 2016

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