He’s not tall, dark and handsome. He’s not a long drink of water, and he’s not the latest TV serial killer or even a recently optioned pitcher for the Red Sox. So then, who the heck IS Brett Anomyces? Be patient. If you know Brett, don’t blurt it out in front of the others, and if you don’t know who this slippery character is, read on.
I was privileged recently to be a special guest on the lime green Maine Brew Bus named “Lenny,” as we visited four new Maine breweries: Banded Horn in Biddeford and three in the same industrial park in Portland. Among them was Austin Street Brewery, a fledgling one-barrel system awaiting its final approval by the State of Maine before rolling out their first brews.
One of the beers we tasted was called “Lawnmower” beer, a saison style of the Belgian persuasion. While sipping it and rolling it around on our tongues, a hum went up among the crowd. My nearby tasting companion declared, “There’s something in here,” as he smacked his tongue on the roof of his mouth. He didn’t look pleased. I happily declared, “I taste banana.” We glared at each other with much skepticism, then we looked to the guys who made the beer: Jake Austin and Will Fisher, brothers-in-law and partners in this new venture.
In an interview I was able to get later, the guys talked via speaker phone, and Jake explained, “Brettanomyces is a type of wild yeast used to make a Saison, which is traditionally a Belgian style. Americans have embraced the style in the past few years. The aroma depends on how you’re using the Brett. If you are using it in primary fermentation, it’s milder, but if you’re using it in the secondary fermentation, you might get horse blanket, wet hay, funkiness.”
Ahh. Mystery man revealed. “Brett” used to be anathema in a brewery. Now brewers are deliberately going for that unique funk.
Jake says, “It’s not for everyone, but the first time I tasted a beer like that, I fell in love.” He thinks that first beer that influenced his attempt here was probably Allagash Confluence.
Austin Street is waiting on one last approval from the State before they roll out the two flagship beers, Patina Pale Ale and Lawnmower. Using a tiny, 1 bbl system that produces 31 gallon batches, the pair guarantee they will go to a bigger system at some point. “It takes the same time to brew a small batch of beer as a larger one,” Jake says, laughing.
How did they meet? Will is Jake’s brother in law. Jake had been homebrewing for 5 years, and both he and Will wanted to take on an entrepreneurial project. Will said, “Jake has the skills, I wanted to own a business, and we play off each other’s skill sets to make it all come together.”
Until they get a full web site up and running, the guys urge beer lovers to refer to their Facebook page for frequent progress updates.
From the Austin Street Facebook page, the technical description of Lawnmower:
First up is our honey saison, tentatively named “Lawnmower Beer”. This is the beer we reach for during the warmer months, when something on the lighter side is preferred but we don’t want to get shorted on flavor. Big fruit flavor(apricot, peach, grapefruit) gives way to a dry peppery finish. The honey is wildflower honey sourced from coastal Harpswell Maine. It comes through nicely in the aroma but is honestly overpowered by our house saison yeast on the palate.
At 4.8%ABV and a super dry finish this is a beer that goes down easy and won’t fill you up. Great with lighter foods like fish tacos and mild cheeses or just fine on its own.
***Photos courtesy of Jake Austin, taken from Austin Street Brewery’s Facebook page by permission.