Have you seen the newest creation from Victory Brewing Company called Tart Ten? If you love mildly sour ales and All Things Wild, this is the brew for you! Its described as a strong, refreshingly zingy, tart-tingly Belgian Dubbel sour ale fermented with Brettanomyces.
“Brettan-O-My-Um-What?” It’s Brettanomyces! A quite interesting variety of yeast used in brewing beer to add a tart and funky complex flavor. Prior to the late 19th century, brettanomyces naturally occurred in wooden fermenters of Belgian ales, saisons and lambics prior to sanitation processes and stainless steel vessel fermentation. It also can be found out and about in the wild living on the skin of some fruits. Tart Ten uses a non spore-forming Brettanomyces yeast (often shortened to simply, “Brett”). The brew’s malt profile consists of: Pilsner, Vienna, Munich, Cara 350, Cara 150, and Acidulated. Czech Saaz hops were used as well.
Blending the Old with the New
Respecting European tradition and Belgium’s vast history of brewing and beer styles, Victory’s brewmasters applied their signature American ingenuity and creativity, marrying these influences in Tart Ten, which is rich in flavor but light in body.
“Our thirst for creativity is only seconded by our literal thirst for a great tasting, uniquely special beer that can boldly stand out on its own. Challenging our fans to taste something new is how we fulfill our professional ambitions,” said Victory’s Founder and Brewmaster, Bill Covaleski. “Harnessing technology and tradition, we rely on inspiration to provide the creative spark that brings such innovative creations as Tart Ten to our fans.”
My Tasting Experience
Tart Ten is a whopping 10% ABV so don’t expect to down the entire 750 ml bottle all by yourself in an hour. For me it was a sipping beer great for sharing. I opted to pop my cage and corked bottle last Friday night at the ‘Let’s Forget The Workweek and Drink Some Beeeeeers!’ weekly gathering amongst our friends here in Dillsburg, PA. Our little beer group loves to share new and interesting brews that we each get a hold of from various travels, local bottleshops/breweries and some occasional Beer Mail.
Tart Ten has a boozey, oaky aroma that I found quite delightful. It was foreshadowing what I was about to taste. Flavors of black cherry, raisin, oak, lemon, tart sour cherry, and just a light amount of funkiness that shifts into rich oak and toasty, popcorn malt notes. Note that this beer is not fruity or sickening sweet like some folks are describing on BeerAdvocate.com. It’s very well balanced with layers of flavor complexity. Starts tart. Finishes smooth and rich. Not at all heavy, mind you. Reminds me of a mild version of the Flanders Red Ale style.
It’s An Exciting Time For Craft Beer
I love seeing breweries break away from their usual lineup of flagship brews to produce seasonal options and limited releases. ‘Trying something new’ drives many of my beer selections. My taste buds get bored very, very easily. Recently, I wrote a post about the seemingly downturn of Flagship Beers and why this might be happening. With this in mind, I asked Bill Covaleski his thoughts on the topic as well as how they came up with the name Tart Ten and what foods pair well with the brew.
Q1: Beer Enthusiasts are starting to move toward trying something new and different. Sometimes more so than drinking a classic, favorite over and over. Has Victory felt this trend in terms of new brew requests from distributors, bars, or drinkers? Has there been a shift in sales from your classic beers to new brew offerings?
Bill: “Victory has always prided ourselves on our ingenuity and willingness to experiment by launching new beers, crafting seasonals or putting twists on old favorites a la Sour Monkey. I think you see a thirst for new and more from craft beer lovers and it is driven by the pure wealth of good beer out there. You will read that flagship brands are stumbling in brewers’ portfolios and this is primarily because the flood of new options are stealing attention. The silver lining is that familiarity is comfortable and when a customer desires comfort they connect with proven winners. It feels really good to see positive reactions to our new or limited releases but it is something we’ve been doing for a long time. In addition to embracing new brands, our loyal fan base keeps coming back to their 20 year favorites and we are at a very cool point in our legacy where those fans are introducing a whole new generation to Golden Monkey or Prima Pils and that is an awesome sight to behold.”
Q2 Tell me the story behind the name… why Tart Ten? Is the “Ten” in reference to its 10% ABV?
Bill: “As developing craft beer drinkers, we enjoyed our Belgian beer experience and beers like Rochefort 10 registered strong, positive impressions on us. So the ‘Ten’ is a reference to the beer’s strength but also a nod to the direction we were heading with this creation.”
Q3 What foods pair well with Tart Ten?
Bill: “Tart Ten is a boldly flavored beer that requires a bold food partner. It is tart and strong, but of a mild body, with great carbonation and a very smooth finish that it can cut through and complement even really rich foods—think stinky cheese, spicy clam chowder or fatty pork belly.”
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