It's been nearly a year since the first bottle release from Safety Harbor's Crooked Thumb Brewing. Two brews were released at that event, both from the brewery's Abbey of the South series, a line of brews inspired by the iconic styles traditionally brewed in Belgian monasteries.
One of the bottles — Brett Singel Aged on Plums — is now available in 16-ounce bottles both at Crooked Thumb's tasting room (555 10th Ave. S in Safety Harbor) as well as at your well-stocked local beer store. This beer's a sleeper hit: somewhat under the radar, but absolutely outstanding and worth seeking out.
The idea is to start with a traditional Belgian singel, a lighter style of Belgian pale ale often consumed by brewing monks but only recently gaining popularity outside of monastery grounds.
The beer is then co-fermented with Crooked Thumb's house Belgian yeast, along with a wild yeast originating from Belgium that adds a variety of exotic, complex flavors. The beer is then aged and refermented on 400 pounds of plums for two months before undergoing a third fermentation by way of bottle conditioning.
Brett Singel Aged on Plums pours an unusual and opaque rose-gold, with a fine layer of foam on top. The aroma is a very mild, soft funk, with an underlying spice and notes of fruit such as pear and stone fruit. It's a compelling nose — not over the top in the funk department, but layered enough to demand closer examination.
The taste is crisp and clean up front, with a plum-like juiciness in the finish. This is mostly the power of suggestion, as any plum flavor you'll find in this beer is going to be very subtle (it's already a delicate flavor prefermentation, and that's before the sugars are consumed by yeast), but it's there nonetheless.
One benefit of Brettanomyces yeast used and bottle conditioning is the ability for beers to experience some pleasant aging, versus beers that are generally best consumed fresh, such as IPAs. The complex flavors of this brew have had a year to age from the time the caps went on the bottles, and it's drinking beautifully right now.
— Justin Grant
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