As I previously mentioned, a few week ago I found myself in Philly on a mission. I wanted to find a few bottles of beer from companies I had never seen before. While I may have been a little delusional that I would walk into a store hiding the east coast honey hole for Russian River, I did actually find a few interesting looking bottles. The walk from the hotel to the bottle store was about 2 miles, so I knew I would have to lug all that back. I wasn’t really sure how many bottles I would feel comfortable carrying, and I didn’t have a backpack. Thus, I needed to pick up some good bottles while considering the work load. Ultimately I went with a six-pack of 12 oz bottles and one bigger bottle. There were a few different bottles I was thinking about for my big bottle selection; however, I ultimately went with one from Pretty Things Brewery.
Pretty things is yet another interesting little idea for a brewery out of Massachusetts. I’ve reviewed two different gypsy breweries on here before, but this is my first tenant brewery. Gypsy brewers travel around and use a variety of different people’s’ facilities to produce their fine concoctions. Tenant brewers don’t move around; instead, they utilize an established brewery’s facilities on the weekends when they aren’t producing. Yet another fine idea for a brewery to exist without their own individual facilities. This husband and wife team does all the brewing and the host brewer helps them with the packaging. Seems like an effective set up.
This beer caught my eye for two different reasons. First of all, it’s a brewery I’m very unfamiliar with. Ironically I ended up picking up their collaboration with Boulevard Brewery; however, for the most part, I haven’t seen their brews offered anywhere else. Secondly, the beer used an interesting process I’m very unfamiliar with. They characterize this beer as a lager with a roasted quality and brown disposition. However, they then also use a process known as decoction. Evidently decoction involves boiling the mash, which in turn, is apparently an old way of insuring temperature accuracy. That’s the short explanation anyway. Either way, it was something I didn’t recognize, so it was something I had to try.
This one pours out a very dark brown color that borders on nearly black. It has a very nice light tan head that develops on top. The head results in good lacing and some very pleasant sticky residue as well. The beer is certainly too dark to get a real sense of clarity; although, you can tell that the beer seems to have a slightly thick and oily appearance to it. While the bottle described it as a brown lager, I was thinking it was quite a bit darker than I was expecting.
The smell is certainly dominated by a lot of big sweet malts. The most predominate sweet malts would have to be chocolate; however, you can get some light roasting there as well. With the sweetness and roasting is a nice light aroma of toffee and burnt sugar to compliment the rest of the brew. There is definitely a slightly boozy aroma to it, but it isn’t enough to get me worried about it being rather heavy. I think you can smell some slight hops, but they definitely take a backseat to the dominant hops.
The flavor profile is dominated by some big sweet malts at the onset. Interestingly, I get some nice fig that follows the sweetness of the malts. These are the fig flavors I typically associate with Belgian beers, so it does have a slightly Belgian feel for a second, but it definitely goes back to lager as the yeast comes in. Lager and Belgian yeast seem to be the most noticeable to me. The yeast seems to set up the transition from the beginning to the end of the beer. The big chocolate flavors dominate the second half. Complimenting the chocolate is some nice toffee and caramel flavors. Some very needed hops lead the beer into its finish. Some big dark chocolate and light residual hops finish out the beer.
The appearance and some of the big sweet factors had this beer feeling like it could be a heavy beer. Thankfully, the ample amount of carbonation gets the mouthfeel quite a bit lighter than its appearance. I’m certainly no expert in decoction; however, I felt like this beer had a much more rustic feel with some very mild Belgian influences. Either way, the flavors are really well-balanced throughout.
Pretty Things may be a rough brewery to find; however, they seem to have a very interesting line-up I would like to get my hands on. We dove into this beer while watching UFC one night at my house, and I think it may have been the best beer we had all night. It is certainly a great beer from a really interesting brewer. I hope this isn’t my last bottle of theirs.
Teacher Grade: A