Saturday, January 3, 2009

Tasted: Pretty Things' Jack d'Or

Dann Paquette, founder of the Pretty Things project, said in a recent interview with that with the economy the way it was, he couldn’t afford to open his own brewery. Instead, Paquette opted for the lower-cost method of brewing on Paper City Brewing Co.’s equipment. Now, I’ve never been a huge fan of the beer coming out of Paper City. To my palate, most of the offerings from Paper City had a peculiar minerality that was too distracting for me to enjoy them – though that said, many of my beer-drinking amigos love the stuff. Anyway, I chalked up the minerality to a trick of the local water supply, or maybe a slight flaw in the brewing equipment, and didn’t think much more of it.

After tasting Jack d’Or, I can say without reservation that the water and brewing equipment at Paper City are fine – indeed, the brewery seems to be operating perfectly.

Jack d’Or pours a rich yellow-gold with a thick, pristine white head which clings to the glass. There is a bright, citrusy hop note on the nose that complements a classic saison bouquet of lemon, pine, light red and green fruits, herbs, and a certain “funk” characteristic of Belgian yeast strains.

A sip reveals an intriguing, inviting light- to medium-bodied brew, effervescent and delicate in demeanor. The front of the palate displays soft notes of dried banana and sweet spices (I caught ginger and root herbs). The delightfully acidic mid-palate gave the impression of lightness and effervescence. Rich, dried fruits like blackcurrants, starfruit, and pear grace the back of the palate, accented by a beautiful hop bitterness that is assertive but not overwhelming. The beer stands as a testament to what American hop profiles should be like, and throws into stark contrast the myriad American brews that have missed the mark. The finish was long, dry, and pleasantly bitter. The experience left me gaping in awe. Absolute perfection.

Not only is this the best beer I’ve had in months, it’s the single most spectacular beverage I can remember drinking in quite some time. Everything about this beer screams quality. The malt is sticky, but not nearly overbearing. The hops are fresh and delicious, providing a wonderful compliment to the crisp saison tang. Put another way, if this beer was a white wine, I would happily pay in the neighborhood of $100 for it. This is a refreshing beverage to say the least, and an amazing first offering from Pretty Things and Dann Paquette.

Fans of Jack d’Or won’t have to wait long for a second offering from Pretty Things. Rumor is that a second brew is in the works, to be released early in 2009. No word yet on what style the beer might be, but the beer-drinking community is hotly anticipating its arrival nevertheless.

In the mean time, get to know Jack. You’ll be glad you did.

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