Beer of the Week: HaandBryggeriet’s Wild Thing

Posted on January 25th, 2011

About the Beer:

Norway’s HaandBryggeriet is known for making traditional Norweigian styles and for their commitment to hand-crafted brews produced without filtering or pasteurization. All of their bottled beers are bottle conditioned and contain live yeast, causing them to actively change the beer as it ages. In a sense, their beers are alive. As they claim on their website: “We make living beer thats not filtered or artificially ┬ácarbonated, but naturally re fermented in the bottle [sic].”

HaandBryggeriet’s Wild Thing [7.5% ABV] is an American Wild Ale brewed with cranberries and currants. As we’ve mentioned before, wild ales are a style marked by the presence of wild bacterias and/or yeasts which typically provide a sharp acidic or tart flavor. The description makes this beer seem like a tart explosion waiting to happen, but the actual flavor provided very little bang.

In a Nutshell:

An odd juxtaposition of flavors makes the HaandBryggeriet Wild Thing a little more weird than wild.

Review:

The first thing you notice about this beer is the smoke – an uncommon flavor to find in this style. In both aroma and flavor the smokiness tends to overpower the classic tartness that generally characterizes wild ales, making it hard to taste the more acidic flavors bouncing around. The fruit flavors are especially absent; for a beer that advertises its inclusion of cranberries and currants (two very strong, tart berries) you get only the faintest sense that those fruits might in there somewhere behind the smoke-screen.

The main flavor (besides the smokiness) is a grassy sourness that makes the flavor feel a little on the young side. Like many bottle-conditioned ales, the Wild Thing might certainly improve with aging; however, that’s a tricky thing to predict. The bottle I tasted has been stored in my ad hoc beer cellar for about two months, but I’m guessing it could have improved by staying there much longer.

This beer is interesting and drinkable (I drank the whole bottle in no time,)┬ábut it feels so muddled. There are a number of flavors mixing together but never balancing or solidifying into one unified beer. I might certainly try this beer again, but I would only recommend it with the addition of several caveats – one of which would be that it’s not actually very “wild.”

Rating: 2 out of 5.