In the funky world of sours, wild ales, and farmhouse ales, you never quite know what you'll get once Brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and all their microscopic friends finish their wort buffet. Brewer and drinker alike could theoretically expect a different sensory experience from every bottle, perhaps even every sip. So it's only natural to re-revisit a brewery like Queens-based Transmitter, whose specialized, artisanal dedication to saisons brings out a broader spectrum of flavor from this single style than many breweries offer in their entire catalog.
Transmitter's Community Supported Brewery Program again supplied us with the trio of bottles that grace our table today. In doing so, brewmaster duo Anthony Accardi and Rob Kolb continue their dedication to local outreach and to the growth of the NYC craft beer community.
53 IBU | 5.6% ABV
Farmhouse fanboys they may be, but that doesn't mean Transmitter can't also command other styles with the same levels of care and nuance. Case and point: their G2 Golden Ale. Billed as "A traditional Trappist style golden ale," G2 is brewed with caramelly pilsen malts and thickening oats, Galaxy and Azacca hops, and conditioned with brettanomyces. Interestingly, not a soul at our tasting table had heard of Azacca hops before.
G2 Golden Ale pours a hazy, radiant gold (surprise!), with a fluffy eggshell head, looking every bit like the archetypal, "model" beer of television commercials. The bouquet was just as beautiful, as if one were leaving over a fruit basket full of orange, pineapple, and honeydew. On the palate, G2 strikes us almost as another saison, with an overarching air of bitter melon pith, honeysuckle and white pepper. A vegetal bell-peppery sweetness underscores the fruit, and the flavor concludes refreshingly dry and bitter, chased by faint brett funk. Crisp and impressively varied, G2 should only increase in complexity with age.
56 IBU | 6.4% ABV
While Brett stayed mostly on the sidelines in G2, F0 brings it into the spotlight, making F0 one of most unique beers to be featured in a 2 O'Clock Tasting in quite a while. The farmhouse ale's glass presence is an incredibly cloudy mustard gold, with columnal, billowy head of white suds that took several moments to settle. Caramel, butterscotch, and a lactic sharpness greeted the nose, along with hint of buttermilk and cream.
It was these final two notes of aroma that ended up dominating the flavor. After a few gustatory double-takes, we agreed on an unexpected but unmistakable dairy presence, like that of a well-aged cheese or yogurt. Sweet apricot, horseblanket, and a floral dryness join to round it all out. Funky, savory, creamy, and otherwise restrained, this fascinating beer is wonderfully drinkable with all its foibles.
33 IBU | 6% ABV
Rice can get a bad rap in the beer world as a corner-cutting adjunct, but such dismissal ignores its very real utility. The grain's mildness can allow the hops of particularly "busy" beers to shine instead of being drowned out. The crisp, delicate flavor of rice can also impart a winey characteristic to beer in sufficiently high concentrations.
Transmitter's rice expedition begins a dusty field-of-wheat gold, that—were it not for the thick sudsy head—could masquerade as lemonade if it really wanted to. The smell echoes this sentiment, as notes of lemon meringue, along with a sour funk, kiwi, and melon essences announce themselves. S8 tastes positively juicy, with very little dryness at any one moment. A cool melon, pear, a sweet gourd form a succulent trio of flavor enhanced by a satiny body. Clean, tart, and summery, S8 is just as fit to be sipped on a lawn or in prestigious tasting.
24 IBU | 5.2% ABV
If the bottle the S7 is housed in isn't pretty enough then the wonderfully enticing aromas of this Brett Saison will do the trick. The seventh edition of the farmhouse ale master's saison proves that age is just a number. Crafting not only a visually stunning beer but also one that tastes as cool as its name.
One begins this whirlwind meeting of the truly unique beer in a love at first sight kind of way. This saison is quite lovely to look at. Its perfectly golden body and off-white, eggshell head are a splendid intro to its unmatched aromas. Notes of lemon pepper hit you initially followed quickly by wafts of citrus that remind you of newly cracked fruit. Finally, after (too) much anticipation the taste doesn't disappoint. It has the perfect sour taste and just the right amount of funk without being too overpowering. With the addition of subtle notes of lemon this beer is the perfect fusion of funk and fantastic.
15 IBU | 7.3% ABV
Biere de Garde literally translates as biere de garde. Who said learn languages was hard? What is not as easy to come by as my savant level aptitude for languages is Transmitter's BDG. This farmhouse ale is fermented in oak red wine barrels giving it an unprecedented taste. A true labor of love that has produced not only an amazing beer, but a wonderfully unique take on the age old brewing process.
Upon first sight you are hit with a multitude of intertwining colors. Chestnut with glimpses of light reds and oranges. The appearance of this beer matches that of the beautiful fall foliage of Transmitter's home state. As you spend more time with this concoction wafts of hazelnut hit you. That paired with notes of cinnamon make it hard to take the time to appreciate the beer before devouring it. The BDG has a wonderful union of complementary tastes. From funky to tart; matched with the perfect hint of cinnamon this beer has everything you never knew you wanted until that very moment. With the BDG Transmitter has crafted a decadent beer that we never want to stop drinking.