Brew Blog: Green Flash Brewing Co. Rayon Vert Belgian-Style Pale Ale

I tried to saber this beer. It didn't work out. I'd brought a few bottles to a friend's house for New Year's, one of a few shared selections. That night, one of the guests gave me my first live sabering demonstration, and I became somewhat obsessed.

Declaring 2012 The Year of the Saber, I began sabering everything in sight. If it had a cork and a cage, it was fair game. My wife has a soft spot for bubbles, so I had ample opportunity. Moving on from Champagne, Prosecco, and Cava, I had some success with a bottle of Sam Adams Infinium. Bolstered, I went at a bottle of Rayon Vert, figuring that perhaps its bottle conditioning would lend it enough pressure for successful sabering. It didn't.

I almost wish I had a tale of epic failure, with exploding bottles and scarring. It was actually a lot less dramatic, and therefore somehow more embarrassing. An explosion would at least have been cool; as it was, it just looked like I was pointlessly whacking at a bottle with a knife. The upside, of course, was that I didn't send the beer flying all over the backyard, and got to drink it, instead.

When I came across Rayon Vert again recently, I didn't bother trying to saber it. Poured calmly into a pint glass, Rayon Vert shows a hazy burnished copper. A thick, foamy, two-inch head blooms forth, even without full pour. It actually took three turns of pouring and settling to get the whole beer in the glass, and there was still a good inch of head after 15 minutes sitting there, as my attention was diverted to help with dinner.

The nose is citrus and spice, with Brettanomyces that comes on as slightly medicinal, and more than a bit plasticine. A little bit of white pepper and a fairly clear and robust hops aroma. A whiff of that barnyardy funk, not overpowering, but definitely there. Stone fruit? Somehow, the hops, esters and Brett combine as slightly peachy.

Citrusy hops and spicy yeast do battle up front, winding around each other like a boozy barber pole. The Brett funks its way up through, coming out through your nose. That peachy hint is back, with just a bit of tartness. It's actually surprisingly fruity, behind the citrus and spice but in front of the Brett, with some bready notes, too. Nice dry finish with a closing bitterness, a slightly rounded malt profile, and a bit of brightly spiced yeast.

Rayon Vert is very easy to drink, on the whole, though the Brett might take those unaccustomed by surprise. Still, it's a gentle flash, not a bash over the head. After the beer sits for a bit and warms slightly, the Brett blows off, relegated more and more to a slight swallow-following breath. The bright, fruity citrus and spice are breezy and approachable, the slight breadiness provides that sort of instant malt gratification, and the Brett is there for a nice bit of complexity.

I love beers like this, where refreshment and flavor go hand in hand. I've enjoyed this one at the end of a long day at work, when all I want to do is settle on the couch for a few moments of doing nothing, and a less immediately approachable beer would be too taxing. I've also sat with this one for an hour or so, chasing out its nuance. Whichever path you take, I advise you choose the traditional path when it comes to opening it.



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