Friday, August 19, 2011

Rockyard Buddha Nuvo review

Rockyard Buddha NuvoIf you were told you'd be buying a $40 bottle of beer - would you flinch? I did. It's not often that a brewery puts out a collaboration beer that adds a huge mix of exotic ingredients into a pumpkin saison and charges a premium price for it. Rockyard Brewing of Castle Rock worked with 13 other brewers from 13 Colorado breweries to come up with a rare brew called Rockyard Buddha Nuvo.

My goal for reviewing this beer was to get past my prior experiences with other Saisons and Pumpkin beers. I haven't sampled enough of those to have made them a favorite yet. I was coming in with an open mind and a slight thirst. Would this beer live up to the extra cost and hype?

Rockyard's Buddha Nuvo was measured at 12% ABV and came in a large 25oz waxed bottle. The ingredients list included: malts, Buddha's Hand (a fingered citron), spelt (wheat), oats, peppercorn melange, Saison yeast, brettanomyces and aged in French Oak Chardonnay barrels with zest of Buddha's Hand. It was primed with local Colorado honey and was bottle conditioned. Quite the extraordinary mix.

I chose to sample this the Buddha Nuvo after chilling the brew for an hour in the fridge. Not too cold to mask the flavor, yet decently below room temperature.

Appearance: Buddha Nuvo opened with a loud hiss and poured out slightly hazy and looked like a sparkling apple juice with a hint of orange color. There were many bubbles coming out of the brew and a tiny white head that disappeared immediately. Even with a clean glass and an aggressive pour I couldn't get a head to stick.

Aroma: This little Buddha had the air of pumpkins, of sweet spice, an exotic fruit, with a touch of sour funk (brett), and even a tang that made my nose twitch. This was unlike any beer I've ever smelled before in my life. Extra points for uniqueness.

Mouthfeel: This brew was medium-bodied, well carbonated with a little fizz on the tongue, slightly puckering from the brett and felt like it coated my tongue in a liquid velvet smoothness.

Buddha Nuvo LabelTaste: Buddha Nuvo is very hard to describe as there are so many different tastes here. Let me try to separate these tastes out. This Saison had a light pumpkin and fruit punch body up front with sour tangy flavor and a warm spice right after. It wasn't hoppy, rather the mild bitterness and spice came from the peppercorn melange.

According to the McCormick spice company: "Peppercorn Melange is a colorful blend of peppers: the black, white and green peppercorns have hot, pungent taste, while the pink peppercorns, add a mild, sweet bite to this unique blend."

I can definitely pick out the hot and pungent peppers in this brew. It mixes well with the fruity Buddha's hand, the honey and the sweet pink peppercorns. It's a combo that seems to work very well together.

The Brett seemed subdued enough to give this brew just a hint of sourness. I'm curious how this beer might develop as a sour beer if they had added even more brett. The French oak added just enough character to be detectible. Sometimes an oaked beer can give off too much of the wood, but this seemed just the right amount to add a distinction.

Overall: For a pumpkin saison, I must say I was pleasantly surprised. This beer was not meant for mainstream consumption but rather as a celebration of what good beer could be. It tasted like a special treat, something to be savored.

This beer has changed my mind to what a Saison or Pumpkin beer can be. I don't normally enjoy those styles as much as others, but this example may have changed my mind. Nicely done Colorado brewers. I'm now a saison man.

I was able to fully sample this beer with just a half a glass. I look forward to attempting to finish the rest of this. It's a shame I didn't have someone to share this bottle with. A strong 12% big bottle like this is enough to satisfy 3 imbibers.

So was this worth the $35.99 ($5 off at Boulder Wine & Spirits) plus half a tank of gas to find? Let's just say anything as unique as this should be experienced at least once in your life. I'm a better beer drinker for it.

Rockyard American Grill and Brewing Company

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Update 9/13/2011: Check out the 15 Colorado Beer Blogger Collaboration Review of this beer!

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- Avery Sixteen Anniversary Ale review.
- Ranger IPA and Dark Heather Saison from New Belgium.
- Chimay Grande Reserve review.

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