Product description: Brunetta is a 5% ABV traditional Oud Bruin, or sour brown ale, developed by our brewmaster Phil Leinhart, and the master blenders at our sister brewery, Liefmans, in Oudenaarde, Belgium. Liefmans has been perfecting their blending techniques for more than 300 years, and is renowned for their clean and balanced sour beers. Brewed with a traditional blend of pilsner, amber, and caramel malts and with minimal hopping, Brunetta’s mixed culture fermentation begins in Liefmans’ open copper vats and continues in stainless tanks for four to eight months. This Oud Bruin’s balanced acidity is a perfect accompaniment to rich dishes like duck confit, chicken liver pâté, all manner of mild cheeses, and NY-style cheese cakes and other mildly sweet desserts.
Brewery Ommegang – Ommegang Brunetta – 12 oz. bottle poured into a snifter – 5% abv.
Sampled from a 12oz bottle, Brunetta is clear mahogany in color with ruby highlights when brought up to the light. Large, tan foam erupts and persists for a bit longer than expected for a sour ale. The nose is sharp and acetic-focused with pickled beets, red wine vinegar, and touches of specialty malt creating a red cherry character. It’s an odd sweet and sour mix.
Digging in, the flavor is muted up front with a mild acetic acid type of sourness in the mid-palate with salt, beets, and touches of red cherry and red apple. But the sourness is still mild overall sitting at about a 5 out of 10 with very little in way of lingering acidity. It then finishes dry and tannic as if part of the blend was with a barrel-aged component.
There’s obvious Leifman’s influence on this beer with the dark cherry and red wine vinegar flavors reminiscent of Liefman’s classic Goudenband, but Brunetta tastes watered down to me as if it were simply Goudenband mixed with sparkling water. There’s obvious blending going on here to get that half sour flavor, but the result just isn’t robust. However, Brunetta may work as a nice primer for those new to the sour red/brown style like Duchesse De Bourgogne. Brunetta is drinkable, moderately acidic, and highly carbonated with bright flavors of pickled beets and red cherry. It’s clean in the body with no lasting acetic acid sting and lactic acid finally shows up to take over. Thankfully, there is very little sugar in the body so the sweet and sour play from the aroma doesn’t factor in as much in the flavor.
Stand-alone, Brunetta is a bit odd and hard to enjoy. But paired with fatty and savory foods, this one really shines. From my kitchen experiments, Brunetta was great for cutting through fatty cheeses and worked well as an apéritif. It could be a nice beer to serve to guests with hors d’oeuvres or charcuterie. I just can’t imagine wanting to knock back an entire 12oz of this while watching TV.