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“Brett is one of those fun yeasts where you can do the same thing and it can come out differently each time.”

Crusty Barnacle Makes Its Return This Week!

Crusty Barnacle has been a staple for the last several years, and it’s a favorite of many of our Brew Crew members and regulars.

Guest Guru Mary Braccili is a fan, and Operations Manager at Cape Beverage Craig Tropp also enjoys the funk of this brew. 

The brew has grown substantially from its humble roots as a Tasting Room team brew, and we’ve covered it at length on the blog before.

This year, we caught up again with Mark Graves. When we spoke with him in 2018 about this brew, Mark was a brewer, and he’s since worked his way up to become our Packaging Manager! 

He spoke with us about why this brew is so special, and what it offers that’s distinctly different from many of our usual brews. 

“I enjoy the hell out of it,” Mark says. “It’s a Brett Pale Ale. Brettanomyces, wild yeast, gives some fun flavors as opposed to normal yeast.”

With this brew, there are notes of pineapple and sometimes it can get a little tart, as well.

“It really amplifies some of the dry hops that are added to it and brings out a lot more fruity flavors,” he says.  “It’s a nice pale ale, real dry. Depending on when you drink it, it can change.”

Like a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger, this big little brew transforms over time, and Mark enjoys sampling it throughout its run here in the Tasting Room. 

“It does evolve over time,” he says.

“I would go over every couple of weeks and try it. Brett itself can absorb oxygen, and it ages differently than normal yeast.”

Mark notes that these brews “age a bit more gracefully than a regular pale ale. Hops typically just die off. Normally, oxygen will get into beer and slowly degrade it over time. But Brett can absorb oxygen, which results in different flavors.” 

Normally, a brew changing flavor would be a significant cause for concern, but for Crusty Barnacle, these slight variations are a welcome treat. 

“A lot of our brews have to be consistent, so something like Cape May White is the same every time you drink it,” he says. “Brett is one of those fun yeasts where you can do the same thing and it can come out differently each time.”

It seems pretty crazy, but it all comes down to that wild yeast, which can even subtly change the flavor of the brew even when you sample from the same batch. Mark tells us this depends on the fermentation, storage, and conditions throughout the brewing process.

If you’re worried that your beloved Crusty will become unrecognizable, don’t fret. 

“It’s not crazy to the point of being concerned when you try it multiple times, but it’s a fun tasting experience, at least in my opinion,” Mark shares.

In a traditional pale ale, the flavor comes from the hops and a bit of the grain bill. This brew is certainly more complex than people may realize.

“Brett is that next level that adds something different to it,” he says. “Depending on who is drinking it, you can get different smells and tastes from it as well.”

Crusty Barnacle also gets a dash of the dry-hopping treatment as well, to let it mingle with some of the hops.

“I always enjoy whenever we make a Brett Pale Ale,” Mark shares. “It’s one of those that’s nice cold, but if it sits in your glass and is warmed up a bit, depending on the yeast, you can get anything from light hay and graininess to a light funk, like a bit of a light brine or salinity characteristics.” 

As far as pairings go for this brew, Mark recommends cheese. “Something with a bit of funk, like blue cheese, or a bold cheese that features a prominent rind character. Even a hearty steak, because it can hold up to that.”

But you don’t have to go heavy on the meat and cheese to enjoy this brew. It’s versatile, and pairs well with a nice, light spring salad, as well. 

“This typically finishes very dry, so it helps cleanse the palate for the next taste,” he says.

For this brew, we had the opportunity to work with yeast purveyor East Coast Yeast, right here in New Jersey. “We’ve used them before for several of our projects,” Mark says. “They’re a really good yeast lab, and it’s nice to keep it local.”

In fact, we used some of their yeast for our aged products, including some sour bottles we happened to be under our seat when we spoke with Mark in the production office this week. Those bottles are brews that may make an appearance sometime in the future. 

Crusty Barnacle is certainly an experience, and for those who have never had it, we can’t wait to introduce you! 

This brew will be available starting today, Friday June 11th, in our Tasting Room, and this 6.4% ABV Brett-fermented Pale Ale will only be available on draft. Some of our draft will be going out for distribution throughout New Jersey, so if you’re lucky, you might spot Crusty out at your local watering hole later this month. 

Make sure to stop by and have a pint more than once to see if you can spot the fun flavor changes this brew offers!