I must have a reputation as a Driftwood ass-kisser. Every time they put out a seasonal, I praise it to the heavens and exhort everyone to go out and buy it. I went to a cask night and you could almost smell my excitement. I went to their tasting dinner and fell into a swoon over the vertical tasting of Old Cellar Dweller.
Not this time. It’s time for this sycophantic beer blogger to establish his credibility.
I do not love Son of the Morning.
As a homebrewer, I know how difficult it is to get a style you’ve never brewed before right on the first try. It does happen – occasionally I fluke out and make a delicious beer on the first go – but it doesn’t happen that often, and it’s especially difficult with Belgian styles. You never know where one of those crazy Belgian yeast strains is going to go on you, and fermenting at a slightly different temperature can completely change the character a yeast imparts.
For example, I recently took my first crack at brewing a tripel. I used Wyeast 3787 Trappist High Gravity yeast for the first time and fermented it a little cool. The yeast gave my tripel a huge phenolic nose that smells just like rubber. It’s pretty off-putting, actually, and while the beer tastes pretty good, in my mind the smell is bad enough to ruin it.
I know you don’t really care about my homebrew; this is relevant to Son of the Morning, though. The aroma of Son of the Morning reminds me a lot of the rubbery phenolic reek of my tripel, and I suspect that Driftwood used Wyeast Trappist High Gravity and fermented it a bit cool.
My own brewing missteps make it all the more impressive to me that Driftwood seems to get it right the first time with virtually every seasonal they brew. They often improve a beer the second year they brew it, but it’s usually really impressive on the first try. Well, I guess everyone makes a mistake sometimes.
Son of the Morning – Driftwood – 10% abv – $9.50 at Brewery Creek
It’s hard not to be excited when you pour Son of the Morning. First of all, it’s a brand-new Driftwood. Secondly, it pours a vibrant blonde with slightly orange highlights. It foams up nicely in a tulip glass, although the head does recede quite quickly, probably because of the high alcohol content.
The aroma is of cloves, rubber, coriander and alcohol. If you take a strong whiff, the alcohol and rubber aromas conspire to give you the impression you’re getting chemical burns in your nostrils. The taste is dry, spicy and bitter – not at all unpleasant – but when you swallow and breathe in, those rubbery phenolics come back and remind you of that rubber cement you tried eating in art class when you were a kid – not nearly as good as Elmer’s white glue.
Overall, I find it too dry, too phenolic and maybe even too alcoholic. A bit of malty sweetness might help to balance the alcohol, but instead that rubbery aroma conspires to exacerbate the situation by adding another harsh, chemical aroma.
No, I didn’t love this one. Fortunately, there’ll be another Driftwood seasonal out soon. Is it going to be Spring Rite or Belle Royale?
Am I alone here? Did anyone else not like this beer? Did anyone love it?