Aeolian | Counter Weight Brewing
Ah the winds of change. While provided a memorable example of a wine/beer hybrid long ago (Funk Factory’s Cervino), everything else I have had hasn’t lived up to that beer. In fact nothing has even come close. It seemed like most beers that added grapes (or the dreaded grape must) drank heavier and boozier than they should with few redeeming beer-like qualities. Basically the grapes took over. Duneyrr started the change with their delicious Sauvyn Blanc, melding the intricacies of the grapes with the fruit additions and yielding a flavorful and above all drinkable and refreshing beer. Riding that high, we decided to do an entire grape show which could have been fraught with many problems. We had Grape Expectations and it delivered, assuaging any grape fears I might have. I think I’ll keep riding that high with Counter Weight Brewing’s Aeolian.
Counter Weight hails from Hamden, Connecticut. That original location is currently closed while the brewery moves to their new location in Cheshire, CT (about 20 minutes north of Hamden). My only experience with Counter Weight was on our CT Show. Their entry was an IPA which was decent enough so it’s nice to try something hopefully a little more complex and interesting. Aeolian means “arising from the action of wind,” and comes from Aeolus, the Greek god of wind. Aeolian blends a two year old spontaneous beer with an 18 month mixed culture beer equally. The resulting blend then went into Romanian oak while being aged on Cabernet and Syrah grapes.
Much like on our Grape Expectations show, let’s talk grapes. (All grape info courtesy of the excellent wine-searcher.com).Syrah is a red grape that produces a full-bodied wine with strong flavors and originates from the Rhone Valley in eastern France. Syrah is currently the flagship grape varietal in Australia. Flavors and aromas can range from white and black pepper to black currants and licorice to leather. It’s also a great blending grape so Counter Weight went with Cabernet. (I can’t find any info on the specific Cabernet grape varietal they used, so I’ll skip talking about it.)
Aeolian pours a dark or dingy rose color. There’s a combination of pink, red and a very light purple coming through on it. About a half finger of head forms with big, soapy bubbles that linger for a spell, but then disappear. In a few minutes the head vanishes and you’re left with none at all. Some light does creep through from the other side, but I really can’t see my finger on the other side.
Grape and plum immediately hit you first on Aeolian. There’s so much of the grape/plum note that it veers right into jammy. While some might get oak, my nose pulled more tree-like wood on the aroma. I actually took one giant sniff and got a fair amount of smoke that I did not expect to get. A very light amount of funk creeps its way in, with some moldy cheese or general locker room aroma showing up. Some of that nail polish remover aroma show up as well but not at all much, leading me to believe that this one will venture into the sour lands…
…so of course it doesn’t. Aeolian isn’t sour in the least. It’s actually more jammy than anything else. Don’t know if I’ve ever had a jammy grape beer (I know I’ve had jammy raspberry and blackberry beers before). I’m also surprised that it barely hit tart on my palate. While not refreshing, it does finish dry thanks to all the grapes. Much like on the nose a light amount of moldy cheese funk arrives, but immediately gets kicked out by the jammies. In addition to the obvious grape, plums kept coming to mind.
The medium mouthfeel is perfect for Aeolian. It gently coats the tongue, leaving some grape/plum notes and a wisp of tartness behind. Then it gets out of the way, not allowing any of the tartness to impede future sips. While I definitely wouldn’t say it’s a chugger or a sipper, Aeolian might just be a … drinker? Is that the mid-point?
Having just had five grape beers, I’m in a unique spot here to rank it against what we just had. The Hopewell Taxon Cycle definitely comes with more sourness while the Keeping Together Creatures of Infinite Contradiction really nailed the grapes and was the wine-iest beer of the bunch. Depending on your tolerance for sour things, I’d rank this one around those two beers. (The Supermoon Gloe had a bit more funk and combined the mouthfeel, grapes, and refreshing qualities much better in my opinion.)
Aeolian has made me put my grapes-in-beer aversion to rest. I’m not afraid anymore! (Which means the next beer with grapes in it will be a disaster.) I thoroughly enjoyed the 375mL bottle I had. Thankfully it drinks like a 6.1% ABV beer and not something closer to 10% ABV. The aroma was varied and unique, but on the palate some of those complexities weren’t present. The jamminess won the day, though I wish there was a little funk, oak or something else interesting hitting me while drinking it. If you can get your hands on it do so, but don’t really go out of your way.