A TRANSCENDENT EXPERIENCE A half-dozen Pretty Things.
Dann Paquette, head brewer for the Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, fondly refers to himself as a "gypsy brewer." And while it may or may not be a permanent home, Rhode Island can be thankful that these Pretty Things are showinng up on their doorstep.
When Buzzards Bay Brewing of Westport, Massachusetts, closed up shop last September, Paquette stepped in to fill the void. Formerly contracting with Paper City Brewery in western Massachusetts, Paquette decided to relocate to the larger South Coast brewery.
While Pretty Things may be new to the craft beer scene, Paquette — a veteran brewer, most recently off a stint in England — is not. Impressively, Pretty Things’ lineup already boasts nine beers, ranging from a Pale Lager to a Quadrupel. My favorite though is undoubtedly their flagship beer: the JACK D'OR.
Now I’m on record as a big believer in quality over quantity, and slowing down to appreciate the finer side of beer. That said, in my columns I have rarely had the opportunity to say more than a few passing words on any one beer. But Pretty Things’ gem is one of those beers that demands a closer look. In fact, 700 words may not be enough!
As his first ever-release, Paquette calls the Jack D'or a "Saison Americain." The Saison style, also known as Farmhouse Ale, is of Belgian and French origin. Fruity, yeasty, and spiced, these beers are typically complex, full of flavor, and easy to drink. Of course, given the self-selected style name, we are probably in for a surprise.
Six dollars will buy you a 22-ounce bomber of the Jack D’or — just the right amount of beer for my typical night of drinking. The colorful label features Jack, which according to their website is a “mournful grain of barley . . . the soul of beer, nature’s magician, creating sugar from starch and bringing together the Pretty Things to create the substance we adore: beer.” In Paquette’s artwork, Jack can be found in the woods, preparing for a dip into the mash tun and ostensibly pondering his future as beer. What a beautiful starting point for a brew.
The pour into my oversized wine glass is a magnificent golden with orange tint. It is hazy, yet clear enough that the stream of bubbles rising up steadily from the center of the glass is unmistakable. This same healthy level of carbonation creates a thick, whipped head that fades into wispy snowflake-like lacing on the side of the glass.
As appetizing as the Jack D’or looks in a glass, its bold nose draws you in even further. It has a very fruity aroma, with the hops taking on a citrusy, grassy, and lemony nature. There is a slight spiciness and some funky, musty yeast present, but both are far more restrained than is typical for the style.
The flavor of fruit in the beer is an evolving one; citrus and lemon again lead, with white grapes, pear, and grapefruit also registering. As a result, the taste is alternately bitter, tart, and sweet. The malt profile is more detectable in the flavor, with some pale pilsner malts and wheat bringing sanity and balance to the brew. In the end, the Americana side comes out in a solidly bitter finish that pushes this beer up the spectrum toward a Belgian IPA.