I’ve had some pretty awful experiences with bees in my life. Mowing the lawn, ran into a light post by accident, bees shot out and chased me. Went swimming, was getting exhausted, went to the side of an above ground pool to grab it, bee stung me right on my eyebrow. Playing flag football as a camp counselor, threw off my sandals, stepped on a bee – stung the bottom of my foot, had to work a 6 hour shift on my feet at the Apple Store. Bees = no bueno. Naturally, I’m skeptical of Casey East Bank, an oak aged sour farmhouse brewed with honey. God damn bees again… I’m putting on an old Halloween mask to pop this cork for protection… I know their game now. Time to find out if this beer is sweet like honey or stings to high hell. Let’s run them numbers…
Appearance: Nearly identical to the pour of Casey’s Saison – transparent gold at first followed by a hazy second pour and a frothier head. There was lacing this time around but the head retention was still rather poor.
Smell: Brett funk, orange oil, lime, lemon, freshly picked flowers, suntan lotion, and very mild sweet grain likely attributed from the honey. It’s nice to see the adjunct isn’t overwhelming the brew at all here but faintly makes its way into the aroma at the very end.
Taste: Tart initially with the brettanomyces coming through on the first sip. A bit of an odd funk accompanies the brett in the form some lotion taste (c’mon, we all accidently got some sunsreen in our mouth at one point in our lives). It’s a bit off putting, but doesn’t ruin the beer. Some orange rind makes its way into the flavor with some fresh lime and lemon juice backing it up. This is more noticeably brett forward than their Saison, but some of their characteristics are held in common. The bright citrus is found in both East Bank and Casey’s Saison and they both have a sharp tartness to them that still allows other flavors to appear, notably mineraly earthiness. The water Casey must have in Glenwood Springs is likely flawless – I can really pick up on that in both brews I’ve had from Casey which also speaks to how light and delicate this beer to allow such an afterthought of a flavor seep into the palate.
The yeast used in East Bank also comes out on the second and third pour once the tartness subsides and is very typical of any farmhouse. The body is light to medium in its mouthfeel and the carbonation is fine for the style. Unlike Casey’s flagship, East Bank dials up the ABV to 6.5%, which in addition to the honey, adds the “to medium” clause for its body.
Overall: East Bank was good, but not as good as the Saison. I’ll give it a B+/A- with points off for the weird lotion taste I got from it initially. I must admit that it did fall off as I drank, but it wasn’t a great introduction to the brew. I also finished this beer unscathed by bee stings, overall, a success.