Thursday, August 25, 2011

Reaching Enlightenment through Buddha Nuvo

When you buy a $39 beer - assuming that is an action you ever take in your life - you expect it to be good. Mystical good. Good as in the beer quenches your palate, then the empty bottle washes your car and does your taxes good.

It was with some trepidation, then, that I purchased the first $39 bottle of beer in my life two weeks ago: The 14-brewer collaboration effort known as Buddha Nuvo. It was a treat I had gotten to see these brewers making way back in February. But when I cracked it open for the Fearless Tasting Crew, no one knew what to expect.

The most concise appraisal of this 750 milliliter investment is this: You could buy dozens upon dozens of more economical beers and chances are you'll not taste even one of the booming symphony of flavors that mesh to make this one of the most memorable Colorado beers in years.

Buddha Nuvo's ingredients include spelt, oats, cans upon cans of pumpkin, peppercorns and the rare Asian fruit known as Buddha's Hand. This 12% ABV saison is fermented with Brettanomyces, aged in French Oak Chardonnay barrels and primed with honey.

You're jolted right away by its strongly floral and perfumey nose that precedes a jasmine-tinted flavor greeting your palate. Swirl it around, sip it down and something else emerges - a muscat-like, slightly grape, slightly plum flavor that feels almost granulated in the way that it falls over your taste buds.

The taste is piercing, and in it you can pick out the dance of ingredients that brewers from places like Trinity, Rockyard, Black Fox, Crooked Stave and Strange - among others - tossed into this creation. It lights up your tongue somewhat like a foreign spice and then leaves you with a sharp alcoholic backtaste that is comparable to the fizz of champagne - not a distraction but an addition.

The Beer Geekette may have put it most simply when she said: "It tastes like a tropical forest." But even such forests can get heavy at times. Buddha Nuvo, on the other hand, is a wholly pleasant, if challenging experience. And it is a thoroughly modern and thoughtful beer that combines a lot of daring ideas with ingredients that, surprisingly, conform within one bottle.

So, go ahead and splurge at participating breweries, beer bars and liquor stores. This one's worth it.

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