Sal Mortillaro II's picture

Judge's Review: 93 Rating - Barrel Aged Helios by Pontoon Brewing

June, 2019
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
6 / 6
37 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
19 / 20

Barrel Aged Helios by Pontoon Brewing is being evaluated as a Wild Specialty Beer (Category 28C) according to the 2015 BJCP Guidelines.

This beer pours a dark gold color with hazy clarity.  A bone white head consisting of micro-bubbles is short left but leaves a ring around the glass. As the beer is drank, a nice lacing persists in the glass. The aroma consists of a lovely moderate-low intensity mixture of funky complexity consisting of Brettanomyces type leather, wet hay, and barnyard character. There is a very faint vinous white wine-like quality in the aroma, however this is fleeting and does not persist. There is low general malt sweetness but nothing further than this general malt character.  No hops are detected in this beer.  Overall this beer has a very typical aroma profile of a typical, traditional beer of the French-Wallonia region.  In the flavor, the general malt sweetness noted in the aroma is low intensity and quickly gives way to the moderate-low funk noted in the aroma. There is a very short-lived vinous white-wine quality in the flavor though it is fleeting and provides a layer of complexity in this beer. This beer is a lovely showcase of the previous usage of the barrel and great execution of its current usage of the barrel. A low tannic quality from the barrel usage helps provide a bitterness to ground this beer out and provides balance with the malt sweetness which seems to lightly linger after the sip. This beer finishes off-dry with wet hay, leather, and funk persist in the aftertaste. In the mouth, this beer is extremely CO2 saturated; though not prickly carbonation with a carbonic bite, as soon as the beer hits the drinkers mouth the CO2 releases causing a very fluffy texture in the mouth. There is no warmth, creaminess, or astringency in this beer.  Overall, this is a very well-done Farmhouse Ale which has lovely yeast complexity aided by the use of the Syrrah barrel. Though a slight residual sweetness lingers in a typically dry style, this is a minor thing that is easy to overlook with respect to the other qualities of this beer. I would love to pair this beer with a nice funky cheese such as Taleggio where the funk and sweetness can both combat and compliment the pairing.