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Review: Enlightenment Ales Brut

If you're looking to break out of the New Year's Eve champagne rut and try something different, something local, and something beer this year, I've got a tip for you.

Enlightenment Ales is a nano brewery (translation: wicked small) out of Lowell making a time-intensive style of beer that very few breweries produce. Brewer Ben Howe's American bière de champagne could very well replace your NYE bubbly Monday night.

biere.jpgEnlightenment Ales Brut is a dry, refreshing, complex brew weighing in at 11 percent ABV. It's brewed using many of the same techniques used to make champagne. Howe puts the beer through an extended warm fermentation using multiple yeast strains followed by traditional bottle re-fermentation. The laborious process includes riddling (turning the bottles) and disgorging (removing yeast from the bottle) by hand.

I had a heck of a time with the cork (assess the situation beforehand if you plan to pop this at midnight), but once popped off, the beer pours a pale yellow with tons of fluffy head. Tiny bubbles swirl in the glass like powder in a snow globe. When the head rises above the restrictions of the flute, there's plenty of structure to keep it from toppling over.

The aroma is dominated by both grapes and bananas. The combination wine/beer smell carries over to the first sip. I get sweet champagne and yeasty, earthy banana. The mouthfeel is medium-bodied and beer-like; take a sip absentmindedly and get into a conversation and you'll swear you're drinking a wine.

This beer could easily replace your midnight champagne. In fact, it should. At almost $20 a bottle Enlightenment Brut is meant to be brought out on special occasions. The local craftsmanship and overall quality will easily match a similarly-priced bottle of traditional brut.

I found a bottle at Social Wines in South Boston. Here's a list of other places you can get it. No matter which cup of kindness you decide upon, have a Happy New Year.

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