For this installment of Tasting Notes, we kick off the week by inviting Lord Grey from Three Taverns Craft Brewery (Decatur, Georgia) to join us for a spot of tea-infused beer.
Released back in February as a new Seasonal addition to Three Taverns’ Sour Asylum Series, Lord Grey was actually conceptualized with the help of folks at The Porter Beer Bar who “suggested the addition of tea leaves in a sour beer.” That idea stuck with the brewers at Three Taverns and they eventually developed a recipe for a “refreshingly balanced 5% sour ale with Earl Grey tea.” All those who sit down with a pour of Lord Grey will be treated to a “crisp and mildly tart” experience where “herbal flavors abound up front with a subtle bergamot orange in the background.”
If you would like to track this offering down, Lord Grey is currently listed on the draft menu at The Parlour at Three Taverns Craft Brewery. You can also find this Seasonal brew available in 6-packs of 12 oz. cans and on draft at select craft beer establishments located in Georgia.
Now that the formalities are out of the way, it does appear that it is time for tea and Tasting Notes. Let’s get to it!
Tasting Notes for Lord Grey from Three Taverns Craft Brewery
Appearance: Lord Grey presents itself as a pale yellow-colored brew that has a slightly darker, apricot-like hue resting near its core. When held to direct light, the overall color softens to the palest of yellows that has the look of lemon juice at it edges. The beer has a good amount of cloudiness to it, but a vibrant carbonation level can still be seen bouncing about within. The pour produced half a finger of wispy, white foam, but it dissipates immediately and leaves no trace of lace.
Aroma: The aromatics softly open with the floral and citrusy notes of bergamot held against a strong backbone of black tea. The lacto-fermentation then works its way in to round things out with a note that is similar to lightly-sweetened lemonade. This aroma may be straight-forward, but its pronounced yet comforting nature easily lures you in for a sip.
Taste: Delicate and reserved, the flavor profile opens with a dead-on Earl Grey tea character that is laced with a touch of herbaceousness and soothingly floral lavender. The bergamot has presence, adding a good amount of orange zest and floral tones to the black tea. This transitions nicely into the lemony qualities of the base Sour Ale to create a combination that comes across as the most pleasant and refined Arnold Palmer – the delightful union of iced tea and lemonade – that you have ever had.
Mouthfeel: Light in body with a medium carbonation level, Lord Grey dries out nicely and is crisply refreshing. It is lightly tart on the palate, but only enough to read as a burst of citrusy brightness. The ABV is reserved for the most part, but it does supply a gentle warmth in the throat as the experience goes on. The aftertaste is just a bit of that previously mentioned Arnold Palmer-like quality.
Final Thoughts: Just as one might hope from a tea-themed beer, everything about Lord Grey has a certain level of grace to it. Despite having flavor and aromatic notes that run the risk of becoming overwhelming on their own, each aspect of this beer – whether it be the black tea, bergamot, lavender or the Sour Ale used as the base – finds its place and joins all the other notes to create an approachable unified whole. Sure, it is sophisticated and elegant, but it still has that Arnold Palmer-ish familiarity that nearly everyone can relate to. This results in a cold tea experience that still somehow retains the pleasant and inviting comfortable warmth you get from a cup of Earl Grey. Lord Grey is afternoon tea meets after-work beer, and that combo gets a big ol’ thumbs up from us. Prost!