Iconoclast Aurora | Mayfield Brewing Company

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Brewed by:
Mayfield Brewing Company
California, United States

Style: Altbier

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 4.90%

Availability: Limited (brewed once)

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by bryanbrick on 10-15-2009

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 3 |  Reviews: 3
Reviews by bryanbrick:
Photo of bryanbrick
4.22/5  rDev +19.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4

I had the pleasure of tasting these beers with John P. Alderete the brewmaster and owner of Mayfield Brewing Co. early on a Thursday morning. God I have a great job! Anyhow John seemed like a very intelligent guy; he is a microbiologist by trade, who has created an über-craft, quality above all else kind of brewery. 2009 was the first Mayfield released the beers to retail and they only made 600 cases total of the 3 beers for 2009. They hope to top out at 2000 cases annually. Mayfield uses mostly barrels from Ridge Vineyards, all American oak, both wet and dry and all beers spend at least 10 months in barrel undergoing secondary fermentation in barrel. All the beers are unfiltered, capped and corked and have some of the classiest packaging in the business.

The Iconoclast Aurora is a "Wine Barrel-Aged Altbier" chiming in at 4.9% ABV. It pours an amber, tiger-eye colored beer with a smattering of white foam that quickly disappears after pouring. The head never properly sets on this beer going for more of a cloudy film like approach.

The nose is super interesting; first and foremost one is likely to see the barrels with tones of caramel, treacle, vanilla bean and an ever so slight charred quality. But quickly the oak subsides and pleasing stone fruit qualities of dried apricot and peach are layered over spicy notes of clove and a sweeter plantain note.

The flavors here are superb, and while I'm not the most familiar with the Altbier style (the exact reason John made this wine, because it is so oft overlooked by beer fans and makers alike) this seems to be an interesting modern interpretation of the style. The flavors here are somewhat yeasty with a sort of toasty richness that hits on the finish. You can easily see this lied dormant in oak for the time it did picking up pitch from the used barrels. Oh and by the way there is not a trace of sourness in site,

Round on entry with broad creamy strokes, mild hop spice with a medium weight nature. The carbonation is mousse-like and the flavors are completely seamless. The Aurora builds dimension as it goes.

The only elephant in the room about this beer, and all the beers in the series are the prices. At approximately $40 retail they are a bit to dish out for. I guess if you really wanted to get something for the beer drinker that had everything this would be it, birthday present to self possibly? Other that that this is a wildly delicious bottle that would easily go down my gullet.

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More User Reviews:
Photo of nickd717
3.63/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On tap at Rose & Crown on Mayfield Brewing night. Large pour for $7, which as I stated in my other Mayfield reviews is a HUGE discount compared to the astronomical price of bottles of this beer.

Pours a mostly clear amber color with a small white head and some good lacing.

Aroma is caramel malt, apple, wood, and light fruits. A bit of white wine detectable. The description says it was aged in red wine barrels, but I have a hard time believing that. Some floral notes as well. The smell of this is interesting, but whether it smells "good" is another story. For me the jury's still out on that one.

Flavor is very woody and mildly vinous, a little oxidized. This beer may have been a little too light to hold up to -bal aging like this, and it seems almost a bit stale because of it. Still it's not at all bad. I got caramel malt, apple juice, pear, vanilla, spices, and very subtle floral hops. This beer is close to being great, but a few flaws/missing elements stop it from totally getting there.

Medium-light body, average carbonation. Fairly dry on the palate.

Drinkable if nothing else. WAY too expensive at $43/bottle. I'm not sure where that price point came from, but it's completely absurd. I wouldn't recommend shelling out that much for it, but if you can ever get it for a reasonable price on tap (which I don't think happens very often), it's worth a try.

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Photo of Arbitrator
2.7/5  rDev -23.3%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 1

I had the pleasure of trying this at a sponsored beer tasting where John Alderete, brewmaster of Mayfield Brewing, brought his beers to share.

John readily admits, up front, that he isn't targeting beer snobs, and that's reflected in the choice of base beers, his packaging, his barrels, and even the selling venues. These aren't found in traditional bottle shops, and I don't think he even cares to target them. Still, he brought them to a beer tasting, so I'll bring my inner beer nerd to the table and evaluate them.

Chilled 2008 vintage bottle into a glass.

A: This pours an orange-tinted amber body, crystal clear. Carbonation is light (and intentionally so, as he reminded us), so the head is short-lived and it quickly settles onto the top of the brew like a scattered film.

S: I'm kind of surprised that John didn't pay more attention to the temperature when serving this. When cold, it exuded light chardonnay grapes and tannins, smelling for all the world like "carbonated wood juice," to steal a phrase from largadeer. As it warmed, it became more caramelly, toasty, and had a light floral character to complement the wood. I didn't get any of the subtleties that Bryan (reviewer below) did, though.

T: Again, a very delicate melange that needed to be brought to the right temperature to pick out. Soft touches of caramel, toast, a hint of yeast and vanilla. But the tannins and chardonnay are dominant, and tend to trample on the rest of the flavor. For such a delicate base beer, it seems more attention needs to be paid to blending (these are 100% barrel aged) to bring out the soft touches.

M: Light-bodied, with low carbonation that makes it nearly velvety on the tongue. No trace of alcohol. A soft finish; I expected it to be more tannic and astringent.

D: A pretty solid beer that makes me interested in trying some real altbiers; it's not a style I'm very familiar with. However, I absolutely will not purchase this one; it is $47 out the door, and for a beer that doesn't quite deliver the heft or blend I'm looking for, I don't plan to get it.

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Iconoclast Aurora from Mayfield Brewing Company
3.52 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.
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