Archive for the 'Sour Ale' category
Frankly, I wasn’t even planning to review this li’l gem. I found it at Parker & Otis after lunch a few days ago and figured it would be a nice treat whilst I traveled in the following week. However, after tasting this tonight, I want to make sure that I remember it. So, here we find ourselves writing it up…
This ale, Eric’s Ale, is part of the Lips of Faith series from New Belgium, which generally offers a brew with a more experimental bent. In this case, it’s a wood-aged sour ale with a peach infusion. Apparently Eric calls it “A sour ale for those who don’t like sour ales, and a fruit ale for those who don’t like fruit ales”. Well, I’m not entirely sure I agree with that statement, as this seems to lean more on the sour side. However, I tend to like both sour ales and fruit ales…. and I absolutely love this particular ale.
Eric’s ale pours a crystal clear golden with just a light hint of ruby coloration. The head is stark white and rears up fiercely on the pour but, frankly, doesn’t stick around very long. The aroma of this is straight-up sour ale, offering an aroma akin to a beer made with Brettanomyces yeast (which this may or may not utilize), or a saison ale on steroids. In the mouth, sourness takes the front seat. This has characteristics of both a saison ale and a flemish-style sour ale. It burns the tip of the tongue, and the sourness makes you pucker up through the mouth. However, there is a mellowness to the backbone that is unusual and makes it a bit more palatable. The peach flavor they mention doesn’t really jump to the forefront here. Honestly, I don’t think I would believe peach was involved if the label didn’t tell me. Nevertheless, if you really dig deep, you can sense some light sweetness and a softening factor that the peach seems to contribute. There is some grain here, as well. Again, it takes a back seat to the sour notes, but the aging, coupled with some grassy grain flavors, gives this an earthy note that is also unusual to they style.
Honestly, this is likely my favorite beer of the summer season so far. It has a tricky combination of flavors that makes it both refreshing and complex, all while starkly differentiating itself from other beers on the shelf. Sadly, this won’t likely make it to regular release from New Belgium. Also sadly, it’s pretty expensive. Nevertheless, I’m liable to pick up a couple of bottles to keep around for special occasions. I wouldn’t let it sit around too long, though – this style of brew doesn’t exactly benefit from heavy aging. Sounds like a good excuse to drink up!
Every now and again it’s fun to grab a real nail-biter of a beer – something quite off the wall that snaps the tastebuds into action. For me, a sour ale fits this bill very well. Whether it’s a sour ale or a lambic, these beers do things on the tongue that no other beer, no matter how extreme, can seem to do. This particular beer is a sour red ale made in, of all places, Italy. Frankly, I’m not accustomed to finding great beers in Italy, so I’m rather interested to taste this. Furthermore, this is aged for 3 months in Cognac barrels, which is bound to impart some interesting flavor.
This beer pours a murky purplish red with just a very thin off-white head. The aroma is quite sour and full of dark cherry. The sourness is fairly biting in the nostrils and may even have a slight bit of citrus presence. In the mouth, this beer is fairly complex and very biting. There is a predominant sourness here that tingles on the tip of the tongue and burns a stretch all the way to the back of the mouth, making you pucker up in the process. The actual flavors in this beer are fairly straightforward, including a dose of dark cherry, some light licorice, and some rich complexity no doubt coming from the cognac barrels. Honestly, I expected more fruit and sweetness in this beer, for some reason. However, it is apparent that Panil was going for a true sour ale when they crafted this. The sourness is metered by the surrounding flavors, but their presence in no way competes with sourness. The sour notes take center stage and give this beer a pourful kick. If you’re into exceptionally sour beers and can handle the pucker-factor, then you’ll probably like this. Personally, I find it very good. In my favorites of the genre, I would request a bit more of a balancing sweetness. However, this is, by all accounts, a well-made brew.