Sour Summer Sampler!

This weekend the girlfriend and I went over to Browerij Lane, my favorite beer bar in the neighborhood, to beat the heat and try some interesting new stuff.  When we arrived, we noticed that six of the beers on the chalkboard were highlighted in red. Little did we know that it was the weekend of the Sour Summer Sampler! They were pouring flights of 6 hard-to-find sours for 20 bucks. Done and done.

Here are some tasting notes we compiled, in order from lightest to darkest. The girlfriend’s completely scientific rating is listed under C and mine’s under B.

Cisco Lady of the Woods

“Nantuckett’s Cisco brewers aren’t necessarily known for their sour ales, but they create some of America’s best. This 5% wild ale has chardonnay-like vinous notes, tropical fruit, coconut, oak and funk.”

  • Aroma: Butterscotch, coconut, hints of Diacetyl. Oaky and carmelized.
  • Taste: Oak, burnt candy and vanilla. Almost like a dry chardonnay. Hints of papaya with some classic wild-ale fermentation funk. Really nice dry finish with strong vanilla aftertaste. I liked this one a lot.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:97, C:90

Cantillon Fou’ Foune

“This relatively modern lambic was added to the Cantillon lineup in 1998 and named after Francois Daronnat, a french apricot grower nicknamed ‘foufoune’.”

  • Aroma: Dried apricots, plain and simple. Also, red jolly ranchers?
  • Taste: Lots of dried apricots up front, finished very quickly and really fry. Very sour with a light body. Slight bitterness. A beautiful, elegant example of a sour beer. Fantastic!

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:98, C:96

Birrifico le Baladin Nora Sour

“The original beer (before its sour treatment) recreated and ancient egyptian beer recipe. Ginger, myrrh, and orange peel are incorporated, as well as unmated kamu wheat. This version’s bacterial fermentation lends a gentle tartness which compliments this beer’s delicate honey and orange flavors.”

  • Aroma: Honey, herbaceous. Slight orange-peel aroma.
  • Taste: Compared to the others, not really sour at all. A thick, syrupy mouthfeel, very similar to an under-fermetned mead. Wine yeast flavor, along with honey, wheat and candied orange. Too sickly sweet for my tastes.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:68, C:72

BFM Abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien

“L’abbaye de Saint Bon-Chien is a unique ale aged in wooden casks which have been used several years before to age merlot, cabernet, whiskey, and then grappa. The simple pre-barrel amber ale base is described by BFM’s Jerome Rebetez as ‘a prostitute’, a simple, balanced strong ale that readily takes on the character of each of the barrels he’s chosen to introduce.”

  • Aroma: Classic sour lactobacillus smell. Hints of raspberry and cherry.
  • Taste: Very winey, in a good way. Raspberry and grape up front, finishing like a medium-bodied leathery red wine. Background hints of malt and wild fermentation. Not a whole lot of mouthfeel on this one, finishing quickly with a slight bit of residual sweetness.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:90, C:89

Gulpner Bierbrowerij Mestreechs Aajt

“This is a strange one … a belnd of ‘Hollandish’ oud bruin around 3.5% alc/vol, dortmunder lager bockbier around 6.5% alc/vol, and the primeval beer. The ‘primal’ beer has been aged in traditional wooden barrels. It introduced lactobacilli, brettanomyces, and other microflora.”

  • Aroma: Lager and dark-roasted malt aroma of a Schwarzbier.
  • Taste: This one was awesome. Dead-on Schwarzbier lager character in front, followed by the sour plum and stone fruit. Finished really cleanly like a black lager, with hints of roast and molasses-like residual sweetness.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:94, C:98

Picobrouwerij Alvinne Freddy Wild

“Alvinne is one of Belgium’s newest and most highly regarded breweries. This beer is often referred to as ‘straight freddy’, a wild ale with notes of molasses, dark fruit, coffee, red wine and blackberries.”

  • Aroma: Coffee and tart cherries.
  • Taste: Almost dead-on coffee porter flavor up front, followed by a sour finish with lots of blackberries and tart cherries. Noticeable alcohol, with a solid leathery sweetness. Stays drinkable for such a roasty beer, kind of like a dry irish stout.

Completely Scientific Rating:

B:93, C:88

All together, a fantastic group of unusual beers!

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