FlacoAlto (3810) - Tucson, Arizona, USA - JAN 11, 2008
4.3 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
Batch 002; Sampled January 2008
A careful, persistent pour yields a fat-one-finger thick, dingy, tan colored head. The beer is a brilliantly clear, light cherry red color. Tart aromatics of acetic acid, lactic acid and moldy cheese are the first thing I notice in the nose. Quite fruity, but it is a sort of non-descript, perhaps berry-like, sweet fruitiness. The barrel character is present, but held well in check by the other aromatic components; touches of vanillin, a backdrop of spicy oak, some hints of butterscotch around the edges and a tannic character that is definitely noticed. The nose is quite funky, teetering on the edge of being off; over-ripe cheese, penicillin and buttery oak notes all contribute to this. Compared to a Lambic, this has quite a bit of acetic acid character to it, which is something I always enjoy if kept to a reasonable level.
Tart tasting, in fact very tart tasting; this is a nice mix of lactic and acetic notes. The lactic acid is the more prevalent not, but I am not sure that the lesser amount of acetic acid is not the most noticed part of the acidity. Flavors of tart cherries, tamarind and star fruit are all noticeable in this exceedingly dry beer. The body actually has a bit of heft to it though, which should be attributed to the barrel contribution and touches of residual malt character. Dry cherry notes, rich (though diluted) balsamic character, . A tannic, tongue coating note in the finish adds spicy almost piquant oak flavors that coat the tongue in a long finish. The barrel adds notes of buttery oak, spicy wood, some soft, creamy vanillin and probably even some berry flavors (assuming that the noticed berry flavors are coming from the Pinot Noir part of the barrel). As the beer warms it really starts to come into its own; the fruit & malt seem to balance the sour notes all that much more and make this even more enjoyable.
This is quite a bit more acetic in character than batch one. This is actually quite hard for a red / brown styled sour beer. An aggressive, but enjoyable, experience if you are into that sort of thing. I like that the oak character is much more integrated (though it still plays a significant role) than it was in batch one, but it still has a little ways to go before it hits that perfect balance between malt and funk / oak. This is still a fantastic beer, but I canít wait to see if Vinnie can dial this in a bit more over the next couple batches.
Batch 001: Sampled July 2005
Pours a hazy ruby red color when held up to the light, an amber color otherwise. The head is thin and tan in color. The aroma is dominated by a fresh oakiness, but, especially when I was pouring this, there is a nice acetic acid note to this that reminds me of a Rodenbach. The nose has notes of buttery oak, hints of cherries, balsamic, and a certain tannic woodiness. The aroma is quite well integrated with a great balance to it, though it does lean toward the acidity, which I am partial to.
The taste is fairly dry, much drier than the pasteurized Flemish beers, but still strikes a malty balance with a bit of caramel complexity to it. The finish is pleasingly acidic, with a leaning towards the acetic side of things. This beer is really well done, I am quite impressed, this is quite a bit farther along than the temptation. The finish has notes of a tannic woodiness, plus a long sour note that lingers along with the woodiness. This beer certainly reminds me of cherries, with a nice fruitiness to it. The more I drink it the more I become enamored of this beer, an authentic Flemish style sour beer that has not been pasteurized. This is quite a bit better, and much more balanced than New Belgiumís La Folie. There is a wonderful interplay between the oak, maltiness, and acid character; this is superb and I canít wait to get more vintages of this.
Purchased: <a href=http://www.russianriverbrewing.com>Russ River Brewing
hayduke (3534) - Eureka, California, USA - DEC 31, 2007
3.6 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 16/20
I hope I did not keep this bottle in the cellar too long as the sourness was almost overpowering, and there was no head at all. It poured a rich mahogany with a nose of fruit and sour cherry. Mouthfeel had some bite. This might not be for everyone because my brother took one sip and poured his share into my glass. I believe this is supposed to taste the way it does and is a good example of its type, but overall it was not the blockbuster brew I was expecting. Next time I am in Santa Rosa if they have this on tap I will have to compare it to the bottle I just drank. I almost hate to post this review because I want to give this beer its just due, and mine is not up to the raves from everyone else.
VikingHammer (506) - Lynnfield, Massachusetts, USA - DEC 31, 2007
4.4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 18/20
Thanks to Chris from Ebenezerís Pub for breaking out this gem for me to try. This beer pours a lovely dark orange with a small white head. Big malt aroma with hints of sour cherry and floral hops. Flavors were sweet fruits, oak and sour cherries. Lots of nice carbonation that really allows this beer to dance on your tongue. One of the most balance beers I have ever had. Awesome. My first Russian River and hopefully not my last.
IslandHaole (1091) - Yokosuka-Shi, Kanagawa-Ken, JAPAN - DEC 31, 2007
3.9 AROMA 7/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
An attractive ruby color with a slight haze and a smallish beige head. Has the Lambic/Kriek scent with some deep forest woodiness in there, as well as some Framboise, nice! Has a pleasant tartness, not overwhelming like Cantillon but not a cloying sweetness like Belle-Vue, a well-balanced happy medium that will appeal to fans of both the tart and sweet. Pinot flavors noticeable. Very tasty!
OldMrCrow (2034) - Seattle, Washington, USA - DEC 29, 2007
4.2 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
UPDATED: JAN 15, 2014 Bottle from franksnbeans -- thanks! Batch 002, tasted 12/29/07.
The cork pops with a satisfying vigor, vapors streaming skyward. The beer pours smooth, a small head, sediment staying down at the bottom of the bottle. The beer itself is absolutely beautiful. The color varies strikingly according to the viewing direction: now a warm red-orange, now rose emerging from a dark body, but from every direction, it simply glows.
The aroma: aaah. Rich, sweet sour ale. Hints of chocolate truffle and pie cherry juice. Wood infused throughout, lactic aromas throughout, brett laid out across it all. Wonderful.
In the flavor, a powerful sourness, but not over-the-top in any way. Plenty of brett meeting the lactic flavors. Beneath it, oh, yes, those cherries - almost subtle but essential. Lively carbonation on the tongue, gently accenting the sour refreshing nature, acidic enough to contort the lip, never so acidic as to burn into the throat or nasal passages.
Iím lucky to have had the chance to try this one. The sourness is uncompromising but itís not what defines the beer. What defines this one is the balance of wood and cherries, brett and inner glow. Superb.
Batch 02, Jan 2014. This one has aged like a dream. Cherries take a back seat but the sour is perfect, rich but never harsh. Much better than the rather abrasive beer Iíve had fresh on tap. What a gem! Iíd go 4.3 on this and would adjust my scoring accordingly (9 instead of 8 for flavor) if there was any way to regularly score 6 year old bottles.
theisti (3349) - Leawood, Kansas, USA - DEC 29, 2007
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 16/20
UPDATED: AUG 10, 2011
++++ RE-RATE 20 July 2011 ++++
375 ml bottle purchased at Texas in Carlsbad, California. Batch 6, (006X2) on label. First pour is a clear golden, ruby with a smallish off white head. Subsequent pours became more hazed, I had stored the bottle upright for about 2 months in my wine fridge. Fine carbonation bubbles are evident. Aroma is sour cherries, high tannin wood, and the dry leathery Brett. The sour is quite smooth, and blends nicely with the Barrel. The taste is brightly acidic and tart, the cherries along with a citrus lemon, then woody barrel, and finishing with the dry earthy leather. All the flavors are nicely integrated. The palate is really nice, medium to light bodied, quite smooth, perfect level of bright carbonation, sour and drying finish with a nice woodiness in the long finish. (8,4,9,5,16 - 4.2)
++++ ORIGINAL RATING 29 December 2009 ++++
Batch 002. 375 ml bottle shared by John Bryan, enjoyed at my Holiday Mini Tasting. Pour is hazy orange-ruby with a quickly fading off white head. Aroma of flowers,cherry fruitiness and cotton candy sweetness. Taste is big sour black cherry fruit, woodiness is present throughout. Super great acidity and bight sourness. Everything is perfectly smooth and in balance. This was one helluva beer. Right up there with Castleton as the best Sour I have tried to date. (8,4,9,4,17 - 4.2)
douglas88 (6611) - Portland, Oregon, USA - DEC 29, 2007
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 7/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 17/20
UPDATED: JAN 18, 2008 2nd batch thanks to the Great Utah tasting. Pours a light orange/red with a decent thin head. The aroma is so unique; sour cherries, aged wine, and some sweet hints of fruit and malts. The taste does not let you down; a really rich sourness that dances in your mouth, a nice acidic/ alcohol burn that really adds a ton. The flavor is mostly sour cherries up front, but later leads to a yeasty flavor also with some oak barrel and sweet rich malts. High marks for uniqueness. Great!
henrikb (1259) - Aarhus, DENMARK - DEC 28, 2007
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 5/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
June 2007 - Batch 01 - This beer might have the most beautiful red amber body I have ever seen, with a big and small bubbled some what lasting head; Maybe I expect to much from these BA sour RRís, but I get slightly disappointed evey time I have one. The nose is great it has everything, it just gives it self up way to easy, it lacks the Belgium (sour Belgiumís) toughness, roughness, the "you wont get me that easy" attitude, they need more MALE attitude. You can feel the lactic sourness in the nose but it is hidden by the sweet cherry cinnamon perfumed to easy aromas that is also way to present in the NB Enigma; The body is good and a little more complex then the nose, a wooden barrel like tannin harshness is a little to present otherwise it is balanced with a very little sourness, a little bitterness and to much to big bubbled carbonation; It finishes a bit to short, aromas and feel grows big right when the beer is swallowed, but fades to fast, a very small lactic touch, again lots of barrel tannins, some barrel aroma but also tons of this sweet cinnamon cherry aroma that is much better fitting in a cake then in a beer. It is very strange that the cherry aromas in US beers are so very, very much different from the cherry aromas in Belgium beers, uhh there are some good Belgium sours!
rauchbier (3639) - Isle Of Beer, Lincolnshire, ENGLAND - DEC 24, 2007
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Bottle, at various locations during the Zythos weekend, March 2006. Golden orange with a slight haze, thin off white head and good condition. Big barleywine malt and toffee sweetness with a gentle barnyardy tartness in the nose, quite thin and alcoholic in the mouth with a gentle fruity tartness that lingers long into the finish before becoming dry.
franksnbeans (265) - Columbus, Maryland, USA - DEC 23, 2007
4.2 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 17/20
Pours a hazy burned orange/caramel with a white head that dies completely. Smells of huge sourness, a little cherry and oak as an afterthought. Taste starts out mild then BAM, huge rush of tarty goodness. You want to pucker its so sour. Finally mellows out with the oak and cherry peaking through. Medium in the mouth and a tickle of either carbonation or the tartness giving its finishing move. You want to sip this because larger samplings at a time would be a waste. A very tasty and different libation.