BlackForestCO (978) - Aurora, Colorado, USA - FEB 1, 2008
4.7 AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 19/20
UPDATED: JUL 31, 2008 Batch 002 bottle gracefully shared by Crosling. This beer was even better than I expected. Poured a nice golden-caramel color with a thin tan head that diminished. Rising bubbles and some suspended yeast. Tart, cherry-apple aroma with undertones of oak. Wonderfully complex flavor. Sweet, smooth entry leads into a tart, semi-funky cherry and sweet apple. Oak and yeast flavors become apparent on the finish that continues changing even minutes after you swallow. Drying and semi-puckering. Spectacular, thanks again Nick.
illidurit (2279) - San Francisco, California, USA - JAN 26, 2008
4.9 AROMA 10/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 10/10 PALATE 5/5 OVERALL 20/20
Poured into a goblet. Orangish amber color, off-white head. Carbonation is champagney, effervescent and lively.
Smells beautifully sour. Oak and cherries come out in the background but overall this smells very acidic and tart.
Sweet red fruit fights for its life but the tartness takes over. Notes of cherry, wood, wine grapes, vanilla, brett. Bone dry finish. Great complexity here and a great combination of flavors.
Delicate body, carbonation like champagne, very smooth and bubbly. Clearly a beer to sip but itís very rewarding as it evolves with warmth.
TheEpeeist (3709) - Media, Pennsylvania, USA - JAN 20, 2008
4.1 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 3/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
12.7 oz bottle, batch 002. Foggy garnet and gold, light froth. Nose of cherry sourdough, funky orange peel and toffee. Tongue-twisting sour but balanced by fruits, malts. Sour cherry, caramel dipped slices of Granny Smith and lime sherbet. Oaky drying with cherry skins. Juicy with a tingle. Beauty.
footbalm (1219) - Western Minneapolis Suburbs, Minnesota, USA - JAN 18, 2008
4.3 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 18/20
Had a few of these and this one was enjoyed as I was sitting next to milkmandan at JKís tasting a year or so ago. This is the king of brew that can be enjoyed without ever having to actually taste it. dan remarked how much he loved this and I had to agree. the nose was fantastic. Complex and heavenly with the aroma of soured fruit and earthiness. Really a treat.
jgb9348 (5555) - Arlington (Pentagon City), Virginia, USA - JAN 12, 2008
4 AROMA 8/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
Nice deep brown coloured body with a thinnish tan head and a ruby tint. Sour aroma of cherries, grapes and yeast. Very nice and sour! Medium-bodied; Very acidic flavour of cherries, nuts, yeast, malt, grapes and vinegar. Aftertaste shows more sour flavours - but some good sweetness as well. Overall, a really good flemish sour - definitely one to try! I sampled this split 37 cL bottle purchased from Normís in Vienna, Virginia on 25-December-2007.
FlacoAlto (4133) - 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 (4629) - 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 (1228) - Mililani, Hawaii, USA - 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 (2362) - 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.