A sour brown ale of the Flanders Red style from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, the 2016 edition was aged in French oak for 1-3 years. The nose is light and musty. The middle is bright, very tart, and strongly apple flavored. There’s a bit of vanilla in the finish, presumably from the oak, but the sour apple still dominates. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol is a pleasant 7.0% ABV. It isn’t terribly complex, but it is beautiful in its simplicity. A sour brown ale of the Flanders Red style from New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, the 2016 edition was aged in French oak for 1-3 years. The nose is light and musty. The middle is bright, very tart, and strongly apple flavored. There’s a bit of vanilla in the finish, presumably from the oak, but the sour apple still dominates. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol is a pleasant 7.0% ABV. It isn’t terribly complex, but it is beautiful in its simplicity.
I give it a 4.4 out of 5.
From New Belgium’s Lips of Faith series, Transatlantique Kriek is a wood-aged sour cherry ale. The result is a very bright, tart sour that is a deep ruby color in the glass. The nose is fairly mild with just a slight hint of cherry, and not much else. The middle explodes with tartness, and the cherries are subtle, or perhaps just overcome by the huge sour bite, but they are definitely there in the background, and come a bit forward in the finish. It’s fairly simple, without a lot of complexity, but a definitely a nice sour with a bit a fruit lambic flare. The body is medium and the alcohol is a moderate 7.0% ABV.
I give it a 4.3 out of 5.
Otra Vez is a Gose-style ale brewed with cactus and grapefruit. I pity I found it late in the year, as this is the sort of beer I love in the heat of summer. Light, fairly heavily carbonated, and refreshing are the properties that come to mind. The nose is minimal and slightly sour. The middle is sharply tart and carbonated. The grapefruit comes strongly to the fore in the finish, along with undertones from the cactus. It’s not particularly complex, just a simple beer with a couple of notes at a time, but that shouldn’t be held against it, because what is here is lovely. The body is light to medium and the alcohol is an equally light 4.5% ABV. A fine treat, particularly for summer.
I give it a 4.1 out of 5.
This is a bit of a special review for me. Specifically, it’s the 400th beer review I’ve done for OpenCraftBeer.com over the last 7 or so years. I had a couple of goals when I started reviewing beers for the site. The first was simply that I wanted something that would motivate me to continually keep looking for new beers to try and enjoy, expanding my horizons and my taste buds instead of lazily falling back on the same few known quantities. Inside of the broader goal, I also had a more specific goal, which was to try to review as many beers as I could get my hands on from one of my favorite breweries, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Craft Brewery. To that end, it’s a fitting bit of fate that my 400th review also happens to be my 40th Dogfish Head beer review.
Ok, time for the review. SeaQuench Ale is a session sour from Dogfish Head, designed to be tart and brewed with lime peel, black limes and sea salt. Sours ale are particularly strongly flavored style, and an issue I often have have which session-weight beers is that they have a tendency to end up as a weak imitation of the style. This is not the case with this beer, as the flavor is full and bright. You can smell the citrus and the salt on the nose, and the middle is bursting with lime, and plenty of that beautiful Belgian sour bite. There’s a good bit of carbonation, but not too much, and as you fade to the finish, the saltiness comes back into the fore. The body is light to medium, and the alcohol is a pleasantly light 4.9% ABV. The final word on this one is that it’s a tasty, well-executed beer that I would happily drink year round.
I give it a 4.6 out of 5.
And the hits just keep on comin’. Brouwerij RODENBACH selects a single oak cask of their Flanders Red Sour Ale that, after having matured for two years, has produced the best beer, and bottles and labels the beer that comes out of this cask as their “Vintage” for year. In the case of 2011, this is cask number 95. The nose is floral with honey and faint wild yeast, the middle is tart with cherries and strong plum flavor. The finish is sweet, with the sugars coming back to the fore and tamping down the tartness, but the flavors of cherries, plums, and green apple are still consistent and dominant. The oak is quite subtle, and I suspect is responsible more for maturing the flavors that already exist in this intensely flavored sour than for adding new flavors of its own, though there are tiny hints of vanilla in the finish. This is not a particularly big beer at 7.0% ABV, or a heavy one, but it is exceptional. It should be on every sour lovers list.
I give it a 4.9 out of 5.
Merry Christmas Eve! Today is a day of anticipation for the celebration to come, and for the special occasion, a special beer. Lindemans is known for their fine lambics (several of which I’ve reviewed on this blog) but Gueuze Curvée René is a particularly unusual and amazing beer. It’s a lambic, but a mixture of two-thirds young lambic, and one-third old lambic, which is then bottle conditioned for six months. The result is one of a kind. The capped and corked bottle pops as if it were champagne. The nose is sour wild Belgian yeast. The body is medium, and the flavor from middle to finish is tart and dry, with the tartness followed by notes of apricot and grapes, with very little discernible residual sugar. This is closer to dry sparkling wine than to the typical beer. My bottom line: This is a beer to celebrate with.
I give it a 4.9 out of 5.