American Wild Ale

Russian River/Sierra Nevada – Brux


Good Monday to you faithful readers! Today we have a very special beer, and no I’m not sick of saying that yet.  As I sit down to review this beautiful brew, I do so with a genuine smile. For this brew is a collaboration between the well-known Sierra Nevada brewery, and the well-known-to-beer-nerds Russian River.  This brew stood out when I saw it there smiling at me from the cooler, and it is in fact a sour beer!  Proudly professing it’s use of Brett on the label, it begs to be tasted. I haven’t had any sour beers from Russian River (can’t get them without trading I’m afraid) and I don’t even know of a Sierra Nevada sour in existence. Well, were not here to talk about history, were here to talk about beer, so let’s get on with this pony show.

Ohh, she wears a very nice golden color, almost a bit sunshiny like Pliny but not quite as exuberant. And though she does leave a decent amount of head for your pleasure, the pleasure is short-lived and dissipates rapidly. What’s interesting however, is the excessive energy I’m seeing in this brew’s carbonation. Like an overpowered fish tank aeration stone, the bubbles come fast and don’t stop. This beer screams effervescence to say the least. Let’s see if the smell matches this emotion!

Ohhh yeah, tartness where have you been all my life? Truly the smell is a delight for fellow sour-lovers. The tart is up front and center, just where she should be. Playing a supporting, but equally important role, is a crisp apple and perhaps a bit of peach aroma. And then it’s lovingly finished off by the farmhouse sweetness you get from oh- so-many good saisons. This promises one balanced brew, let’s see if she makes good on that promise shall we?

Hmmm, she does for the most part, but perhaps she’s leaning a bit towards sweetness over tartness. I knew she was a big sweetie pie the moment I saw her eyeing me in the store. Now, I must say, the store clerk did inform me
that I should wait a bit to drink this beauty. Well of course it’s the first one I pop open, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Ah…the joys of  unwrapping presents early! Let’s walk down this unwrapping one ribbon at a time.

First, as it should be, you get hit with a slight bit of tartness. It’s quickly supported by Lady Sweetness, who somewhat overshadows our lil’ Miss Tart in this broadway production. Chalk it up to her powerful performance, renowned across the land.  But not to be outdone so easily, our Little Miss Tartness shines through mid-swallow with a nice sun beam of flavor, accompanied by a bit of a bite. The memory of this grandiose production is largely sweet and tart, but again Lady Sweetness shows her prowess by leaving a stronger imprint.

The body of this bodacious beauty is the perfect stage to support these complex roles. It’s a rich, incredibly bubbly stage, and all this activity allows the flavors to truly battle each other. Like some kind of anime with fighting bubbles, what was that called again? Bubblemon? Regardless, it’s a damn fine body for a damn fine beer.

Overall this is a pretty subtle sour, but a great beer regardless. It may be a bit on the sweeter side, but not so much that it’s overwhelming. The tartness, subtle as it is, is enough to balance this brew. If your just getting into sours try this baby out… or if you’ve never had a sour this is a good place to start for sure.

Until next beer this is Brian G. signing out!

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Categories: American Wild Ale, Beer | Leave a comment

The Bruery – Tart of Darkness


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Well hello young readers!

It’s been quite some time since I’ve sat down and written a beer blog entry. I know many of you may have been concerned for me….but fear not! I have not stopped drinking in all this absence…no nothing so blasphemous! It’s just the reviews that had stopped.Well no more!

Today I happened upon a very special beer brewed in Orange County California….now some of you beer lovers know that they brew some goooooood stuff (is that enough o’s ?) over on the west coast, and being all the way on the east coast I often don’t have the privilege of tasting these wonders. But “The Bruery” is one of the breweries that does make its way all the way to the Atlantic coast. In particular I have what they call a “sour black ale”, but the name “Tart of Darkness” sounds a bit more appealing than the name of the beer type. So without further ado let’s commence this review!

First of all this beauty is a very, very, VERY dark red. Honestly it’s one of the darkest reds I’ve ever seen, almost like I’m some sort of vampire lord sipping blood from my gilded chalice. And the head is pretty thin, which truth be told, I’m a little disappointed in. Knowing this was a sour I didn’t expect much head…but that still doesn’t abate my penchant for more head than you’d expect. Ah yes, the sexual innuendo will never cease on this blog, I resume without missing a step. Innuendo aside the head disappeared pretty quickly but it does have nice lacing.  Mmmm head and lacing….sorry, sorry I got distracted. Well enough looking, let’s give this ale a whiff and see how sour she really is. Maybe she just had a bad relationship, I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt.

Whooooooa……MAN that is one sour girl right there. She’s had her heart broken a few too many times and I can smell it on her. The sour is so strong that it’s hard to take a big whiff of this without cringing….it’s an aptly named ale because this baby is T A R T. Now I’m not a big fan of sours actually, it’s one of the types of beers that really takes some time to appreciate (read: tolerate). From what I understand, sours are made by purposely infecting your beer with bacteria. Now before all you homebrewers go and dip your toilet brush in your fermenters double-check me on that fact.  I’m just goin off the top of my head here…I suppose I could look it up I mean Firefox is staring at me patiently on my other screen….meh I’ve got beer to drink. There’s not much else to say about the smell but I’m gonna go in again and see what comes up…alright here we go…

Hello???? Coffee??? Is that you back there??? Man, I want to say it is, but the sour smell is screaming at the top of her lungs and the backup singer just gets overpowered. Well, on to the best part!

Carefully going to sip this one…I remember my first experience with Rodenbach Grand Cru and that sourness surprised the hell out of me. I think I ended up falling backwards out of my chair…well maybe not. Ohhhhweeeeeeeeee….wait how do you spell that statement? Ooooweee? No that looks like ow…you know that ooo sound, like shoe but ooo, then you add wee at the end.  Regardless, (Insert hard to describe noise of appreciation, fear, curiosity, and lust). That’s the kind of sound this beer coax’s from me.

The reason is simple…this baby is SOUR with a capital SOUR. Now I’m sure some of you sour aficionados can appreciate this brew more than I, but screw you it’s sour. Maybe one day I will truly achieve a tolerance for these beers, but you gotta start somewhere and this is number two! Sour aside, I’m gonna tough this out and see what I can find.

Well… it has this roasty overtone which I think is the black ale coming through, almost like a nice stout. It’s definitely in the background though, or maybe it’s the scenery and the sourness is the fat lady singing. Unlike the woman singing opera, this beer has a great body. It’s very full but not thick and chewy. I think it’s just right for this brew, kind of like a Dubbel. The carbonation is barely noticeable but everything is kind of barely noticeable besides the sours. I’m sure some sour fans are thinking “this noob!” right about now. Well, your right, but that won’t stop me from trying this style. Let it never be said that I only gave a beer style one chance…well besides that toilet ale my buddy made once…but that’s just between us gentle readers.

Overall I’d have to say I can’t fully appreciate this beer yet. I mean I do appreciate the work that goes into making a sour and why they are special, but I can’t appreciate the different nuances and curves of this brew. And a fine beer is like a fine lady, she deserves to have every curve and nuance fully appreciated. But…I can only get better in time and it’s a reason to drink more beer styles I don’t particularly care for. It’s like how I used to hate stouts and now they are my favorite style…well that or a good IPA. Perhaps one day I shall be better able to detect the hints of roasted coffee or spicy esters in a sour but not this day. Not this day indeed. This beer leaves me feeling anything but sour though.

Until next beer this is Brian G signing off!

Categories: American Wild Ale, Beer | 2 Comments

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