Showing posts with label Sour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sour. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sang Du Merle 2016 by Moon Under Water

There are three beers that I feel form the trilogy of fermented flavour awesomeness. The first is my personal favourite Rochefort 10. The second is by buddy's favourite, Orval. Final spot of honour falls upon my wife's favourite, Rodenbach. If I were stranded on a deserted island... you get the idea. Rodenbach is the pinnacle of sour beer perfection. The brewing process is quite complex and involves multiyear aging in open air oak vessels called foeders. This brewing process, and subsequent blending, produces a sour ale of startling complexity. One can pick out flavours of sour cherries, caramel, oak, balsamic vinegar and red wine. Whenever I taste a beer that claims to be a Flemish red sour, the comparison relative to Rodenbach is determined. It can be very hard to duplicate the fruity esters of cherries without a long and complex wood aging process. One way to mimic these flavours is to add in cherries. I fully endorse this idea.

Sang Du Merle 2016 = 9/10 


The best year so far. A nose that carries a tart, sweetness of cherries is sure to please Rodenbach fans. Within all that are hints of oak, balsamic and apple cores. It is not often you experience an effervescent, cherry infused balsamic but this is one of those times. Add to that a sweet prickly acidity that lingers and you pretty much sum up the Sang 2016. A must for sour fans.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Snifter or tulip

Food Pairings: I would recommend a sweet and sour Chinese dish. The bright acidity and effervescence would cut the heavy fats. While the sweet and sour from both would just resonate.

Cellar: I put a few down

Friday, July 1, 2016

Kokako Wild Ale by Moon Under Water

Every release of the Moon's barrel aged series is something to look forward to. Wild/Brett yeasts in wine or spirit barrels, what is there not to love. This release was aged in French oak with kiwi and whole leaf Wai-Tai hops.  I forget what these bottles set me back, perhaps $10ish. If this was a release from a bigger American craft brewer, you happily hand over $15-$20.

Kokako = 8/10 


The satisfying pop of the cork opened up aromas of barnyard Brett and tingly citrus. Prickly favours of lemons, wool, pineapples wash back with a refreshing tart acidity. Not quite mouth puckering, but close. The bottle will not last forever, but the linger of tart barnyard and lemonade almost does. Not sure where the kiwis went. Excellent.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.9%
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Clean tulip

Food Pairings: Food pairings with sour/wild beer are hard. Mainly because you just want to enjoy them on their own. I'm would pair with an open faced sandwich with tapenade and sticky wash rind cheese. The funk of the cheese and the beers should blend well. There will also be the sweetness/fattiness of the cheese and the oily olives contrasting with the sour of the Kokako.

Cellar: I'm will certainly but a few away

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Sax in Dark by Phillips

No preamble nor sharing, just cleaning up notes. This was the second in the Phillips sour series, Thorny Horn was the first. And much tastier.

Sax in the Dark = 3/10


Not a big fan of this one, most of the sour or tartness came from grape additions. It smelled a little like table grape bits on dark toast. Sour notes seemed to come from grape tannins and not Lactobacillus influence. The sip was a mix of whole wheat toast, slight chocolate and tart grape seeds with a linger of tongue coating grape tannics. Not really for me.

Taste +2
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content 0
Value 0
Appearance 0

Glassware: Clean

Food Pairings: Something

Cellar: Nope

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Sucker Punch Citra Sour by Swan's

This is terrible, two months of no beer reviews! Maybe I will just go back through my notes and not really post anything online. Thinking ahead for the 2106 top beers of Victoria.


Sucker Punch = 6/10

The nose is an odd mixture of red apples and dank. Despite a little thin mouthfeel there is ample tart tropical fruit flavours. Citra is very apparent with both aromas and flavours of lime, melon and pineapple. The tart and lactic character only seems to enhance these flavours. Sour and tart but not overpowering

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1 (quite clean, but still some residual tartness)
Alcohol Content 0 5.5%
Value +1 very tasty
Appearance +1 (fun label art, change of pace for Swan's)

Glassware: Teku. Only because it looks elegant and not everyone has one

Food Pairings: Poached lamb with tangerine glaze.

Cellar: maybe. Citra character will fade for sure, but will Brett take up slack?

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Moon Juice Kettle Sour

I love sour beers. The love of sour beers is polarizing in my opinion, you either love or hate. There is no middle ground. I feel this is the same for many culinary delights. Other examples include asparagus, sushi and cilantro. Let it be known; I do not like cilantro. Back to sour beers; I love sour beers. Luckily they do not contain cilantro.
Many fresh agricultural products are paired with bacteria or yeasts that will help ferment them. Grapes are covered in wine producing yeasts, ditto for apples. Barley is covered in Lactobacillus, which if whetted will lead to lactic acid fermentation. Normally wort is boiled to kill off these bacteria so the Saccharomyces yeast can ferment without competition. One exception is kettle souring. This brewing technique gives lactic acid bacteria a head start to produce the desired levels of sourness and attenuation. Once the desired level of sourness is achieved, the wort is boiled to halt the souring process and traditional fermentation proceeds as normal. Or in the case of the Berliner Weisse, the souring process if allowed to run its full course. Think of this as a lambic without atmospheric influence. Brewers might pitch a Lactobacillus culture to speed things along or produce a desired flavour.
Which leads us to the current trend of kettle souring. Many craft breweries are attempting one. Axe and Barrel makes a very nice spruce tip kettle sour.
Moon Juice Kettle Sour = 8/10


The nose is similar to lactic acid fermeneted beverages, think Kefir or yogurt. It also carries a hint of pine and oranges. A pleasant acidic tingle and oddly thick mouthfeel delivers all the sourness. Some felt it was a bit sweet, but I like a sweet beer. There was an equal part cereal, citrus and breadiness mixed together with an approachable yogurt like tartness. If you like your sours, this will make you happy. Sadly due to my lazy attitude this beer is already sold out. However, the Moon's Facebook page mentions another kettle sour release.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 (none mentioned but extra marks for deliciousness)
Value +1
Appearance +1

Glassware: Something small. I big glass of this sour might be hard to go through.

Food Pairings: This might be interesting contrast with a sweet dish, perhaps corn chowder. A good pairing would be an arugula salad with tart, salty feta or lightly acidic young goat cheese.

Cellar: I might try cellaring a growler of sour one day.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Phillips Thorny Horn Sour Raspberry Brown

This is what I call a pseudo-sour. When I hear the word sour, I imagine tartness from Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus or Pediococcus . The sourness and tartness from this beer is fruit derived, which is just fine.


Thorny Horn = 7/10


The nose has a bit of funk to it, but all I got was raspberry jam and bike tire air. It is all about the jammy fruit tartness on par with cranberry cocktail juice. You do get a bit of chocolate and acidity enhancements. The sourness is fruit derived only.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (label gives reasonable description of flavour)

Glassware: Tulip

Food Pairings: I'm thinking dessert. The fruit sourness would balance a sweet cheese cake. I raspberry or other berry topping would bridge the two nicely.

Cellar: This one might develop more sourness as time passes. If you can still find one, it would be a reasonable addition.

Driftwood De Auras Wheat Sour

It is nice to see a trend towards regular sour releases by local breweries. Driftwood seems to always have one on the shelves and Spinnakers has a regular line up. At least at this moment there were five sours on tap at the Spinnakers brewpub. I will keep this short; it's a sour, it's Driftwood, you can probably figure out the rest or have already drank a few bottles

De Auras =  8/10 


The nose is oddly sweet of oak barrel, horse blanket and Gew├╝rztraminer. As expected it is tart, medium acidic with a hint of dry tannins. Each sip reminds me of a white wine. Except this wine has been steeped in horseblankets, light pit fruits, oak and a sweet acidity. Yum. Think of this as an imperial Berliner Weisse.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 6.5%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great label art)

Glassware: Something tulip in shape. 

Food Pairings: Pair with sours is hard but not impossible. I'm thinking of an arugula salad with young goat cheese and a tart vinaigrette. This could also blend in nicely with a sweet and sour Chinese dish.

Cellar: Aging this one is a crap shoot. The malt base is not very complex, but could be fun to see what the yeast does over time.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Obscuritas Sour by Driftwood

Two things to mention in the post. The first is rather shocking. As everyone knows, last weekend was the Canadian Brewing Awards and BC Breweries cleaned up. Beer Me BC has a nice write up on his blog. What was shocking was that the most notable BC Brewery not to enter any beers was Driftwood. Nope, not a single entry. I wonder if they did not enter in 2014 either? Phillips just sent in their four best sellers. Too bad, apparently Blue Buck Pale Ale was a silver metal winner in the lager category in 2012.
The second item to mention was the inability to satisfy of my pompous palate. This is neither new nor exciting. Like a good Victoria beer drinker, I rushed out to buy the 2015 Driftwood sour release. Money was blindly placed on the counter and this coveted bottle was rushed home to chill. The idea temperature was reached and the favourite glass was used. After being thoroughly cleaned of course, lest I be scorned by a certain penny farthing rider. I sipped, I tasted, I tasted again and I was saddened. Don't get me wrong, this beer was delicious. I was just not stupefied. When the first Driftwood sour came out, I was blown away. The flavours were so unlike those the Victoria craft beer drinkers have every tasted. This years sour tastes very similar to last years. Perhaps the desire to search out new flavours and fermented imbibing experiences has cost me the ability to just enjoy a beer. The contents of my recycling bin has been looking rather empty lately. Is this why big breweries never market, or listen, to beer geeks/snobs? We, or maybe just I, never drink the same beer twice and whine whenever I do. This seems like a good time to shut my mouth, figuratively, and review this beer.

Obscuritas 2015 = 9/10


This beer hits all the marks that a good sour should. The nose is a ponderous mix of sweet and sour. Dark candy sugar and balsamic raspberry vinaigrette are the dominating aromas. Your teeth grind from the gripping acidity and your tongue screams from the sourness. It is hard to sort out the flavours, sour bing cherries, little wood smoke and molasses taffy. The ending coats everything and leave a long and pleasant sourness.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 7.6%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (beautify label art as always)

Glassware: A snifter

Food Pairings: Pairing with sours is hard, so I'm not going to bother this time

Cellar: Most certainly.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Hip as Funk IPA by Moon Under Water

I am really far behind in my posts, this beer was released in January. The name eludes to the flavours and it also has a great label. Correct me if I am wrong, but is this the first Brett conditioned beer to be released in Victoria? If so, props to Clay for releasing a brave new beer. If not, just props anyways for a great beer.

Hip as Funk = 7/10

The nose is all brett with nostril tingles of wood pile and wool gloves. It is a pleasantly tart and acrid sip that might be categorized as medium in body. To balance the tartness is a light pit fruit sweetness that encompasses apricots, dried pears, peaches and horse blanket. Sadly all these great flavours just end. It is has an oddly clean ending for an initially funky beer.


Taste +4
Aftertaste 0 (it just ends)
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great label)

Glassware: I would prefer a tulip, but my buddy Brian has chosen a hefe style. Which is fine due to abundant head produced.

Food Pairings: Pairing with sour beers is a challange, but pick something on the light side. A good idea might be a grilled ham and a funky brie cheese. The high carbonation of dryness would work well to remove fatty or spicy tastes from the tongue; hello Pad Thai! A spicy sausage hoagie would be a good choice.

Cellar: The brett yeast might produce some interesting changes with the residual sugar. Might be worth it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Moon Double Review - Le Sang and Bulldog

Maybe I am reading too much into this, but I don't remember hearing about the release of these two beers. Perhaps the need for the press release is dead. Has it been replaced by Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Will a brewer's social media follower list reach enough beer drinkers that outside help is not needed? What does this mean for blogs/websites that deliver beer drinking news? Perhaps I am thinking too much about this; shut up and review the beers.

This first beer had very little to say about it on the Moon Facebook page; "beer named after the View Royal Fire Department and inspired by a collaboration cask of Smoke & Fire. Its a sweet, lightly smoked malt base with just a hint of hop peppers in the boil". So it is sweet Scottish ale with light peppery spice?


Bulldog Belgo Scottish Ale = 6/10

With most Scottish ales the nose is fairly tame of peaty/smoked malts and caramel sweetness. The Bulldog delivered with a bit of prune richness in the aroma. Without any further surprises, this ale was a balanced mix of mild caramel, peat, dark fruits and dried apricots. This syrupy sweetness was layered upon an earthy hop bed with a spiciness of unknown origin. It left a chewy residue similar to a Mackintosh Toffee bar that you found in a potted plant. Very nice, I should have brought the bigger growler.

Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance 0 (for minimal press and little info on beer)

Glassware: Definitely a Scottish thistle; preferably cleaner than mine.

Food Pairings: Would bridge a dish with roasted or caramelized rich flavours, perhaps a pan seared pork chop with caramelized onions. I was thinking about a BBQ portabello mushroom burger with Branston pickles. The sweetness would calm a spicy dish. How about some flame broiled chicken with fiery Jamaican jerk sauce?

Cellar: Nope


This was the real purpose of my visit. There are three little words that makes Mrs. Left4Beer's heart go pitter-patter: Moon sour ale. I was instructed to go to brewery and not to return without a couple of bottles. This beer had an eventful life. It lingered in port barrels, mingled with black currants before getting a dose of Brett then stuck in a corked bottle.

Le Sang Du Merle = 9/10



The nose eludes to quick tour through sour town. The tour starts at the crossroads of black currant and tart vinegar. Next is a stroll into the land of tannic currants, sweet raspberry vinaigrette with a slight funk cameo. The tannins provide a dry pucker which is enhanced by the slight Brett character. This sensation just keeps going to a dry finish far in the distance. Sour beers never describe well to those who have never tried one. Well done.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9%
Value +1
Appearance +1  (very elegant and simple hand stamped labels)

Glassware: A tulip or snifter would work well to trap the inviting sour and tart fruity aromas.

Food Pairings: Nothing, just enjoy.

Cellar: With the addition of Brett and complex wood notes, this is certain one to put in cellar for 2 years minimum.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Driftwood Lustrum Sour Ale

My goodness time flies; Driftwood has been brewing for five years. Driftwood has been the first for many things on Vancouver Island, if not BC. The first wet hopped ale, the first sour and the first beer release achieving cult status. I'm not certain if they were the first to start a regular barrel aging program in BC. Regardless, this brewery has done much to open the palate range of BC beer drinkers. Fittingly, their fifth anniversary beer is a sour. It also happens to be the fifth sour to be released. The twist this time is aging in French oak and the addition of black currants. Most can guess what my review will be.

Driftwood Lustrum Sour Ale = 9/10

This juicy, red brew starts with a furious attack of tart currants, vinegar and tannic astringency. An acetous aroma instantly starts the Pavlovian response with its dark berry sourness. It has this odd flavour of young, but not green, wine. Perhaps due to the heavy presence of tannic and juicy black currants. An equal mix of lactic and vineous sourness fades linearly to a finish that appears to be dry and gritty. Very peculiar, as this is a very juicy, thick feeling brew.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +2
Alcohol Content +1 9.4% (I'm not so sure about this number)
Value +1
Appearance +1 (Nice label art with good description of beer flavour)

Glassware: Something bowl shaped is required to trap the sour and fruity aroma. A tulip or red wine glass would work well.

Food Pairings: Pairing with unique ales is challenging. Contrast this sour ale with something sweet and berry-like. I'm thinking cheesecake or fruit sorbet. Perhaps a duck breast with a wine and berry sauce would be in order. For those pesky Vegans/Vegetarians avoid the carnage and try a berry risotto or roasted squash with cranberry sauce.

Cellar: I am going to take a left turn here and say this beer will not cellar well. This beer will certainly not spoil, but I don't feel the flavour will change much. This is based on the fact that there is little residual sweetness for the yeasts to work on. The currant derived tannic character might not fade. Regardless, I plan to buy a couple more to try and prove myself wrong.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Belle Royal 2013 (Driftwood)

It is with great trepidation that I open this bottle of Belle Royal Sour Cherry Wild Ale. Opening a bottle of Driftwood used to be a feeling of great excitement; now that has been replaced by apprehension. You may have noticed that there was no review of the Singularity 2013 this year. Others couldn't care less what I think. This is the third sour by Driftwood. The Bird of Prey was a glorious thing. The Mad Bruin was also a solid performer but paled in comparison.

Belle Royal 2013 (Sour) = 7/10

Sitting in French and Appalachian oak does funny things to a beer. It gives the nose a funky, muddled cherry aroma. The sip is mild at first with the predictable tart cherries, wool blanket and oak tastes. What is lacking is the sweet vinaigrette. Perhaps all I want is for every sour beer to taste like Rodenbach or Monk's Cafe. Then the lemon and pineapple acidity wash over the tongue with a slight numbing sensation. It feels like my tongue is being digested by fresh pineapple enzymes. The ending is very dry, refreshingly tannic with a slight fruity rawness. If someone gave me this drink blindfolded I would have guessed it was a sangria with too much pineapple juice and oaked chardonnay.
Upon reading my above review, it sounds so horribly pompous and biased. Buy this beer, you will enjoy it. It is mildly sour, tart, fruity and very refreshing. I has hoping to relieve my first sour beer experience. Your first bottle of Rodenbach Grand Cru will forever be the unobtainable benchmark. Mestreechs Aajt is a second best.


Taste +3
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 8%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great art as always with good description of flavour)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mad Bruin by Driftwood

Have you ever opened something that was not what you were expecting. Imagine a present wrapped up under the Christmas tree; it looks like a hockey stick. Sweet! A new hockey stick for Christmas day road hockey. Your excitement grows the more you look at this stick. Christmas morning arrives and your rush downstairs to check the flex on your new Easton. Shredded wrapping paper flies to reveal ... a golf club?
I think people were expecting another Flanders red Bird of Prey; a brew that could suck your eyeballs in. I honestly thought Driftwood has nuts to release a Flanders red. This is not an approachable beer. Oud bruins are generally less sour than the Flanders red. This lack of overt sourness and more malty makes them a little easier on the palate.
That year I cried when sampling the Bird of Prey: it was gloriously sour and it aged well. Beer geeks were pleased to have another cellarable beer. The Misses didn't like it - too sour. This year the Misses loved the Mad Bruin. It was fruitier, complex and not too sour. Again I cried. I wanted something with more face twisting sourness. After finishing off a box of tissues, I reflected:

Mad Bruin = 8/10

The slight addition of tears to the glass released the nose. It was tart- yet sweet - with predictions of sourness, root beer and wood vanilla. This was not a face puller. I did long for another sip. It was tart and dry, almost cider like. Except this cider carried wood hints, vanilla, plums and miscellaneous sour fruits. The ending was dry, short and left an impression of fruity balsamic vinegar. Delicious and sessionable sour. Cellaring a few might be in order.

Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7%
Value +1
Appearance +1 (great label and perfect description of the beer's flavour)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Driftwoods Bird of Prey Flanders Red

When I heard about this beer two thoughts went through my head: are they nuts and yippie! I have had a few Flanders sours and these are not approachable beers. The flavours can be quite intence: mouthpuckering sour, tart with hints of vinegar and cherry syrup. Hence, I thought they were nuts to brew a beer that people might think is off flavoured. The YIPPIE reaction was from the happiness in learning that a local brewery was going to brew a beer to challenge the local palates. I had a little warmup at the Alibi Room with Storm's Imperial Sour Flanders Red last weekend. This beer was excellent and impressively sour, yet sweet.

Bird of Prey Flanders Red = 8/10

I had a preconceived notion of what this should taste like, luckily my biases were unfulfilled. Often Flanders reds can be intensely sweet, the Bird of Prey is not. The nose is spot on with various fruits like cherries and currants. Added aromas of tart fruit vinegar provide curiosity. This brew sparkles when it hits the tongue and provides a bit of alcohol warmth. Flavours are not as intense as I thought they would be. Pick up a Duchesse de Bourgogne or Vichtenaar for comparison. The Bird had more wood flavours than I expected. It was very dry, ample tannins, and notably astringent. Flavours of oak, tart cherries, sour currant and a good vinaigrette were unmistakable. This beer was great! I look forward to aging a few bottles in hopes that the wood flavours will fade and more sweetness appears. I am equally excited to try future yearly releases as the barrels should impart fewer woody flavours.


Taste +4
Aftertaste +1
Alcohol Content +1 7.5% (I don't think so)
Value +1
Appearance +1 always great art and proper description of flavour on the bottle

Previous Sour reviews
Rodenbach Grand Cru
Monk's Cafe