Something worth doing is worth overdoing, loyal reader. That's why I'm pushing into uncharted territory with an unprecedented third tasting of hopped sour beers. I'm blaming the unseasonably hot, humid weather for sending my palate into a swampy torpor, for which a hopped sour is the only cure. After my initial skepticism, I've warmed to the punchy combination of flavors in these tart, hoppy beers. After a prolonged session, a highly hopped IPA or a very tart sour can become paradoxically monotonous, the unique flavors that distinguish them causing “palate fatigue.” Hopped sours seem to short-circuit that palate-pounding. The combination of both flavors yanks the tongue so hard in opposite directions, it's a puzzle in every sip. Cheers and stay tuned for a new style next week!
Weyerbackher SEXY Motherpucker
Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle
Availability: Purchased at RSVP
Tasting Notes: Pours a dark nut-brown with a thin tan head. Aroma has cherry, toffee and citric acid. The first sip is a riddle of contradictory flavors. A rich, caramel toffee flavor opens, creating the unconscious anticipation of a rich porter. What follows is nothing like a porter – it's a complex sour with so many barrel characteristics that it reminds me of a Flanders red, or another aged, old-school Euro-style sour. The malt character is incredible, tossing in notes of coffee, cocoa, and dulce de leche, which are immediately counter-balanced by a lovely sour-balsamic flavor. Hops? There must be some in there, contributing a herbal bitterness, but it's hard to hear them over the blasting dual symphonies of the malts and the sours. This one's a thinker, loyal reader, best enjoyed in solitude in a fancy glass!
Almanac Beer Co Hoppy Sour Citra
Format Sampled: 12.68 oz capped bottle
Availability: Purchased at RSVP
Tasting Notes: Pours a cloudy yellow with a thin, bone white head. Aroma has cherry stems, wet wood, and balsamic vinegar. First sip is fresh, zesty and quite tart. The sourness is pure and forceful - sour cherry, grapefruit juice and white wine vinegar all pummel my tongue. After the sourness, lovely barrel characters show up - wet mahogany, cherry pit, and red wine. Vanilla and woody tannin round out the taste, and some flashes of oily citrus shine through like stars in an evening sky. Though it's refreshing, this beer has enough going on to warrant some silent contemplation.
Bear Bones Beer STILLIS
ABV: 6.3% ABV
Format Sampled: 16 oz can
Availability: Purchased at 7-11
Tasting Notes: Pours a pale yellow with a dense white head. Aroma has citrus zest, pine pollen and honey. The first sip is mildly tart. It's a subtle sourness - not even approaching lemonade level - more like the simple addition of several lemon slices to a glass of cold, crisp water. Almost in tandem with the gentle tartness, there's a modest hop bitterness. Coming so close together, these flavors reinforce, rather than interfere with each other. Herbs, spices and dried fruit combine to add dimensions to the bitter quality. These dried flavors blossom as the flavor develops, building into hints of melon, wildflower honey, and fresh orange slices. Both the sourness and hoppiness are individually less intense in the Stillis, but the ratio is nearly perfect. Bear Bones has come close to achieving a beer that's both tantalizing to the palate and supremely chuggable.