Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blackberry Flemish Red - Final Tasting

I always have a hard time bringing myself to open the last bottle of any beer I've brewed, but this bottle of Blackberry Flemish Red was harder than most since it was the last of the first batch of sour beer I brewed.  Sure, technically I still have a bottle of the same beer without blackberries that I'll be opening soon (but the version with fruit has always been superior). It seemed appropriate to get a picture of this beer next to the circa 1895 ginger beer bottle I bought last weekend while looking for a radiator at Community Forklift.

2006 seems like forever ago, but it also feels like I've been brewing sour beers for much longer than five years.  Since that fateful first batch I've brewed close to 50 more and in the process found a hobby (and niche) that I love. In that time brewing has taught me a lot more than just how to brew, but that discussion will have to wait for its own post.

Blackberry Flemish Red next to a Pitt & Norrish Ltd bottle.Blackberry RodenTons

Appearance – The red/brown body has just a hint of the purple it had in its youth. It has a slight haze despite serving at cellar temp. The thin off-white head quickly dissipates to a ring circling the edge of the glass.

Smell – The aroma is still remarkably fresh with notes of citrus, cherry/berry, damp oak, and faint caramel malt. There is a low-level floral character that I associate with age, but no cardboard oxidation. It will be interesting to see if the part of the batch without blackberries fared as well (fruit contributes powerful anti-oxidants that delay staling).

Taste – It had been long enough since I opened a bottle of this that I couldn't remember exactly how it tasted; the first sip brought me back. The sourness is quick and sharp upfront (still seems predominantly citric/malic from the fruit rather than lactic from the bugs) followed by a touch of acetic on the swallow. The fruity/funky Brett adds a great deal of complexity. The blackberries mingle with the balsamic character of the sourness to provide a great deal of depth to the natural fruit character of the beer without overwhelming the other flavors. Good balance, with a slight sweetness still hanging on.  The finish has a slightly strange, although not unpleasant, vanilla-oak character that I don't remember.

Mouthfeel – Medium body with vibrant carbonation. A bit more sparkle than I usually aim for, but I'd say it is still under 3 volumes and has been remained stable.

Drinkability & Notes – Glad the beer in this bottle survived the heat of the last few summers down in DC with me. Sorry to see this batch gone, but I think it is better to open it now to enjoy rather than holding onto it until after it ages too much.

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