Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Cable Car Clone - First Tasting

My Cable Car clone has been the batch that has generated some of the most interest on the homebrew boards (including a surprising number of ISO requests). I was even told that that there was a rumor going around that it was better than the original Lost Abbey beer (before anyone else had even gotten a taste).
I have yet to open my bottle of the original, so I haven't found out just how far off I am yet. Eventually I'll post my tasting notes on it, but for the moment I am pretty pleased that the three batches and year plus of aging resulted in a highly drinkable, fruity, peppery sour ale.
The first picture is of my initial pour, the second is after the carbonation had a chance to kick the yeast back into suspension.
Tasting 4/15/09
Appearance – Perfectly clear golden body with racing carbonation piercing through it. The head pours big and creamy, but fades to a thin covering in about 5 minutes. Certainly one of the more attractive sours I have made. The second pour is a bit cloudier, but no less appealing.

Smell – Big peach-apricot nose at first whiff. Once it has a few minutes to breath I get a bit of damp oak and some biscuity malt notes as well, but the big fruit stays. Not much funkiness in the nose.

Taste – Moderate lemon/citrus like tartness takes the lead. It is balanced by a touch of residual sweetness that is again reminiscent of ripe stone fruit. I wonder if the stone fruit character is from the lager portion (lager yeast produce a bit of sulfur which is associated with stone fruit). The finish has a bit of rustic peppery saison quality to it. The second yeastier pour covers up some of the sourness and makes it taste more like a slightly sour Fantome-esque saison.

Mouthfeel – The heavy carbonation is really great in this beer. The body feels pretty light, but it is not chalky or super thin like many lambics end up.

Drinkability & Notes – A really well balanced, drinkable sour beer. It isn't quite as sour as I would have liked, but I can forgive that. I'll be interested to see if it picks up some more funk/complexity with a bit more time in the bottle.

If I had this to brew again I would probably add some funk to the saison portion at least going into primary. I would probably also combine the Biere de Garde and pale lager portions to make this a two thread instead of the three thread recipe (I just think there was any advantage on this scale to brewing the two lagers separately).


Dan said...

So when are we opening the real McCoy?

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Devin wants me to give him a hand with brewing a sour, we are planning on adding the dregs from my bottle of Cable Car and his bottle of RR Deviation. So when ever we can get our act together and brew I guess.

Seanywonton said...

I was looking at the original brewing post. Wow, that sounds like a labor intensive brew!

I couldn't find a commercial description but it looks liked a blend of 3 beers, soured in oak?

I had a chance to meet Tomme Arthur at Lost Abbey just this past weekend. He's a really cool guy! I'm going to do a blog post on our San Diego trip later tonight.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

Yeah, it was certainly a major effort/pain to brew and blend the three component batches. I wonder if you could just combine all the malt/spices/hops into one brew, and ferment half with saison yeast and half with lager yeast. (I may have to try that at some point)

Here is the post with all of the research I did to come to the recipe(s):

Tomme was a sport and helped fill me in on the ratio he used to blend the three beers.

geiger said...

This beer is pretty much the main reason you have the title of "Mad Fermentationist." Having had Cable Car, I'd say that your notes sound awfully similar to the original, and maybe with a mixture of Yellow Bus, another one of their unique sours (which I'd like to see you tackle as well).