Monday, June 27, 2011

Bourbon Barrel Sour Cherry Porter Tasting

Bourbon, sour cherries, porter, and pie... can't go wrong.A strong dark beer isn't most people's ideal summer beverage, but tasting a dark sour seemed like a good excuse to drink down in my (now temperature controlled) barrel/bottle/fermentation room.  When I bought my house in 2009 I was hoping the basement would stay at a relatively moderate temperature during the summer, sadly now (well into my second summer here) I've come to accept that it needs a bit of help a few months of the year. So I installed a small A/C unit in the one window the room has.  I'll do a more complete post about it once I install additional insulation.

I posted a tasting of the straight version of our group's second bourbon barrel beer a month ago.  This portion of the batch sat on just under 1 lb of sour cherries per gallon for two months before bottling.  Audrey used the other bag of sour cherries I froze last summer to make a delicious cherry pie (great pairing).  I need to get down to the farmer's market before the sour cherries are gone for another year (or get serious and go to a pick-your-own orchard).

Bourbon Barrel Sour Cherry Porter

Appearance – Beautiful dark brown beer (the sad thing about adding cherries to a dark beer is that you don't see their color contribution). Pours with a two-finger tan head, which recedes slowly leaving some lacing behind.

Smell – Cherries, chocolate, slight oaky/bourbon, leather, touch of sourness. Complex, potent, really captivating aroma.

Taste – The sour cherries have a slightly cooked, but mainly fresh character. The sourness is well balanced, tart, not sharp or aggressive. The bourbon barrel porter flavors comes through in the finish, mocha roast, with well integrated barrel character.  The funk is minimal, but I wouldn't call it clean, just restrained.

Mouthfeel – Medium body, the sourness keeps it from seeming thick or stodgy. Moderate-low carbonation, just enough.

Drinkability & Notes – Couldn't be happier with the way this beer came out, the cherries lift the beer up adding complexity without getting in the way of the other flavors. Despite the heat the sourness keeps this drinkable.

Couldn't resist this shot of the sour cherry pie.


Jason said...

This brew looks fantastic and would kill for a bottle! ;)

I just bought a 2 pounds of sour cherries at my local farmers market and I'm debating what to use them for - your advice would be great!

1) Belgian dark strong (Noel). This was brewed in January and is currently sitting in secondary. This was brewed with 1 pound of dried cherries, cinnamon, nutmeg.

2) My flanders ale. I currently have two carboys one that I want to put cherries on at some point. These were brewed about 3 months ago and are still souring away with pellicles.

Should add them the Noel or add them now to the flanders? Perhaps I should freeze them and add them later at some point?

Thanks for your help!


The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I tend to like sour beers with cherries, i'd worry that too much cherry would make the Noel cough-syrupy. I'd freeze and wait to add them in ~6 months once the Flanders has a decent sourness. Good luck!

Ryan said...

Jeez that sounds good!

I'm yet to try a dark beer with cherries, but it's certainly on the cards for when the weather warms up a bit.

I recently did a cherry wheat using 2kg of cherries. Turned out nice. Not too sweet with a mild tartness.

Handsome Mike said...

I put together a porter recipe with the plans of doing something very similar with it, and found this post while I was researching. I am curious if there is anything that you would do different. I was thinking that a good approach might be to blend the porter with something like a cherry lambic or cherry wheat for better control.

The Mad Fermentationist (Mike) said...

I was very happy with the way this one turned out.It even made mini-BOS at the second round of the NHCs last year. Sadly I'm down to my last bottle now.

Blending is great for control, but unless you are killing the microbes in the sour (i.e, heat, chemical, filtration) they'll keep working on the dextrins in the porter. If you keg and drink it quickly it could work too, but I'd rather have something shelf stable.

Best of luck!