Tonight seemed like a good one for the final of the four tasting from the first pull of our apple brandy barrel aged solera (previous tastings: plain - hops - spice). For this version Nathan and I aged five gallons of the sour beer on lots of blackberries, and a little mulberry. Back in late-2010 before we had a chance to fill it, the barrel spent a month empty (other than a gallon of beer at the bottom...) and as a result has a relatively sizable resident population of airborne oxygen-loving Acetobacter. The result is that all the beers from the first pull are sharply sour, although luckily within a range I still enjoy drinking them.
Apple Brandy Solera - Fruit
Appearance – Brilliantly clear, ruby-magenta-purple body. Very pretty looking contribution from the fruit. The head is thin and white, with poor retention.
Smell –The nose has lots of blackberry, jammy, with a noticeable acetic component. Luckily it has not ventured into the ethyl acetate, nail polish remover, side of things. It is a bright/sharp nose without earthy balance.
Taste – The flavor isn’t as sharp as the nose suggested, juicy berries, firm acidity, and a hint of sweetness. There is a tickle of acetic acid on the back of the throat, but no more than most Flemish reds. There isn’t much contribution from the Brett (East Coast Yeast Bugfarm IV), the fruit and acid dominate. Not sure if it is the barrel, or the combination of flavors, but there is an apple-cidery note as well.
Mouthfeel – Bright, snappy but not thin or watery. The body does a good job supporting the bold flavors. The carbonation is moderate, about right.
Drinkability & Notes – I’ll call this a fine sour-fruit beer, but not my best effort. The acetic is higher than I’d prefer (a valuable if painful lesson), and that keeps it from being a really terrific beer. Drinkable to a point, but it doesn’t have a flavor that calls for me to refill my glass.