Posts Tagged sour

I Have a Confession…

Taking a little break from our trip through Ohio, let’s check out a place a little closer to home. In another beachside town north of San Diego, I stopped by yet another mall with all kinds of stores, fancy and not-so-fancy alike all nestled by the beach. Among those stores and mere steps from the sand, there was a tasting room from The Lost Abbey called The Confessional. This was a very unique tasting room, with lots of dark colors and unfinished wood. A roll up door to the right looked out onto the promenade and an L-shaped tasting bar stood straight ahead. Carved trees to the right gave the impression of a holding area for Rose Parade floats, but a semi-circular bar around the trees was enough to distract me from caring. There were also small booths to the right and small tables in front. Chandeliers that looked like real candles helped complete the churchy vibe they were going for.

Lost Abbey The Confessional
To fully experience the place, I decided to go with a flight; not just any flight, but the Rare Beer Flight, which came in two parts. 

Lost Abbey Rare Flight 1The first part started with the Framboise De Amborosa wine barrel-aged sour ale with raspberries (7% abv): The first one poured dark cloudy amber with soapy white head. It smelled tart, with lots of berry fruitiness and a spicy raisin aroma. The taste was mild at first, with heavy sourness following and a bit of bitterness into the middle. With a light body and light-medium carbonation, this drink finished tart and sour, with a nice little malty spice on the end.

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Next up on deck was the Duck Duck Gooze red wine barrel-aged Gueuze (7% abv): This one poured rich golden with light white head. Mild and slightly sour aromas distinguished themselves most, with virtually no fruitiness, despite being typical of the style. It tasted slightly sweet, with some light grape flavor and a little tartness into the middle. Light in both body and carbonation, this beer finished somewhat tart with a light wine flavor trailing. A little too one-dimensional for me.

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Closing out the first half of the flight was the Sanyo Ron Diego rum barrel-aged strong ale with spices (12.5%): This beast poured dark red-amber in color and slightly cloudy, with thin white head. It smelled VERY alcoholic, with a little spiciness and a touch of dark fruits. The tastes was quite boozy, with a little spiced raisin and heavy rum flavor. A little brown sugar and maybe a touch of maple revealed themselves going into the middle. Light-bodied and lightly carbonated, the drink finished equally boozy, with overpowering rum alcohol warmth trailing. A little too heavy on the alcohol for me.

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Lost Abbey Rare Flight 2After recovering from that last blast of booziness, I staggered (not really) to the bar and ordered the second half of the flight. It began with Red Poppy wine barrel-aged sour ale with sour cherries (5%): This one poured bright, rich red, with thin loose head. It smelled mild and sweet, with noticeable cherry aroma and some maltiness. The taste was somehow both rich and mild. There was some maltiness before cherries kicked in and a little hoppiness into the middle. Light body and light-medium carbonation lead to a sweet finish. I enjoyed how dynamic this one was, not to mention the reprieve from the higher abv of the previous beers.

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As it tends to do, fate heard my relief and squashed it with Agave Maria tequila barrel-aged strong ale with agave (13.5. %): This behemoth poured a cloudy light brown-red color with loose off white head. The aroma was malty sweet with a slight sour tequila punch. It tasted malty sweet and a little sour. A touch of dark fruit and some warm alcohol followed into the middle. Medium in body and light in carbonation, this beer finished rich, with the malts and sweetness returning and the alcohol lingering. I enjoyed this one, as it didn’t have the alcoholic punch of the Sanyo Ron Diego.

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Rounding out this team of all-stars, the Cuvée de Tomme wine barrel-aged sour ale with sour cherries (11%): The last beer of the flight poured dark red like wine, with loose tan head. It smelled of tart grapes and cherries. The taste was also tart, with cherry sweetness up front. Some booziness followed, with some sourness into the middle. Light-medium body and lightly carbonated, this one finished boozy, with a little stickiness from the cherry sweetness. Not a strong finish, but tasty enough.

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All in all, I definitely enjoyed my trip around the world of rare beer offered by Lost Abbey. I got to try some styles I would not normally have otherwise and the ambiance of the place was definitely something to behold.

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History in Brewing

Carillon Brewing OutsideAmong the many sights and features around Dayton, we stopped by a museum that housed a working brewery. This was not just any brewery, though. Situated in picturesque Carillon Historical Park, Carillon Brewing Co. was a brick building that resembled an old factory. It actually reminded me of an old firehouse. The only fires involved in this place, however, were the ones used to prepare ingredients for completely house made beer, bread and cheese.

Carillon was a brewery dedicated to brewing both in the style and method of the 1850s. A few volunteers, among regular paid staff, dressed in period costumes and did most of the brewing and baking. All brick and wood, the main room was absolutely cavernous. The bakery and brewing area were directly in front of the door, separated from the rest of the brewery by a ring of barrels. There was a large fireplace surrounded by a bunch of wooden winches, shelving and paddles. The brewing area was up a flight of stairs above the brick oven, with a copper-banded wood barrel. Beyond the baking/brewing area was a full bar. The large seating area was full of hand-planed tables and chairs. There was also an upstairs, loft-like seating area that ringed the main floor. All the history in this place made me hardly able to wait to try their beer.

Carillon Brewing Collage
I ordered a flight, included in which they had several cask beers. Our server warned us that all of their cask beers were served in the 1850s style, which was to say, “flat and warm.” Being an open minded fellow, I decided I could deal with that and started with the Sour Porter. This one poured dark brown amber with no noticeable head. There was a definite sourness on the smell, with some chocolate as well. The taste was very sour at first. A touch of roasty chocolate flavor followed into a very mild middle. Light body and no carbonation lead to a mild and sour finish, with only faint chocolate trailing.

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Next came the Coriander Ale. It poured cloudy orange with no head. It smelled rich and sweet, with a touch of spice. The taste was full of sweet spiciness that reminded me of pumpkin pie spice. The middle was very mild without much change from the beginning. The middle was also vegetal, like bitter squash-like flavor. Light-bodied and lightly carbonated, it finished light with slight spice notes.

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Carillon Brewing Flight

Third, I tried the Irish Red Ale. This one poured cloudy brown, like a cider. Like the previous two, it poured with no head. Aromas of brown sugar, plums and spice got me excited for this drink. I was surprised that it seemed to be more carbonated than the others. It tasted very mild; so mild it didn’t taste like much of anything. The middle was equally mild, with light body and light carbonation. It finished with not much taste, other than a touch of sweetness. A little underwhelming from the promise of the aromas.

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Last, and the one I thought would be most interesting of the bunch, the Squash Ale. It poured rich clear amber with no head. Almost no aroma came from the drink, other than a little spiciness. It tasted sour at first, almost like a cider. There were some spices and a touch of vegetable-like bitterness. Light body and no carbonation lead to a smooth, light finish, with a touch of bitterness trailing. For whatever reason, I expected more from this one. Interesting concept, though.

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I very much enjoyed visiting this brewery. I also appreciated all the hard work both the volunteers and the employees put into keeping alive the traditional brewing techniques and use of handmade equipment.

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Mermaid Sighting!

Coronado Collage

I recently took a trip to Coronado “Island,” though technically it is classified as a tied island, connected to the mainland by a thin strip of land called a trombolo. For the purposes of this visit, however, I will continue calling it an island. It is a beautiful place, with lots of beaches and the ever-present shopping areas. One of the shopping areas houses the main brewery and restaurant location for Coronado Brewing. A friend told me this was basically a fancy-looking Coco’s. Despite what I had heard about this place, I had to try it. “When in Rome,” as they say…

Coronado Brewing Pano

The general theme of the place seemed to be a mix of old world industrial and Caribbean plantation. It is a big place, with brick on the outside and lots of wood copper, stained glass and more brick on the inside. There were big wooden plantation-style shutters on the windows, slate tile on the floor and a tin roof. It was very much a working brewery-restaurant, with the brewing operation out back. In fact, I passed by it on my way to the rather inconveniently located restrooms.

Coronado Brew Pub

Which, appropriately enough, brings us to the beer. I decided on a sampler, as I am prone to doing at places I have never been before. I tried to cover the spectrum, light to dark, refreshing to filling, with one thrown in for interest.

My sampler began with the Maidens Altbier. It poured dark amber with white head that slowly slid down the sides of the glass, but left nothing behind. It smelled malty sweet, with hints of plum and raisin. Dark fruit flavors brought a malty sweet taste to the front that was quite mild. Medium in both carbonation and body, it had a malty middle that faded into a somewhat bitter finish. I liked this one, but would have preferred a tad more complexity.

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Next came what I thought would be the most interesting of the lineup: the Lime Light. This one poured very pale yellow with tiny bubbles and head that clung to the glass. The second I put my nose over the glass for a whiff, all I could smell was the very strong lime aroma. Strong though it was, it did smell fresh. The taste was very mild, with some grassy flavors and a whole lot of lime. I could detect virtually no carbonation and it went down very light. Light flower notes came out toward the middle, with more grass and lime flavors carrying through to the finish. Much like the chile experience I had in New Mexico, this just was not my cup of tea…or beer.

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Coronado Flight

I thought a good way to transition from the strong flavor of lime from that last taster would be to have a sour, so I tried the Second Chance Sour. It poured very pale yellow, though slightly darker than the Lime Light. On top was a cap of creamy white head. Grassiness and sour aromas were all that rose from the glass. The taste was very tart, almost puckeringly so. That same sourness pretty much dominated the entire drink from beginning to end. I’m a bit of a sucker for sour beers, so I did not mind.

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Next up was the Stingray Point IPA. This one poured a rich golden color with fine white head. Lots of bubbles made this drink look quite lively. It smelled flowery sweet, with a bit of maltiness to back it up. The taste was much the same, with hoppy flowers, followed by a malty undertone. It finished mildly hoppy without much else to complicate it. A simple IPA.

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I finished heavy with the Export Stout. It poured dark brown, with tan head that stuck around for a long time. It smelled light for a stout with definite coffee and chocolate notes. The taste was super malty, with bitter chocolaty flavors. It mellowed through the middle, finishing back with the malts, bittersweet chocolate flavors and coffee underneath.

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Overall, a good trip to Coronado. I do not agree with the Coco’s assessment, however. I thought the setup and decor of the place made it a unique and fun place to visit. Even so, I wish this selection of lesser-known beers from a brewery I really like had been better.

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Expose THIS to Your Taste Buds

Ninkasi Expo 58I started seeing this beer from Ninkasi a few months ago and I thought, “Hmm, I love the brewery…I haven’t had this one from them…” Then I came to the realization, “I should try this!” And so it was that Ninkasi Expo 58 Belgian-Style Golden Pale Ale came into my possession.

It poured a fizzy clear pale yellow color with foamy head that left loose lace that slid down the sides of the glass easily. Yeasty and sour aromas mark this beer as definitely a member of the Belgian family. There was also some malty sweetness at the end. It tasted very yeasty and bright, with light body and mouthfeel. The Ninkasi Expo 58 topcarbonation was refreshing and light. Some sourness came on toward the middle, with some tangy lemon flavors afterward. It finished with the same yeastiness.

This was a refreshing, tasty beer to start the spring season.

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Belgian Randomness

IMG_2045 copyI saw this beer and had to try it. Generally speaking, Stone Brewing does not bring to mind a whole bunch of creativity in their brewing. Self-marketing, a lot of hops and some more self-marketing, perhaps, but when I see a quad on the shelf, I can’t help myself.

This brew’s name is a shout to randomness, perhaps in what they see as a departure from their normal brewing style. More likely, it is probably a reference to the fact that they included triticale, a kind of wheat-rye hybrid, into a brew traditionally made sans both wheat or rye. Stone’s Stochasticity Project (pretty slick site, too) consists of a collection of three beers: two Belgian trappist ales and a double IPA.

Quadrotriticale is the booziest of the bunch, at a whopping 9.3% abv. It pours a clear deep, reddish-brown color, with white head. The came with a maltiness and, as expected, a sour smell due to the type of fermentation used in brewing Belgian ales. These beers use what is called spontaneous fermentation, which is beer exposed open air to allow the yeast and bacteria essentially infect the beer. This is what gives this style of beer its characteristic sour taste, as well. Definitely an acquired taste for some, I enjoy it.

quad_foamThe taste was not as I expected. As I mentioned, Belgian ales are usually fairly sour tasting, but quads are far richer than their dubbel and tripel counterparts. The sourness was the first thing I tasted, followed by a richness that the deep dark color gave away at the top. The next thing to come through was the alcohol. The warmth was a very nice way to mute the sourness and made me forget for a second I was drinking a Belgian beer. The sweetness was the last thing I tasted, before the sourness came back on the aftertaste.

I enjoyed this beer. Overall, I would rate this beer:

5

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