So, I have to say that, in my rather limited experience with sour ales, I’ve found the results to be especially satisfying. These beers are a very specific kind of brew that generally follows a set formula:
-fermented with an organism other than traditional yeast
-a blend of older, oak-aged beer with a younger specimen to combine aged sourness with young sweetness
-red or brown coloring from specialty malts
-strong fruity and floral aromas and flavors that overwhelm the beer’s natural hoppiness
Now, by and large, sour ales are considered a Belgian specialty. I for one had always invested in Belgian sours and Flemish reds. I have one more with intent to review in the fridge right now, actually.
The real story, though, is, on a whim, while I was placing an order at Bruisin Ales, I swapped out a duplicate Flemish red for a Norwegian sour as recommended by their proprietor. How was it? I’m not even going to tease. I loved it, and here’s a massive shot of it so you can see what I got. Haandbakk by Haand Bryggeriet. An Oud Bruin (Flanders brown) ale. Delicious vitals after the jump.
The appearance of the beer is very appealing. It has a deep reddish brown color but a pure translucency. There’s very little cloudiness, which lends it a bright red luminosity in the light. The head retention is decent, but it’s not enough to let the beer truly develop in the glass. Once it’s there, the aromas will begin escaping, so you better enjoy it quickly.
The nose of the beer is almost purely sour fruit, with green apple and sour cherry. There’s almost no beer smell to it. The unusual preparation lends it an almost dusty, earthy aroma.
The mouth feel of the beer matches the flavor profile very well. It’s actively acidic and carbonated, accenting the sourness while adding structure to the perceived sweetness.
The flavor of the beer is very brisk and very sour. It has hints of herbs and grass, though it’s largely a fruit affair. Apple, cherry candy, almost like a Jolly Rancher. The hops come through on the finish with a hint of dark chocolate. The alcohol, at 8%, is nonexistent on the flavor.
For the Casual Drinker:
This doesn’t even remotely approach the typical flavor of a beer. The response I got from someone not expecting a sour ale said quite plainly that it smelled rotten. The fruits are pungent and, quite frankly, a trifle dusty, overwhelming a surprised palate. You have to go into this expecting anything but a typical beer.
Want a unique experience? This certainly qualifies. It’s a bit expensive at $11 for just over a pint, making it on par with those $40 to $50 bottles of juice you always bypass at the wine shop. Special occasion beer? Absolutely, but I recommend getting a bottle to try before you stock the fridge for New Years. 8/10
In Case You Missed It:
Producer: Haand Bryggeriet
Price: $11 / 16.9 oz