Barrel Brothers Morello Barrel Aged Sour 5/3/21
Hi everyone! Sorry about the gap in reviews. Life has been hectic between the many aspects that rotate through every day, and I've slacked on my NA fans and news of some of the tastings I've had. I'll make it up to you throughout the next couple of weeks.
Today, I want to focus on a beer style I've been waiting to try, and finally had the opportunity. A barrel aged sour non alcoholic offering. Those of you that know me well know that sour beers were my jam. On facebook, there's a whole page I started with my close friend Gil years and years ago dedicated to Sour Beers (called just that), with pictures and words about some of the more rare beers we could get our hands on. So naturally, as I embark on a journey with NA beers, I was excited when I saw this particular can.
To say it didn't disappoint is an understatement. A huge understatement. My first thought was "I'd put this up against any kriek out there," before Lou Pepe and Drie Fontenien slapped my memory around a bit. But I stand by the idea that it's as good as most that I've had. It's complexity, sourness, and barrel characteristics were on par with any kriek I've had that contains alcohol. Nothing was stripped from it's flavor in my opinion. There must be something in the water up in Sonoma Valley, because their neighbors make a couple of decent sours over at Russian River. (And yes, that's meant to be very tongue in cheek. Vinnie is in a class reserved for very few brewers in my mind).
To the beer: It poured a dark brown with beautiful deep red edges in the light. It's base beer is a sour brown ale that was barrel aged for 3 years, sampled and only pulled from 4 barrels, which were blended and conditioned further on 1 lb of cherries per gallon of base beer (that's over 200 lbs of cherries, according to my calculations). After this, they use a process called vacuum distilling, which pulls the alcohol out, but leaves a lot of the complexity and flavor that other methods of removing alcohol tend to scrub out of the final product. At the end of the day, it made for a clearly labor intensive, wonderful addition to the NA catalog.
I'd wondered how someone would achieve this style with depth of flavor and no alcohol, as simply barrel resting the liquid adds alcohol, and a very light base beer is going to take on unwanted flavors due to it's lack of defenses. Vacuum distilling seems to be the answer here, and being the first brewery I've tried that uses this process, I'm excited to try others both by them and other breweries that are utilizing this method. I highly recommend trying this, and as of now, it's available on the Bitter Brothers site to ship out.
Until next week, I hope you're all doing well. Happy May the 4thing, Cinco de Mayoing, and Mothering your days as this week rolls along. Cheers!