Almanac: Farm To Barrel: Farmer’s Reserve Strawberry (USA: Sour Ale: 7% ABV)
Visual: Hazy yellow to apricot and very cloudy. Thin short lived white dash of a head.
Nose: Musty. Slightly stale white bread. Oatmeal or maybe muesli mix. Squeezed lime. Mild gingerbread. Stewed apricot and cake sponge.
Body: Tart. Lemon juice. Oaken. Acidic apple. Faint strawberry that is somewhat more evident as it warms. Cake sponge. White wine. Squeezed lime. Vanilla toffee.
Finish: Soft strawberry. Acidic apple. Rustic in a saison like way. Lemon. Light chalk. White wine as it warms, along with lime and vanilla toffee.
Conclusion: Ok, strawberry sour. I had heard of a few, or maybe just one, strawberry lambic before, but never managed to get my hands on it. So this is my first strawberry sour experience. And it is!… not exactly whelming shall we say. Can you just say whelming? Not sure. Anyway. Possibly I started it off too cool, as I have found warming it does help. Let me go into a bit more detail and I shall explain.
Cool it is a bit musty, empty and mainly acidic apple dominated. Kind of like a sub standard cider, and since I am in west country I have access to a lot of actually good cider. At this point it didn’t do much, it refreshed with its acidity but that was it.
As it warms a kind of cake sponge feel and taste come out, still acidic, but a more robust and stable base and that seems to give some grip to the other flavours. Not so much the strawberry unfortunately, I’ve seen it rise up a few times as it warms but it always seems to vanish again quickly. The strawberry really isn’t a dominant element of this beer, possibly why it is not a common addition to sours. Maybe.
At its base it seems always a sour apple, lemon and lime, well, sour beer – with white wine companionship in some of the oak notes. It has quite a few good side notes – from vanilla toffee to rustic saison style, but none are reliable enough to make this a consistently good beer. It can seem slightly simple and empty in the middle, with the best elements top and tail.
Not that bad, but not on the better end of the sours. It feels a bit of a let down. Ah well, back to Listening to New Model Army – “I Love The World”
Background: A break in the whisky tasting notes so my beer fan readers don’t get bored. Don’t worry, more whisky is coming very soon. I don’t know if “Farm To Barrel” is part of the name, or just a take on their “farm to bottle” slogan. I included it just in case. Anyway a sour ale, packed with strawberries and aged in a wine barrel. Sounded fun. Drunk while listening to one of New Model Army’s live albums. If you get a chance to see them live they are great.