Sundays really are the best day of the week aren't they? There is a natural deflation to the stress balloon we all carry around during the week. BBQ's, football, beer, and extravagant brunches with Champagne are all exquisite aspects to Sunday. It's the only day of the week where people feel it's REALLY okay to crack a beer with that first game at 10 am. I let out a deep sigh and smile my biggest smile of the week on Sundays. It's not called the day of rest for no reason. Viva Sunday! So, this month I will be changing my beloved "Sunday Funday" motto for one of a more Belgian-esque variety. Every Sunday in May, I will be drinking either Saisons or Sours (i.e. think gueuze and other lambics) or both! Thus my motto becomes Saison Sunday or Sour Sunday! If you are able, please join me in this adventure and tell me about what Saisons or Sours you are drinking each Sunday.
Now, on to the beers. P.S. From here onward, the beers will be listed in descending order, in a countdown style:
Lost Abbey Carnevale (Saison) 6.5% ABV: One of my favorite Saison-style beers out there. Apricot, peach, tree fruit, lemongrass, clove, spice, nut, and hay all come jumping out of the glass amongst a funky, yeasty bread dough background. It is a glorious combination of aromas and flavors. And although I have tasted this beer several times before, I picked up a new aspect this time I never perceived before. There is a hint of minerality here I found happily surprising. Think fresh air, mountain rock type of minerality. Not super lean like a French Chablis or dry Chenin Blanc, but it's there. Well done Lost Abbey!
Ommegang Hennepin (Saison) 6.7% ABV: A classic in its category, I intentionally wanted to drink this alongside another Saison to really get in there and look at nuances that might get lost if tasted in isolation. I have always loved Hennepin, and spent many a warm day drinking this at a BBQ or taking a break from the heat in a cool pub. Refreshing and crisp, with notes of citrus, apricot, pepper, and a touch of spice, this beer is everything nice.
And I am supremely pleased with the pairing of Hennepin and Carnevale. My first reaction after going back to the Hennepin after Carnevale, was Wow! A lovely perfume! Against the more intense aromatic notes of the Lost Abbey, the Ommegang had a beautiful and delicate nose of white flower and grapefruit honey. (There is indeed such a thing as grapefruit honey, and it is marvelous. If you live in San Diego, go to the OB Farmer's Market and find the couple that makes the incredible varieties of honey, and get the grapefruit, blackberry, and wildflower types. They are amazing.)
This is the magic of tasting beers of a particular style in a condensed unit. You find incredible aspects you might have missed before. Love it! I highly recommend both of these beers for your Spring and Summer beer lovin' activities.
New Belgium Eric's Ale: 7% ABV: This beer doesn't technically fall into the Belgian-style category, but I wanted to share it with you nonetheless. After all, it IS Sour Sunday! Classified on Beer Advocate as an American Wild Ale and referred to as simply a sour on New Belgium's website, Eric's Ale doesn't fit in here, but might just find its way into another challenge in the future....
Light, clear golden brown color. Nice apple cider, acetic aromas mingled with refreshing citrus and peach notes on both the nose and palate. As it turns out, unbeknownst to me at the time, Eric's is refermented with peach juice. Score one for Laurie's nose! Fairly mild sour flavors on the palate with a hint of nuttiness on the finish. This is what you might call a "Session Sour." I first tasted this at Dark Lord Day, and it stood out nicely amongst the many stouts of the day. In fact, it was one of my wake-up beers of the morning, and it was exactly what this girl needed at 10am. Would definitely drink this beer again.
New Belgium Lips of Faith Transatlantique Kriek (Fruit Lambic) 8% ABV: This spontaneously fermented lambic ale is half-Belgian half-American. It is truly a meeting of the minds, as it was produced in conjunction with the famous Boon Brewery in Belgium. Using Polish cherries (I've never had one of those!), the beer was aged in oak for two years at Boon, and then shipped across the great Atlantic to New Belgium's own brewmaster Peter Bouckaert.
A light reddish color with glints of amber. A delicate nose of sour and sweet cherry, a hint of cranberry, and red flower blossom. The oak is gentle but present. This is a rather subdued version of kriek. While it was an easy drinker, and perhaps a good beer to introduce someone into the kriek style, I was left wanting more. More cherry sourness, more punch to the palate. If you want a fantastic sour from New Belgium, go for the La Folie. It is superb!