Almanac Farmers Reserve Blackberry Ale: This is a sour blonde ale that is infused with blackberries, aged in wine barrels and brewed to a strength of 7% abv. They use a blend of American and Belgian wild yeasts and a sourdough starter to ferment the beer in multiple barrels, eventually blending it together before bottling it. My bottle was simply dated with the year 2015 and is likely a fairly fresh bottle; one that will develop nicely in the right storage conditions but I wanted to try it now!
Aroma and Appearance: It pours a copper pink colour with one finger of rapidly dissipating foam and some sporadic bubbles in the glass. Its aroma is full of oak, grape must, tart blackberries, a bit of apple cider vinegar, pears and whiffs of buttery chardonnay wine.
Flavour: Wow this packs a sour punch up front, it has an overly puckering blackberry tartness to start that’s quite face clenching before it mellows into pears and a less intimidating lemon sourness. In the middle the oak appears, with notes of white grape juice, apricots and apple cider vinegar, finally finishing with a savoury tannic blackberry finish, that’s dry, salivating and ridiculously satisfying.
Overall Impression: I was extremely impressed with this beer as it hits you with some massive sour notes up front, but doesn’t blow your palate away. It kindly leaves room for some of the finer flavours after the huge sour notes allowing you to fully explore the fruity esters from the yeasts. They are on my “buy on sight” list now!
Rating: Outstanding at 9.5/10, one of the best sour beers I’ve had by far and I felt that they knocked it out the park with this one.
Food Pairing: Would go great with some fatty meat like duck or pork belly since the sour blackberries would cut into the fat nicely and the tartness would contrast the meat perfectly.
Be sure to check out their Facebook page, here’s an old post from 2013 showing them putting some blackberries into the barrels. Likely this was last year’s batch, but who knows maybe a few of those barrels made it into this year’s blend.