Style: Single-Barrel Wild Rye Ale
From: Everett, MA
Bottled On: 2/7/14
Brewer’s Note: “Valentino is the celebration of our love for beautiful beer. Aged in a single brandy barrel for 17 months, he won our hearts and palates as a favorite amongst the brewery’s large barrel collection. He sips dry and tart, with rich, lingering notes of sour cherry, rye spice, and sweet, oaky brandy. Share him now, or sit him down for a future Valentine.”
The beer pours a rich, caramelized amber, sitting in the glass a deep ruby. A small scrim of light tan bubbles form with little to no retention. The beer’s body is hazy in the light, with slight cloudiness and very little of the other side of the glass coming through. On the nose, the beer smells richly complex, moving from malt vinegar, to light cherry pie and fruit leather, to richly complex oaken vanilla, to chocolate. As it opens, there even are hints of rum soaked raisins, subtle green apple and apple skins. The nose is not overpowering but is hugely complex. Bravo Night Shift. On the tongue, the beer tastes fruity sweet and fruity sour with a lovely tannic finish that dries out the sip a bit and adds nice structure. Slight acetone and solvent notes are also present (perhaps from the brandy barrel?), but are kept in check, adding further complexity. In flavor, the beer tastes of oak-filled sweet and sour sauce, in a good way… As it closes, the beer brings rich vanilla, oak, cherry pie, and a touch of hot solvent. Splashes of rich cherry syrup, and a bready woodiness also cross the middle and end of the sip. The aftertaste is slightly sticky sweet with soft tannic wood, as well as nice vanilla tinged oak. In the mouth, the beer feels medium in body, with a gelling syrupy mouthfeel, and soft carbonation. The acidity definitely gives a bit of a pucker and prickle to the mouth, and the tannic wood adds a touch of astringency that grips the mouth a bit too much. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left slightly astringent with a syrupy sweetness in the middle of the tongue. Overall, this is a richly complex and decadent oak aged wild ale. The solvent flavors are unfortunate, and I do wish I got more of a brandy character from the barrels, instead of just a touch of alcoholic heat. This is a great offering from Night Shift, and is probably the best non-American Weisse sour/wild ale that I’ve had from them. A rich and complex ale that already offers enough sourness and pucker for even the hardest of mouths. I hope they release more variants of this.