New England Red (Trillium Brewing Company)

Style: American Flanders-Style Red

7.2% ABV

From: Boston, MA

Brewer’s Note: “New England style Flemish Red aged in sherry casks.”

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The beer pours, like high grade maple syrup, a light, pale amber, and sits with a nice ruby tint to it. The beer forms a thin head of tiny, sand-dune white bubbles above the beer. The body is clean and clear, but with a nice haze, but also a definite translucence. On the nose, the beer smells soft and subtle, blending sweet caramel, oak, and sherry with faint cherry, leather, and even fainter barnyard. The sherry cask is quite prominent, and gives the nose a sweeter, oaky sherry tinge that had my girlfriend thinking barleywine.  As it warms, I get hints of roast chocolate and grass. On the tongue, the beer tastes of soft acidity in the front and very finish of the beer, with a malty and fruity sweetness throughout. The middle and finish also introduce sticky amounts of oaky tannins with an herbal bitterness and soft astringency on the finish. In flavor, the beer begins as sweet cherries that blend with leather and prickly barnyard. A soft grassiness moves in to the middle of the sip, but that is then buried in thick, oak-soaked sherry, caramel malt, and definite herbal tannins that dry out the back of the palate. This dryness is off-centered by a burst of fruit in the finish, which blends cherries, blackberries, and a hint of strawberries, though the sherry notes are still very prominent. The aftertaste tastes softly of oak planks. In the mouth, the beer feels medium bodied, with a slightly prickly carbonation, a lightly syrupy mouthfeel, and definite tannic astringency on the finish that fights with the fruitiness to dry out the palate. After the beer leaves, the mouth is left with a sheen of saliva blanketing the tongue, reminding us that this beer definitely had some acidity in it, which can be forgotten given the large swath of complexity that moves in the taste. The roof of the mouth is left rather dry and slightly sticky. Overall, I’m a little conflicted with this beer. It is very good, don’t get me wrong, but it is subtle in terms of acidity and funk, and heavy in terms of sherry and oak. It is a great beer in terms of incorporating the barrel character, and it has some great complexities, but in terms of a “Flemish Red” style the beer is lacking in acidity and funk. I like this beer, but I wish it had more funk. Perhaps age will add that? This beer is great as its own unique style, but not as much in terms of what I want for a Flanders Red-style.

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