Nancy (Allagash Brewing Company)

Style: American Wild Ale fermented with Cherries

6.3% ABV

Brewery’s Note: “Nancy is a sour red ale fermented with Maine cherries and Brettanomyces in 100% stainless, for just shy of a year. The cherries were a blend of Balaton and Montmorrency and added at a rate of 2lbs per gallon. Copper in color, Nancy has an aroma of cherries, bread crust and a touch of cinnamon. The flavor is a medley of tart cherry, citrus and pie spice. The finish is dry with a lingering tartness.”

The beer pours a pale peach color, with hints of rose and a lovely, creamy white head of perfectly uniform bubbles. The beer pulls a constant stream of carb from all parts of its body as it sits in the glass, constantly changing the bottom layer of the head, like ants around and ant hill. The beer is crystal clear and clean in body, with just a slight disfiguring of the other side of the glass from the darkening that the fruit gives it. It’s pretty in the glass, and holds its head well. On the nose, it smells of chlorinated pool water mixed with light cherries. Further sniffs reveal complex brett notes that tango between horsey, hay-like, and rich fruity character running the gambit from pineapple to cherry pie. The cherry is obviously the star fruit in the nose, but it is nuanced and complex, blending in with the fruitier brett notes in a nice musk while the end of the sniff is sharpened with pool water in a not-all-together displeasing fashion. On the tongue, the beer tastes sweet and tart, traveling into acidic. The tartness builds into a solid pucker with the finish, blending in with subtle herbal bitters (fruit skins?). The initial impression of fruity sweetness dries into a complex tussle between tartness and straight acidity. In flavor, there are tart cherries in the initial sip, which blend with subtle farmhouse funk, brackish pool water and then a fruity cherry sense that almost seems to ghost the middle and finish of the sip as the tongue recovers from the initial tart punch. This is not an aggressively sour beer, but the tartness is a little too dominant for the subtle nuances of the rest of the beer. As I drink more, I pick up herbal fruit notes on the sides of the mouth, which is where a lot of the flavor seems to be coming from. In the mouth, the beer feels medium to thin in body with ample carbonation. The beer is a little abrasive and puckering on the tongue, taking its acidity and the carbonation together to scrape the tongue as it passes over. The mouth is left pouring with spittle, while the tip of the tongue recovers from its acidic bite, and the sides grow numb. Overall, this is a nice little funky fruited ale, but is a little too aggressive in its acidity. If that toned itself back, I can sense tons of subtle fruit characteristics trying to come through on the taste buds. Admittedly my bottle is a couple months old, but I was under the impression that this was just a brett spiked ale (no other bugs) which has me curious as to where the harsher acidity is coming from? As it warms, the acidity steps off a little, and I must admit that it is not a ‘deathly acidity,’ but just a stronger bite than the rest of the beer needs. Perhaps it’s just some really sour cherries? Whatever it is, it doesn’t ruin the beer, it just gives me something to nitpick. This is a nice little wild ale, leaning more towards sour-fruit-beer than funky-fruit-beer. Allagash has built a great little series of one offs that utilize fruit, wild yeasts, barrels, and so much more. They may already be a well-established brewery, but sometimes I forget about them for some reason. This is one to drink now, but definitely worth a try.

 

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