My Blueberry Nightmare (Birrificio Del Ducato)

Style: Sour Stout aged in Whiskey barrels with blueberries
and hot chili

9.4% ABV

Batch #3

Brewery’s Note: “A special one time creation that truly lives up to its name. The base is a Stout brewed with hot chili peppers that has been aged for almost 2 years with blueberries & pediococcus./It is opaque black in color with just a touch of carbonation. Quite acidic & tart along with very intense flavors and aromas. The nightmare is sure to leave a lasting memory.”

Distributor’s Note: “An extension of Birrificio Del Ducato’s Verdi Imperial Stout – My Blueberry Nightmare is a stout brewed with hot chili, then aged for 2 years in oak barrels with blueberries.”

The beer pours out as flat, black wine with just a soft fizzle of scrim bubbles, which could be from the pour, or could be hiding within the brown-black liquid that lurks in the glass. The beer is the color of black coffee, with just the slightest chocolatey hint to suggest that it is not pure black. It’s entirely opaque in body, hiding nightmares, blueberries, and hot chilies behind its curtain of mystery. On the nose, the beer smells of rich, oaky booze and vinegar, tinted with a slight sweetness that could be berries, and it could be chocolate. I don’t really sense the chili on the nose, but there is a vegetal mustiness that lurks within the rich oaky scent and could be the chilies… maybe. On the tongue, the beer tastes of a sweet fruitiness that blends with a rich, vinegary acidity. The middle of the sip sends spicy heat to tingle up the nose, yet never really burns the mouth, which is fascinating, and the finish of the beer blends sticky, slightly bitter tannins, with a touch of musty roast that lingers and blossoms in the mouth, providing endless turns of complexity. For the crazy components in this beer, it is a very well structured taste, with a dominant acetic character throughout, a touch of berry and dark fruit acidity, a balancing, yet never dominant sweetness, and just the right finish of subtle bitters. In flavor, this is balsamic vinegar blended with malt vinegar, wrapped in smooth, musty oak that lovingly unfurls on the tongue with just a hint of whiskey. The middle finish is where the slightly spicy tingle of the peppers can be sensed, but this is still a side show to the rich vinegar flavors, which blend in hints of berry and red wine. The finish and aftertaste give loving puffs of smoky oak, and roasted malts, along with just a hint of malt vinegar. In the mouth, this beer feel practically flat, with perhaps just the barest hint of a skittering of carbonation. It’s medium bodied, and silky smooth and slick, though the chili does add a tingle of heat, and the oak tannin tightens the tongue to give the finish a little structure. When the beer leaves, the mouth is left surprisingly neutral, with a thin sheen over the tongue, some spittle on the lower gum line, and a feeling of slight tightness throughout. Overall, I weirdly like this beer. I grabbed it on a whim back in November, then read about some awful bottles of it, got scared, and sort of forgot about it till now, but that’s okay. For the mess that this beer’s description sets it up to be, this balanced its components very nicely. It’s definitely an acetic-bomb, but it carries just the right touch of chili heat, and lovely finishing wisp of oaky smoke and stout, and is oddly nice to sip on. The one thing it really lacks is the blueberry in its name, which is too bad, but a foregone conclusion given the component parts and blueberry’s delicate nature. If you really stretch it (which I did) you can see berry character in with the vinegary kicks, but that’s only if you stretch. I would definitely advise letting this one open in the glass, as its flat nature and numerous components really change as it sits. It’s a beer that should be a hot mess, and instead is a happy sipping oddity. As I get to the end of my glass, I do notice the heat of the beer starting bite my stomach a little, and the acetic nature does start to put a grime over the teeth, but this really is surprisingly tasty. Flanders Red lovers, and those searching for vinegary-gold with just a little chili heat will be in for a treat. Just drink it with an open mind and enjoy.

 

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