Style: American Sour Brown
aged in Rum Barrels
10.5 % ABV
Brewery’s Note: “Sour Brown aged sour with Lactic acid bacteria in Stainless steel for 8 months. Then it was transferred to rum barrels for an additional 6-8 months./ Neddles is a sour brown aged in rum barrels from Ned’s new venture, New England Distilling. Dark amber in color with an aroma of green apple and candied fruit that is balanced nicely with notes of brown sugar and toasted marshmallow. This tart beer begins with dark fruit flavors, followed by molasses, coconut and honeysuckle.”
The beer pours a deep and beautiful bronze-amber with a small, soda-bubble-like head of creamy, off-white bubbles that slowly pull away from the center of the beer, leaving a ring. When splashed against the sides of the glass, the lacing is slick and swift, but a definite definition of legs briefly shimmers on the glass, like a water mirage in the dessert, before disappearing from the eye. In body, the beer is beautifully clear and clean of particles, though its deep color gives it a touch of opacity. On the nose, the beer takes a decidedly Flanders tinge, musking rich oak with middling cherry funk, bristling wet leather, and a healthy dose of malt vinegar to spice the nose. The oak displays the rum nicely, hinting at rich vanilla and brown sugar along with a touch of molasses. The nose is a tightly built creation that comes across very much in the Flanders strain on first whiff, and revels in delightful subtleties upon further reflection. On the tongue, the beer tastes pleasantly tart throughout the sip, with a lingering pucker at the finish and aftertaste. The acidity mingles with mild fruity and soft bready sweetness on the beginning and middle of the sip, but the beer dries nicely by the close of the beer with the rich and earthy oak sopping up the sweetness while the subtle tannic bitters snap lovingly in the mouth. Vinegar acetic tartness develops towards the middle of the sip right alongside green apple malic acid, and these build in the mouth as you drink the beer, bordering on unpleasant levels, but not quite passing into them. Boozy heat lurks throughout the sip, integrating very nicely into the balance, but just barely lettings its fin disturb the waters of taste. The flavor is decidedly malt vinegary, with much of the complexity coming from the rich oak notes in the middle and finish of the beer that moves through mallow, vanilla, raw wood slats, and toasted oak. The beginning of the sip is lush with green apple notes that quickly weave into malt vinegar with a touch of cherry, leather, and a hint of horse blanket, too, though I don’t think there is any brett in this beer (?). In the mouth, the beer feels medium plus bodied with a decided weight to the finish, yet a thinness for what the flavor and nose promise. It’s prickly in mouthfeel, with a mild carbonation but a definite scrub to the tongue from the acidic pucker and tannic astringency. When the beer leaves, the mouth is wet with acid-cancelling spittle, and the tongue is taut while its sides are a little too astringent. Overall, I’m not sure how I feel about this one. The oak and rum finish is delightfully complex, and blossoms as you let the beer open up, revealing level upon level of delights, but they are always working to subdue the malic and acetic aspects of the beer, which are intense at colder temps. I like acidity in my beer, and like a malic and acetic aspect, but with the way this beer is I think it needs more of a malt presence to tango with the barrel and smooth out the sip. I also, honestly, would not mind a little more girth to the liquid. This beer (In my mind) is really all about the rum barrels, and that aspect is beautiful, I just think the bugs need to be toned down a notch to let that barrel shine. As you sip more and more, you do start to feel an almost-rum burn deep in the belly, which is nice (and could be completely made up by me…). Let this one open in the glass, but be prepared for some slightly discordant notes. Not Allagash’s finest, but still a fine beer and a nice sip.