Style: Bourbon Barrel Aged American Dark Wild Ale aged on Tart Cherries
Bottled On: 7.31.15
From: Asheville, NC
Brewery’s Note: “Black Angel Cherry Sour is our flagship sour. This sour black ale is brewed with over one pound of sweet and tart cherries per barrel. It is then aged with souring bacteria in bourbon barrels. This sour is always a blend of our best tasting barrels all of which originate from our very first batch, vintage 2012.”
The Story: “Eons ago, the nefarious Bacilli the Black resurfaced from darkness and infected the Great Angel of light with an obsidian parasite. The great darkness took over the Angl=el as she shed her luminous spirit. No longer fit for the heaven, she was exiled to the Woods of Obscurity. Receiving life from the fruit of the wood, the Angel began to forge virtue from the obsidian evil that had infected her. She emerged from the wood after her long respite with a profound new strength and cast Bacilli the Black back into the great darkness. Now, known as the Black Angel, she spends her days between two worlds, watching over all those who drink.”
The beer pours a deep, dark, and rouging brown-near-black. The beer pours with a small head of rich, tan bubbles the texture of cream. The beer’s lacing is slick and short lived, but compact and sheeted without gaps. The beer’s body is deep, dark, and opaque, with only a murmur of maroon light sneaking through the thinner parts of the glass. It looks dark, mysterious, yet regal and svelte, showing a good nimbleness. On the nose, the beer is deeply Flanders in influence, sweet cherries dipped in dark chocolate and laying upon an old, musty leather couch. The cherry fruit leather scent is tinged and tingled with acetic nuances that never become unpleasant, and bring lovely complexity to the nose, and the chocolate takes on tinges of cocoa powder and the softest turn of almonds. Each sniff brings different scents to the nostrils, and I love it. The nose is not bombastic by any measure, but it is rich and nuanced, showing shimmers of decadence and nimble kriek acidity. On the tongue, the sip begins aceticly tart and snappy with a slight bite that nips at tannic bitterness and perhaps just a touch of alcoholic heat. This moves into a subtle revelry of cherry tartness, mixed with soft fruit acidity, and then a beautiful dust of dark cocoa powder blows in to add soft, chocolate sweetness. The finish brings a beautiful cherry/kriek flourish with a touch of pool water, and the exhale brings glorious complexity. Cherry-dipped chocolates, subtle almonds with their skins, a little bit of sweet apple cider, and then smooth, dry fruit skin tannins that bundle the close nicely and leave the mouth slightly dry with lovely kisses of rich cocoa powder. In the mouth, the beer is deceptively medium bodied, sharp, nimble and crisp, despite its more decadent finish and aftertaste. Carbonation is middling to soft, but the acidity and barrel-tannin play to give the beer a sharp snap in the opening salvos, and leave the tongue slightly tingly in the end. When you get it to linger in the mouth, there is a beautiful roasty/bourbon-barrel flavor that lines the mouth and leaves a nice resin of congealing spittle, but you have to work to make the flavor stay as the sharp crispness of the opening works to scrub it quickly away. The more you drink, the more the flavors linger, and the better it gets. The mouth is left sticky with a resiny, congealed spittle over the top of the tongue, and especially on the roof of the mouth. Spittle does work itself up in the extreme regions of the mouth in an effort to cancel all that acidity, but the mouth is largely left feeling bright and fresh, yet with a lingering thickness on the edges, and just a ghost of roasty bitterness that you get from a good stout. Overall, this is a lovely sip. Dark Wild Ales are really a shot in the dark, and don’t always come out pleasantly, but this one is superb. It has enough oomff and linger to it that I wouldn’t mind sipping it in front of a warm fire on a cold winter’s night, yet is spry, nimble, and fruity enough to appease the palate in the warmer months. This is lovely stuff, and yet another example of the superb stuff coming from those Wicked Weed folk. NC is doing some nice stuff, and Wicked Weed seems to be leading the charge. I’ve just about ran out of bottles from my NC trip, but I can’t wait to get more. This is some supremely nice stuff.