Style: Sour Brown Ale aged in Pinot Noir Barrels with Sour Cherries
From: Santa Rosa, CA
Brewery’s Note: “Brown Ale aged in used Pinot Noir barrels from local Sonoma County wineries. It is aged for about 12 months with sour cherries, brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus added to each barrel. Flavors from the cherries, Pinot Noir and oak balance each other nicely with a little funk from the brett.”
The beer pours a ruddy, pinkish brown. It sits muddy, opaque, and murky in the glass. The beer pours with a pale white head of tight knit bubbles that dwindle to a nice scrim. Lacing is negligible, sliding back into the surface of the beer nearly as quick as it comes out, though a thin, shimmery ooze on the walls of the glass suggests a slight pair of alcoholic legs. On the nose, the beer smells of cherry coated oak staves, lacquered with vanilla, fruit leather, subtle strawberry, hay must, a faint touch of dried tobacco leaves, and fresh crushed cherries. The smell is nuanced, full, yet restrained and elegant. On the tongue, the beer tastes slightly of fruity sweetness, quickly building in a fresh sour pluck that wavers with fresh fruit skin bitters nimbly structuring the edges. Cherry tannins give slight bitters, and the finish carries rich oak tannin bitters with a subtle, earthy toast. The middle builds beautiful funky must, mixing acidity, earthy qualities, and subtle sweet funk. The funks flavor wavers with earthy hay, very faint cheese wax (not really rind, just the bland aftertaste of it), touched with bretty cherry, slight caramel, and orange rind acidity in the finish. In the mouth, the beer is on the lighter side of medium in body, but with a grip and weight to the back end that gives it a fuller completion and wonderful structure in the mouth. Put this with food and watch it play. A fuller carb and acidity provide a smooth prickle to the sip, and the mouth is left dry. It feels effervescent, quaffable, yet lush and complex in body. It’s not a chugger, especially given the complex flavors, but its nimbleness means that could be crushed if needed (does that make sense?). The tongue is left slightly sticky while a thick coat of spittle sheens over it. The sides of the tongue are slightly taught and sticky, while the roof of the mouth is oddly dry. Put simply, the beer is a gorgeous Sour Brown. The cherries are integrated skillfully, the funk is held at optimal levels while not stealing the show, and the barrel is wonderfully expressive. A triumvirate of balance at the pinnacle of the brewing world. You hear a lot about the Russian River wilds from the beer crowd; they are the one of the O.G.’s, but they aren’t often seen on the east coast without a nice trade hookup. I’m glad I found this, and even gladder I have another sitting in the cellar. You don’t need me to tell you at this point, but the hype is real, Supplication is delicious, and skillfully built. They have the vintages, the blending capability, the barrel knowledge, and so much more which places them firmly in front of the competition simply because they have been doing it for so long, yet on top of that, they have one of the most skilled brewers in the game. Russian River is one of the best for a reason. Vinnie has got the skills.