October 27, 2012 by probuswines
We’ve just received a delivery of the wonderful (and pretty rare) Goose Island Juliet, and after reacquainting myself with its beauty yesterday evening, I felt the urge to give it (and other sour beers) a good old plug on here!
What’s a sour ale you ask? In short, brewers of sour ales shun the normally sterile brewing environment and allow wild yeast strains & bacteria (for you sciencey-types, two of the more common agents put to use are Brettanomyces & Lactobacillus) into their open brewing vessels…yes, you could say that this is the process of knowingly producing ‘infected’ beer, but stick with me, it’s by no means dangerous/disgusting/weird (well, alright, it can be a bit weird at first!).
This style of ale has its roots firmly planted in Belgian brewing history; indeed, Belgian beer makers have been allowing wild yeast to get amongst their brews for centuries, and many of the more famous and established sour brewers have largely managed to harness this unpredictable process in order to produce consistently wonderful ales (a few of great brewers worth checking out are Cantillon, Rodenbach, Liefmans, Drie Fontainen…there are loads of them) with the most common styles being gueuzes, lambics, and Flanders Red Ale.
The major flavour profile of sours is, unsurprisingly, SOUR. These beauties can range from having a lip-smackingly brutal degree of lacto sourness to a gentle, understated sour funkiness in the aftertaste. This does take a bit of getting used to, but if you stick with it, the rewards (in terms of the other flavours which emerge once you get your head round the initial tartness) are just wonderful.
So, now to tell you about the frankly incredible Goose Island Juliet – a Chicago-brewed sour ale that the Belgians would be proud of!
This wonderful piece of brewing artistry is a Belgian-style sour ale which has been matured in Cabernet wine barrels with a healthy dose of fresh blackberries…yes, Juliet is one classy lady.
As the above picture shows, Juliet (which comes in at 8% ABV) pours a beautiful deep rose colour; on the nose there’s plenty of blackberry notes, tones of leather (a common trait in sours – and not at all unpleasant!), lemon juice, and juicy red fruits. The taste is incredible, with a great balance between the juicy sweetness of the berry notes and the lacto sourness; plenty of red wine tannin goodness adds to the full-on taste experience. The taste of it goes on and on and on, developing on the tongue for what seems like an eternity; this is a beer you could spend the whole evening mulling over – bloody hell, just writing this makes me want another!
So folks, if you’re feeling adventurous and you’re a red wine fan (especially Pinot Noir lovers) then why not grab yourself a bottle of Juliet and start exploring the wonderful and crazy world of sour ale? It might take you a bit of time to ‘get it’, but once you do, you’ll be hooked for life!