Friday, April 22, 2016

A Whale A Week: Side Project Blueberry Flanders

Now in my second year, A Whale A Week is my challenge to try (with an array of beer loving friends) a rare beer for every week of the year.  Last year I had a great time with this and have continued it for 2016.  Not every beer will be a truly "white whale" beer, but all are hard to find and a treat to try!  This week we try something different.  Tired of just trying out one beer (and lets be honest how can I really shrink my cellar at this rate) each week, we're going to break out a bunch of them!

Side Project Blueberry Flanders

I've reviewed one of Side Project's beers before (Saison du Fermier) HERE, so check it out for more background on the brewery and the super friendly wizard that creates such amazing beers for both Perennial Brewing and his own Side Project Brewing. For this tasting, Rob Wengler (one of my old high school friends, homebrewer, beer video journalist with Limited Release) shared this little bottle.  Along with us was my wife Sarajo--professed lover of sour beers.  The Blueberry Flanders is based on the Flanders red sour mixed fermentation style made most famous by Rodenbach in Belgium.  Obviously blueberries were used in the process, but I'm not sure how.  And the beer was aged in wine barrels to add complexity.  The 7% ABV beer has a 96 score on Ratebeer and a 91 on Beer Advocate.  


Eric: Just taking a whiff of this beer my salivary glands freaked out and caused me to gleek all over the place.  Very tart and tannic.  Blueberry skins.  Mix of acid, brett funkiness, and maybe some pediococcus.  Fruity and bright.  Eye opening.
Rob: Smells sour.  I do get a hint of mellow blueberry pie--but the tartest blueberry pie ever.


Eric: Highly carbonated and deep amber with pink highlights.  Looks like fruit soda.  Very fine white head fades to the glass edge quickly.  Excellent clarity with bubbles coalescing on the sides of the glass. 
Rob: Looks like Canadian grape/raisin soda.  Purple with a twinge of brown.  Lots of tiny bubbles like Champagne.
Sarajo: Can't see for the bubbles!


Eric:  As I take my first sip shivers go up and down my neck and spine.  So tart it almost hurts--like biting into a raw cranberry.  Has a hint of sweetness at the center, but is quite fleeting.  Blueberry is subtle and comes off more as the tannic skin of the berry rather than the sweet flesh.  Hint of pie cherry and lemon rind.  Stays with you after finished with a strong tart end.
Rob: Not mind-bendingly tart like I thought it would be.  I wouldn't say it was and overwhelming blueberry flavor, but think it comes through as a "rounding of the corners" of the sour ale.  Still makes me drool like a 2 year old (REDACTED) with a tooth coming in.
Sarajo: Mouthpuckeringly tart.


Eric: A wonderfully sour beer, but really at the extreme edge of drinkability.  Glad this comes in a small bottle!  Much more tart and acidic than the typical blended Flanders style.  Despite all this, I still love it.  4.5
Rob: Light, crisp, of course effervescent.  I'm not a big sour guy but this is still pretty good.  4
Sarajo: 4.5

Overall Score: 4.42

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