adventures in craft beer and real food

Friday, March 03, 2006

Tasting Notes: New Glarus Sour Brown Ale

Beer: Unplugged Sour Brown Ale
Brewery: New Glarus Brewing Company (New Glarus, WI)
Style: sour brown ale

How could I pass up the opportunity to review one of the rarer styles out there? Sour brown ales are a strictly Belgian affair, although several American craft breweries have tried their hand at it as well. Traditionally, the beer is brewed in and around Flanders. The most notable producer of it might be the New Belgium Brewing Company with La Folie.

The beer poured a hazy brown color and raised very little head. What head did develop dissipated quickly. There was no carbonation to speak of, as is appropriate for this style of beer.

The nose is pleasantly complex. A bold sourness hits first, followed by apple and orange peel notes. As I drank the beer, I found it to be only ostensibly sour. Yes, it is sour. It evoked the word "bizarre" in one of my friends. But it's a gentle sourness that may require some acclimation. The sourness quickly gives way to a sweet flavor that lingers on the tongue. It carries with it a convincing apple taste, with undertones of a fruit basket. I picked up hints of grapefruit, strawberry, and pineapple.

I'd really like to try this beer with sweet and sour chicken, Chinese restaurant style. The sour-sweet contrast in the beer would mirror the sweet-sour contrast in the dish. And it would do so without the flavors cancelling each other out. Many chicken and pork dishes would also go great with it, especially ones with sauce bontemps. I also think it would be a refreshing partner to apple pie, where the apples in the dessert would really bring up the apples in the beer.

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