Friday, May 11, 2012

Allagash Interlude (2011 vintage)

My first ever Allagash beer. It only took me almost four years and well over 600 episodes to get to one, which is odd because the brewery is from Maine and my beers store does carry their products. It gets even more ironic when you consider that this beer was actually sent to me from Joseph of all the way down in DC! The description makes it sound like a great beer: a Belgian strong ale aged in red wine barrels PLUS Brettanomyces for souring. Shaun's never had a sour before so this episode was a new experience for both of us in several ways.

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 3/5   TASTE 5/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (661) - Albany, New York, USA - MAY 6, 2012
I like sour beers, mostly because they taste like candy. I’ve never encountered one that didn’t have some complexity, that is until I tried Allagash Interlude. The description makes it sound like an absolute winner: a Belgian strong pale ale aged in red wine barrels with Brettanomyces yeast for souring. But the net product is a beer that tastes like little more than an extremely dry cider.

I received a 750ml caged and corked bottle from a friend in a trade (thanks, Joseph!). I split it with a friend. We each poured it into tulip glasses.

Appearance: Bright, almost glowing shade of orange. Peach skin or honey hue. Noticeably cloudy but with plenty of visible carbonation. Forms a small, white, soapy head which retains and laces well enough.

Smell: Strong sour yeast esters with hints of a white grape vinous fragrance (which is ironic considering it’s aged in red wine barrels).

Taste: I’m always looking for a beer to surprise me and Allagash Interlude definitely did with its sour palate. Immediate dry sourness hits the tongue right away, giving way to a tart green apple or white grape flavor and then reverts back to the sharp dry tartness of the beginning. It finishes mostly clean with just a bit of a dryness in the aftertaste. The problem is the palate is simply little more than sheer sourness and not enough fruity qualities or other flavors to balance it out. As it warms I do get a bit of an apple juice or cider flavor, but that’s quite subtle as the dry sourness overshadows it for sure. There’s also an acidic taste here, almost in the league of vinegar. All this beer needs is some fruitiness to balance it out as there’s really not a lot of taste to really enjoy and absorb.

Drinkability: While Allagash Interlude is a pretty big beer at 9.5% ABV it’s not the alcohol that makes it a sipper (although there is some noticeable warmth) - it’s the sourness. A thin, very crisp mouthfeel is an ideal delivery method for this type of palate. But the sheer sharp sourness and dryness had me pulling back on the sip very quickly. The effervescence made it difficult to drink in more than a sip at a time anyway.

Grade: 4/10


  1. A "beer expert" and this is your first Allagash? That says a lot, doesn't it? I must have tasted a completely different beer to the one you reviewed above. Just posting this as a counterpoint as your review is ranked high in the Google search for "Allagash Interlude" and it's not very accurate.

    1. Who said I was a beer expert?
      How can a review be "accurate"? Taste is subjective. If it were objective, we would all reach the same conclusion.
      Also, if you're just drinking this now the flavor would definitely have changed over the last three years. Did you not notice the date on the review?