Thursday, August 14, 2014

White Birch Small Batch: Ned the Red

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 17/20
Chad9976 (1151) - Albany, New York, USA - AUG 14, 2014
I poured a 12oz bottle into a goblet. It was bottled on 5/1/14 and cost $5 ($0.42 per ounce).

Appearance: Beautiful shade of ruby red or maroon. Pours to a thin layer of yellowish, soapy foam which fizzles away quickly like a soda and leaves no lacing.

Smell: Strong aroma of wild yeast and a general funky/earthy character.

Taste: When a new brewery makes an awesome stout or IPA that’s impressive, but what’s even more impressive is when they make a great sour ale. Working with wild yeast and bacteria is a science and an art, which shouldn’t be trifled with by amateurs. Fortunately, White Birch’s “Ned the Red” – part of their Small Batch Ale series – drinks like a sour made by seasoned veterans.

Despite the red color, this beer is not actually made with any fruit. It’s probably brewed in the Flanders Red style, though it might be more accurately classified as an American wild ale. The flavor components are classic for the style: intense tartness right away with candy-like sourness immediately thereafter. In fact, those are pretty much the only two flavors here, but damn if they aren’t delicious. A closer inspection reveals hints of vinegar, red wine, and wood from the barrel. Was this aged in red wine barrels? Neither the bottle nor the website provides that information. Regardless, it’s a tasty sour done right.

Drinkability: Sours tend to be pretty big beers, and at 6.5% ABV, Ned the Red is somewhere between light and medium-bodied (for a sour). The mouthfeel is a bit tepid, calm, and smooth. I would not describe it as flat or slick, though. The sour and tart components to the palette are quite intense, so drinking this in more than a sip at a time is challenging. Though in this case I think sipping and savoring it is the right way to approach it. 
Grade: 9/10

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