Driftwood – Bird of Prey 2014

I was genuinely filled with glee when I learned that Driftwood was re-releasing their original sour from 2011, Bird of Prey.  I have all the others in my cellar, but Bird of Prey was sadly absent.  2011 was about when I got into sours, and I missed the original release because I wasn’t as well connected as I am now with what’s going on in the beer scene.  Thankfully, Driftwood gave me a second chance.

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Bird of Prey is a Flanders Red, which is quite specific geographically, but looser in flavour profile. For instance, Duchesse de Bourgogne is very sweet and only slightly tart, whereas Cuvée de Jacobins is a pucker-fest. Bird of Prey is kind of muted on both sides.

Flanders / Flemish reds get their character from Lactobacillus, which produces a sourness by way of the production of lactic acid.  Bird of Prey has a serious lactic funk, especially through the finish of each sip.  It’s actually slightly heavy, though not unpleasant.  There is grape must, sour cherries (though not overly sweet), and a heavy tannin bill on the nose.  The palate is gentler, with the fruitiness kept fairly low profile.  It is good, though not as lively as you’ll find in some Flanders reds.

I also decided to pop open a bottle of Lustrum to compare and contrast between, though these are not the same style at all and thus comparison is kind of moot.  Mostly I wanted to see which I preferred, and I bought so many bottles of Lustrum I am always looking for an excuse to open one.

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Mostly they’re different, but they do share a common thread when it comes to that lactic funk:  both exhibit a strong lactic funk which outlasts the rest of the flavours.  Lactic acid is a welcome and important part of many sour beers, though it is a taste that ought to clean up after itself.  By that I mean other characteristics of the beer (for instance, carbonation, barrel character, fruit flavour, or hops profile) come in and neutralize the funk towards the back end of the palate.  Neither of these fully clean up after themselves in this regard, but the funk that’s left behind is by no means unpleasant.

I’m looking forward to seeing how Bird of Prey does with a little age.  It will be joined by its pals Lustrum, Belle Royale, and Mad Bruin in the cellar and the next tasting will likely involve all four.

Monk’s Cafe – Flemish Sour Ale

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Monk’s Flemish ale is what I’d call a gateway sour.  A friend referred to it as the next step after Duchesse and I tend to agree, though I’m not even sure it’s a step further.  It’s (from distant memory now) pretty darn similar in character.  

The beer pours dark, it’s a deep and dark cherry brown that lets only a limited amount of light through.  The smell is pretty sweet though there is a lingering acidic tartness in there as well.  It is fruity – cherries mostly.   The taste is a balance between sweet and sour – both components are there but the bias is towards sweetness.  Fruit-forward with cherry, raspberry, maybe a little red licorice even.  It has a light and silky texture that is quite wonderful.  There is some acidic tartness in there too though it is decidedly secondary, at least to me.  I realize I have a high tolerance for sourness these days. 

This is definitely one many could enjoy – you do not need to like sours to like this beer.  As long as you’re open-minded about fruit flavours in your beer you’ll likely find this to be very tasty.  The fruit isn’t overwhelmingly powerful by any means mind, just present.

Interesting fact:  No ABV% is present on the label anywhere.  BeerAdvocate lists it at 5.5% though, which is around what I’d have guessed.

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