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Despite my extreme jubilation at moving away from the Northeast a few years back, there are a few things I miss about the region. Predictably, my friends and colleagues from UNYHA (Upstate New York Homebrewers Association) are on that list. Not-quite-as-predictably, I miss the beer. Not necessarily the local beers; both Texas and New York have legislative and local culture challenges that, while different from each other, sometimes create obstacles on the path to craft beer excellence. I’m looking at you, Texas beer distributors. But I digress (as is often the case).
While I can sometimes find a Victory beer or two on tap at my local Flying Saucer, I rarely (never) have the pleasure of sampling new beers from such Pennsylvania breweries as Tröegs or Weyerbacher, which is why it’s so exciting to be able to write this review of a new Tröegs spring release, Boysenberry Tart Ale. When I read about the release, it sounded like a beer that would be delicious, and fun to write about. Since Texas is not within their distribution area, I asked the brewery if they’d be willing to furnish a sample for review. They graciously obliged (thanks, guys!) and here we are.
Disclaimer: The beer for this review was provided by Tröegs Independent Brewing. The writing is neither paid for, nor swayed by this fact.
April 7th, 2019 – National Beer Day
Today is a high pollen day in N. Texas, so nosing is somewhat reduced.
Nose: Initial sniff is berry, leather with a salty-spicy finish.
First sip: I get a fizzy cucumber-salt blackberry tea flavor. Sounds strange but it works. Little to no aftertaste. Not a tongue cleanser despite the tart.
A light, crisp and refreshingly agricultural (in a good way) product. Little to no sweetness and some interesting floral leaf notes. Enough complexity to favor sipping, but also approachable enough that it won’t punish you for drinking fast. You could call it a session beer, but that wouldn’t do it justice.
The lemony-bright lacto flavor would be well complimented by shortbreads or mild desserts, and would also make a great food-focused addition to mirin-glazed basil salmon.
4.5% ABV, fermented with Lactobacillus and “house yeast.”
Color: Cloudy, an opaque, almost ruby-red grapefruit color, but more ruby and less orange.
The head is white, with fine bubbles. It starts out fairly puffy (often described as “rocky”), but recedes to a long-lasting ring around the edge of the glass.
Nose: Very juicy (naturally), slightly funky and tart. Lacto tends to lend itself to a tart, but not truly sour funkiness, without as much of the sweaty or horse blanket characteristics that are often ascribed to lambics, or ales fermented with brettanomyces. Lacto beers are very often cloudy.
Taste: Tart, shade-ripened berries up front, lingering lemon-esque tartness on the finish. There’s not much sweetness (this is not comparable to the Celis Raspberry, for instance), but is also less sour than a berliner weisse, and does not have the tongue-scouring lactic acid character of that style.
Since it’s not as sour, I’d think crème brûlée would be a tasty pairing. Tröegs has their own pairing recommendations, too.
Overall, this is a quite refreshing, low-alcohol tart ale that’s perfect for a sunny spring day. For those who are perhaps iffy on “sour” beers, it’s an accessible entry point, and it’s tart enough that aficionados of sour beers will also like it. Nice work, Tröegs. My only question is, when are you going to start distributing in Texas?