Tuesday, September 20, 2011

484. Epic Brainless on Cherries Belgian-Style Ale

Epic Brewing Company is a new brewery out of Salt Lake City, Utah; they’ve come up pretty hot and heavy as of late, especially here in Dayton—we’ve seen a couple of events featuring their beer, and quite a wide variety of beers as well. I actually had this beer on tap a couple of weeks ago at Lucky’s, and it is much better out of the bottle. Described as a “malt beverage brewed with cherries and aged on oak barrels” (and they do indicate that the barrels are French Oak), Brainless on Cherries is part of Epic’s Exponential Series. And as to why beers from Utah are blowing up in Dayton, Ohio—well, that’s another story, one most likely beyond even my abilities to bullshit.

Brainless on Cherries pours a pinkish grapefruit leavened with an orange-ish tan—it is not quite clear, although less than opaque, and brightly effervescent with a white head that constantly replenishes itself. It also has some pretty ruby-red highlights. The nose contains a good dose of cherry, but there is also plenty of Belgian yeast character—the cherry melds nicely with the perfume-y qualities and fruit esters of the aroma. This is further balanced by fruit pith, a touch of sweet toasty malt (pilsner, I would guess) and some simultaneous spritz-y and mineral notes. We’ll call it candy fruity Belgian goodness. Oak character emerges as the beer warms, but when first poured, it is pretty minimal—unless it is passing itself off as the pith aroma. Flavors start sweet and slightly creamy before plunging into the cherry flavor in the middle; there is slight tacky dryness in the middle that I’ll attribute to the oak as well that gives way to a touch of bright but gentle alcohol as the beer turns to the finish. It concludes with a touch of fruit tartness and some lingering alcohol warmth, although the beer is far lighter and brighter than I initially expected. The fruit flavor is light and balances well with the body of the beer—it is both delicate and subtle. As well, Brainless on Cherries sits lightly on the palate for a 10.7% beer; there is some alcohol flavor and warmth, but far less than anticipated. The bright carbonation contributes to rounding the beer on the tongue (as does the oak); there are a few harsh alcohol hints as the beer warms, but these are minimal. The oak is present but restrained; the emphasis in on the beer and subtle fruit, with the oak playing a supporting role that contributes most to the larger character of the beer. Overall, I’d call this beer a pleasant surprise—it is well-crafted and has more character, subtlety, and nuance that I would had originally given it credit for—and this is after I had it on draft. Elli even had nice things to say—she got nice and tipsy from her share of the bottle—and was pleased with the subtle flavors and smoothness of the beer. We may have to get ourselves a couple more bottles to try...

From the bottle: “You are holding something special—one of only 1,800 bottles released and numbered. Intrigued? Visit http://www.epicbrewing.com/ to explore this limited brew’s precise details.”

From the brewery: “Release 3 we decided to add another layer of flavor to this beer by combining both Sweet and Sour Cherries in the barrel fermentation and aging process but with a higher ratio of sour cherries. We took our double gold medal winning Brainless Belgian, added cherry puree and aged it in French Chardonnay casks for a secondary fermentation in the barrels and some additional aging. Pours a beautiful deep ruby color with a medium white head to pink head. A nice nose of sweet and sourcherries, Belgian malts, and barrel aging. The flavor is dominated by white wine dryness and malt and fruit driven sweetness.”

ABV: 10.7%
Release #3


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