Anchorage Brewing Company decided from the get go that they were going to do things just a little bit differently than the average craft brewery. All of their beers are barrel aged and fermented with Brettanomyces (and other sour yeasts). This allows brewer Gabe Fletcher to take tried and true styles and send them off down whole new pathways created by this oft-unpredictable fermentation process. This is what makes trying this beer all that much more exciting.
Ale brewed with Summit hops. Triple fermented. First in stainless tanks with a Belgian yeast. Second in French oak Pinot Noir barrels with Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus, and Pediococcus. Finally in the bottle for natural carbonation. Aged longer to enhance the acidity.
Anadromous refers to fish that travel up river from the sea to spawn, which explains the awesome salmon-like fish on the label. The cork and cage bottle popped, allowing the carbonation to quickly make a break towards freedom. Thankfully there was no overflowing this time around, but there was a substantial, albeit short lived, dark brown head. The beer itself also poured a deep brown color that was similar to an imperial porter. As the beer sat in the glass the head shortly faded to a ring of cola-like bubbles. Lacing was mild, mainly appearing when the glass was agitated.
Even though I had never had a “Black Sour Ale”, the aroma was where I knew this beer was going to be unique. Wood barrel, chocolate, Pinot Noir, and peanuts were the most dominant scents. An acetone/nail polisher remover aroma came in as it warmed up, but thankfully wasn’t strong enough to overrun the more pleasurable aromas.
Flavor wise I was in for more of the same. The taste began with a blend of wood, chocolate, and red wine. A touch of nuttiness and dark fruit (mostly fig and some date) saddled in at the end. I thought I picked up on some smokiness in there as well, but the friends I shared this bottle with thought I was crazy. As the beer warmed up a tad a chocolate covered (sourdough) pretzels appeared to finish off each sip.
Mouthfeel was light to medium and somewhat dry due in part to the bottle conditioning. Lots of clingers were left around the inside of my mouth after each drink.
Black Sour Ale…hmm. It started a little heavy on the wine side, but as it warmed up a bit the dark stout-like notes started to shine. I almost wish it wasn’t as sour/wine-like so that the chocolate nut stout flavors could pop a little more. An interesting beer and one that would be fun to revisit after the bottle had been sitting for another 6-12 months.
Overall: 8 out of 10
As an AMERICAN WILD ALE: 6 out of 10
For fans of: Weyerbacher SOUR BLACK, Wicked Weed BLACK ANGEL CHERRY SOUR, New Belgium CLUTCH