Sour pie cherries, stunning mahogany gradients and innovative barrel aging were all a part of this week's 2 O'Clock Tasting - straight from Portland, Oregon! Cascade Brewing, a pioneer of the sour beer movement, prides itself on the yearly release of its Kriek and we were excited to try the same beer from the past several years to experience each brew's nuances.
Utilizing hundreds of barrels that, at one time, carried whiskey, wine and sherry, Cascade incorporates the faint residue of these alcohols when producing each Kriek. The results are rich, complex and tasty, with different strains of bacteria and varying sourness diversifying each brew.We were thrilled to sample the last six years of Cascade's Kriek, starting with the youngest in 2013 and going all the way back to 2008. Have a bottle you've been saving? Pop it open and share with family and friends this week - the richness and full flavor of each is perfect for a festive occasion. Happy holidays!
Rich mahogany was the color that came to mind when studying the fairly clear 2013 Kriek, complete with a reddish brown head of fine bubbles. Tart cherries, oak and a little spice were present in both aroma and taste, illustrated with a dry finish and the longing for one of our favorite childhood candies - Warheads!
A little muddier than the 2013, the 2012 Kriek has a good amount of carbonation and pours the gradient of an orange sunset with a deep brownish red hue. It delivers a round, funky aroma and has a more muted nose than the 2013. The taste finishes fairly sour - there's not an immediate, palatable pucker. The tastes starts with lemon and hints of tobacco come through on the end.
The fairly clear 2011 was called 'raspberry beret' in appearance, which thins out a little on the rim and becomes foamy upon swirl. Malty aromas of bourbon booziness and cherry liquor give way to a mouthful of cherry pie filling and nut butter, finishg with crisp acidity similar to sour cream.
A little flat in carbonation with an orange-brown shade, the 2010 had damp, musty aromas similar to a dew-covered tree on the banks of a river. Balsamic vinegar and pungent blue cheese followed in flavor, with hints of cranberries.
When first observing this slightly pale, carbonated brew, we saw 'cherries soaked in whiskey' in the reddish brown pigment. Smooth maltiness (similar to honey and oak) and a complex acid structure stir up the senses. We compared both the lactic, sour taste and nose to 'yogurt in a plastic cup'.
This Great American Beer Festival bronze medal winner was by far our favorite of the tasting. Its perfect balance of aged bourbon and dark fruit left a delicious, lingering taste. It had an unquestionably malty with bourbon oak notes, molasses and pie spice, but didn't lack a Kriek's signature sour cherry richness and layered complexity.