Drinking on a Monday is a short column where I share that one bottle that I open after the most dreadful of all weekdays.
Last week I touched on how I have been introducing my beer-adverse fiance to the world of complex craft beers. This week I thought I would continue that with a special treat (more for me than for you). As I had mentioned, Heather (that’s her name) really enjoys sours, so it’s nice when I can bring home some special bottles that she can enjoy with me. Most recently, a trip to Sunset Beer Co. provide me with two very special bottles from Almanac Brewing, and since H and I were splitting them, we figured opening both wouldn’t hurt.
Valley of the Heart’s Delight pours a murky orangish-pink, similar to orange juice mixed with cranberry or a Shirley temple. It’s pulpy, with small seeds floating around the glass, which promise a certain freshness. There is a nice froth when it’s poured into the tulip glass that quickly dissipates to close to nothing. From the aroma I get a lot of strawberry and apricot; juicy and fresh, which makes me concerned that it’ll be a tad too sweet. Those concerns quickly disappear when the first sip is sharp and acidic with citrus. It’s tart on the tongue as the fruit builds to a lovely dry finish. The wine barrel adds a nice layer to the beer, which has very light and fine carbonation. This is a very special beer, with a freshness and depth that’s unparalleled in many west coast sours.
Brandy Barrel Peche has the aroma of pure peaches with a bit of residual funk. It pours a pale but warm orange color with a very light white head that settles to an ultra thin lacing on the glass. It’s cloudy, but not murky like the Valley of the Heart’s Delight. The sip starts very similar to the Valley, with sharp citrus filling your mouth before it it settled into a nice funk with a slight peach brightness. This is much more of a traditional sour ale, and is very satisfying if not preceded by a Valley of the Heart’s Delight. In that case, you’ll drink this longing for the former.
There’s a lot of exciting things happening in sour ales so make sure you grab these Almanac Beers when you see them because they don’t sit on the shelves for long. Sours really are a great gateway into craft beer for those that are a little more hop-adverse. There’s a depth and character to them that can really make wine-lovers into beer drinkers. Next Monday, City Tavern in Culver City will be hosting their Sour St. Patty’s Day event, with Valley Of the Heart’s Delight on tap, as well as Cascade Brewing flights.