Monday, October 28, 2013

Captain Lawrence - Rosso e Marrone Review

Brewery: Captain Lawrence (NY)
Style: Sour Ale / Oud Bruin
ABV: 10%
Grade: A-

Age: ~6 Months Since Release

When accompanying a novice sour beer drinker on their very first foray into the wild realm, you will often hear comparisons to wine thrown about. I've never really liked making the comparison myself, although I don't argue with it. I get what people mean, and think the comparison is valid to a certain point, but wine is rarely outright sour. And, well, that sour, funk-focused complexity is exactly the point of most sour beer styles. Still, it seems this comparison is at the back of many brewer's minds when they're crafting their wild brews — grapes are probably one of the most common fruit additions to sour beers, these days.

Despite pouring with a thin, spritzy head that fades to nothing almost immediately, Rosso e Marrone is quite a pretty beer. Fill the glass halfway to let some light through and you get a very wine-like beverage indeed; totally still, a deep bright burgundy. This could fool people into thinking it was a light red wine. The aroma is less revealing, with only a faint hint of sourness, a bit of funk, tannic grape skin, old wood, and a slight oxidized note. There's a very mellow hint of booze, but it's quite tame for a beer this big. 

The flavor is much more saturated than the aroma, with a deep sourness that ushers in a parade of dark fruits — the sweet-and-sour cherry, tart berry and plum expected from malty sours, finished by a bitter vinous wine note. That last bit of slightly-harsh grape is the perfect punctuation note, the only moment when Rosso e Marrone feels aggressive. The sour is very full, but is backed by enough sweet fruit character that this remains quite approachable. A lack of carbonation — or maybe a lack of malt — makes for a surprisingly thin body, even for a sour. This sips like a juice (albeit a very complex, delicious juice), and packs the punch of, well, a wine. Do with it as you will. 

If Rosso e Marrone sounds like it'd be a great sour to introduce the undoctrinated to, it would be, though the price remains an unfortunate hindrance, at $17 for a 12 ounce bottle.

Availability: 12.7 oz bottle. One of those beers that's released when it's released. Probably every other year or so. This review was of batch #4.

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