The last couple of years have seen a surge of wine flavours make their way into beer, whether it be from wine barrels, beer-wine hybrid styles, wine yeasts, or vinous hops. Felons Brewing’s Champagne Sour uses the latter two, and captures the taste of a sparkling wine without ever touching any grapes or wine.
While this is called Champagne Sour, the “sour” is more about the method and style than flavour description - this beer has been kettle soured, but is only meant to be sharp enough to carry a Champagne like experience. It uses a few varieties of New Zealand hops, leaning most heavily on Nelson Sauvin, which bring the white wine characteristics that tie in with the light lactic acid. A strain of Champagne yeast gives the beer a sparkle and helps lift some of the citrus notes of the hops, as well as giving it a bone dry finish. Drink it from a Champagne flute and you’d struggle to tell the difference between this and a glass of bubbly.
While the Champagne Sour may appeal to some wine drinkers who aren’t usually into beer, the Crusade IPA will probably appeal more to those who have been questing after new beers and bolder flavours for some time. Felons used a Trappist yeast strain to bring a Belgian hit to an American IPA base. Banana and bubblegum esters wash over the tongue, with the orangey hops just poking through. Bitterness across the palate keeps any sweetness in check, as do the earthy, almost woody notes that come through in the finish.
Published January 11, 2020 2020-01-11 00:00:00