After a fun weekend with the rest of the Virginia Brew Review crew in DC, it is time to look back on the fruits of our labor. The first beer I am going to look at asks an interesting question: When does a beer stop being the beer it was intended to be? We alluded to this question in our ‘Grid Lock’ review, but really started to ponder when I tried another beer from this Falls Church establishment. That’s not to say that the end product is poor or that their was no quality in the workmanship, it’s just that through the process became something else all together different. Well we took that trip through the rabbit hole with this beer and came out changed.
Cabernet Barrel-Aged Reynard Black Saison, Mad Fox Brewing (Falls Chruch, VA)
Barrel-Aged Black Saison, ABV: 7.0%
Presentation: Tap pour into tulep glass.
Appearance: Clear, very dark brown to black with faint hint of deep reds. Head was off white and not very prevalent on my glass, but my compatriot had a one-finger high head which dissipated quickly.
Smell: Sour fruits and light oak dominated, high acidic smell carried some malts.
Taste: If you would have told me this was a Gose, I wouldn’t have debated you there. The cabernet flavor impregnated from the barrel aging is with you the entire way. The use of the roasted malts in a traditional farmhouse ale compliments the wheaty/citrus you expect, but seems to fight for duality with the secondary process.
ABV/IBU Feel: Very tart and acidic, the ABV is noticeable throughout, like a sour or a lambic. The oak mellows it out towards the end just enough to not carry it through to the next taste. This beer does have a little body in it, particularly from the aging of a wheat beer in oak.
Overall: Don’t get me wrong, this was a very enjoyable beer, but it is a long, long way from a saison. I believe that it was once a saison, and I would put dollars to donuts that even with the dark malts that made it a ‘black saison’ that you could still pick out the qualities of a farmhouse ale that would keep it in that discussion. But the Cabernet barrel aging adds another fruit taste on top of it as well as some acidity that makes this a very cleaver brew, but one suited for gose fans and that should be enjoyed as an aperitif to the night.