Wonderful evening event organized by Homebrewers Gorizia and Reservoir Dogs brewery: Reservoir Dogs’ Sour & Barrel Aged. Unlike previous visits where we visited the brewery and tasted several of their beers, this time it was a specific visit limited to sour and barrel aged beers: The event was sold-out in the first 24 hours of booking!
I arrived fifteen minutes earlier, and I was very happy to notice that in the taproom there were already many people waiting (with glasses already half empty). When everyone was there Andrej gave us a glass each and accompanied us around a table, and after an introduction he brought the entrée of the evening, the Mayahuel. It is a 5% ABV Gose aged in Tequila barrels with two local ingredients: Piran’s salt and juniper berries from the Karst. The result was a very delicate and easy drinking orange beer in which salt and tequila are not intrusive, leaving pleasant woody, vinous and slightly citrus aromas and a pleasant taste sweet and not very sour.
Then we moved to the heart of the brewery, the brewing and fermentation area. The first thing I noticed as soon as Andrej opened the door was a very strong hops fragrance that bring smiles on the face of all the participants. Although I had already visited their brewery in the past, reviewing the immensity of their fermenters and cooking vats, everything in a bright steel, I was still a little excited. After the explanation of the production process and storage, he accompanied us outside the brewery.
After a short walk not far from the brewery, Andrej took us to see their detached establishment where sour beers are produced: the Dogs Sour Lab. It is a kind of winery that represents the strong union between their beers and the local vineyards. In fact, here are born their Wine Side Stories, that’s beers processed and aged with wine products from the main local winemakers.
There’s no technology here, only bottles, wooden barrels, a steel tank and a manual bottler. The beer is produced initially in the brewery and then moved to this cellar, where it will be united, for example, with wine fermentation sediments and grapes and then moved to a wine barrel where will ferment thanks to the wild yeasts in the wine sediments. After a long period of aging it will be bottled and refermented. A curiosity about these beers: all the beers produced here take their name from fallen angels represented by a logo on the label, together with a dotted line that represents the name of the winemaker in morse code.
After a detailed explanation on the methods of production we tasted some products of this establishment. We started with Azza, a 7% ABV Flanders Ale without dark malts fermented with wild yeast obtained from the not far away winemakers Klinec and aged in wine barrel. It looks like an almost flat orange beer without foam, with vinous and woody aromas that reminds aged white wines. The mouthfeel has a soft sourness with a pleasing bitter finish.
We then moved on to his sister Seere, same beer with an addition of sour cherry puree and further aging. The result is a beer with a similar alcohol content but with a red color and a intense black cherry aroma. Slightly more sparkling, it turns out to be much sweeter and balsamic both in the nose and in the mouth, vaguely recalling a much more delicate and fragrant version of classic Flanders sour beers.
To conclude, Andrej filled our glasses with a Flanders Ale, actually without a name, taken directly from the barrel. Aged in Cabernet barrels, it has an almost brownish color and intense red wine aroma with notes of fruit and licorice, leaving in the mouth a surprising taste of wood.
After the visit to the Dogs Sour Lab, we went back to the brewery to visit the barrel aging cellar inside the production area. In this very narrow and dark room Andrej told us how they use the barrels of rum and whiskey and then we tasted the 13% ABV Sol Invictus Barleywine version aged in barrels of Almagnac and Rum. Aroma is characterized by intense notes of honey and caramel and a noticeable alcohol and fruity aroma with notes that reminds soy sauce. In the mouth it turns out to be a very strong and characteristic beer with a sweet fruity and alcohol taste. After that, at the starting table, we tasted The Last Bourbon, an 11% ABV Imperial Stout aged in three different Bourbon Whiskey barrels. Aroma has intense alcohol and cocoa notes with licorice and ripe fruit. In the mouth, with his full body, there’s a very sweet starting taste that is later balanced by a roasted bitterness and taste of coffee that remains a long time in the throat.
For dinner the visit included half Pinsa Romana for each of us accompanied by a small blonde beer: the most chosen was the Sour Sister, a sour New England IPA with a tropical and hoppy flavor. After all those important beers the dinner turned out to be a very pleasant moment, and some of us took another half Pinsa. After dinner Andrej gave us an unscheduled surprise, the Sol Invictus Belgian Quadrupel version. Unlike the version tasted before, the aroma has strong Rum, fruity and alcoholic notes that after some time tends to reveal notes of wood and dried fruit. In the mouth a very pleasant taste of fruits and dried fruits.
Now was time for the Grand Finale: the Spirit of Islay. It is a 17% ABV Barleywine aged in barrels of scottish peated Single Malt from the Islay. As expected, in the nose stands out the peated aroma that reveals notes of red and dried fruits. Initially sweet in the mouth, towards the finish leaves an intense dry taste of wood and peat.
After the visit several participants greeted us heading home. Some of us, not yet completely satisfied, decided to drink the last one, of course with a second round of Azza.
At the closing time of the brewery we all headed home, happy for the trip and the wonderful tasting experience that I recommend absolutely to any lover of sour and aged beers.