Tart Of Darkness | The Bruery

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Tart Of DarknessTart Of Darkness

Brewed by:
The Bruery
California, United States

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 7.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
Batch 2 was aged in spent Black Tuesday barrels.

Added by ajcobb24 on 06-22-2011

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Reviews: 370 | Ratings: 2,419
Photo of TruePerception
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

(Prior review, transferred from another forum)


Tart Of Darkness, from The Bruery! It's a sour stout, aged in oak barrels. Black, with just the slightest bit of cola towards the top edges. No head. Moderate funky tartness on the nose. A bit of menthol-y orange (which is leaving the inside of my nose slightly cold!). Weird! I just inhaled and got a slight orange cream menthol taste (like Halls Fruit Breezers) on the tip of my tongue. Not sure how that happened. As it's warming up, the funky note is taking on more of a wine must smell. Oh, wow. That was not like I expected! There isn't any chocolate or coffee notes to speak of. It's more of a multi-layered tartness. Let's see if I can identify it all properly...

There is a very sharp acidity on the tip of the tongue. Like tons of tiny pin pricks. No particular flavor, but it has a creamy carbonated feel to it. Just behind the tip, you get some cherry/tartaric acid flavor, and a slight citric acid. Maybe a bit of cola. About mid-tongue (top of the bend) there is a bitterness of some sort. Fruit stem, maybe?

Going back in for another nose, there seems to be a touch of coffee cherry. Slight dirt/soil. This is very easy to drink and the acidity is quite nice, and complex. Aftertaste is light, but lasts a decent amount of time. (Rating: Very Good). A hard pill to swallow, at $20, but worth it!

7%. 750mL. Pint glass (I need a tulip, like now!).

Edit 8/25/15:

The Bruery's Tart of Darkness 2015. 7.2% ABV.

A: Black, with a dark and slightly honeyed brown in the dimple. Just over a finger of slightly cocoa head.

S: Tons of funky sour cherry acidity.

T/MF: Even more sourness on the palate. Sharp tartaric and citric acids at the tip, with a bit of earthy cherry. Orange with a hint of cream. Peach pit and cherry stone become more pronounced around mid-tongue. More citric focused towards the back.

Poured from a 750mL bottle, into a Belgian tulip glass.

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Photo of Titans77
4.27/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

2013 Version @ 7% abv

A - Very, very dark brown verging on a black. Can see some ruby where the light hits the glass. Half finger of very light brown head that left rather quickly. Leaves bubbles around the edge of the glass. Great looking beer.

S - sour dark fruits and no typical stout characteristics I thought it would have. Green apple and oak dominate the rather solid aroma.

T - Upfront you get the big sour cherry and apple flavors. Some oak in the middle of the mouth as well as the dark roasted malts I was expecting. On the back end, more oak and dark malts you see in stouts. Sour dominates the flavor up front, wood and malt in the back. They work VERY well together.

M - Something about the carbonation and feel of this beer just work together. Moderate carbonation, smooth silky stout character and no presence of alcohol (at 7% abv) all make this beer drink phenomenally. Such a good combo.

O - Worth the $20 price for a special occasion. I won't buy this beer again unless something good is coming up, though. The Bruery is doing good things.

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Photo of alaimoa
4.12/5  rDev -1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: black pour with 1 inch head that quickly dissipates without much lace left behind
S: sour oak smell with slight roasted notes in the background but hard to get much past the sour
T: tart citrus that is upfront lemon, orange but overwhelmenly sour.. probably the most sour of any beer i've ever hard. makes your face cringe a bit each sip.. not in a bad way but thats what to expect
M: nicely carbonated medium mouthfeel - wasn't sure what to expect in terms of thickness but its really nice. I claims to be a stout though so its slightly confusing. Leaves a bit of gritty teeth feeling behind

Overall very nice sour which I am definitely buying again and cellaring some. I was thinking it would be a heavier beer but its not and somewhat lacks in complexity because its so tough to get through the sourness to taste other flavors. Still loved it though

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Photo of djs467
3.35/5  rDev -19.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

2013 Vintage 750mL bottle.

A: Black night dark with a decent head and good retention
S: Sour apples and oak.
T: Sour, sour, sour, sour, sour and also sour.
M: A little bit thin and fizzy for a stout, but not for a sour, so I'm not sure what to expect here. I am assuming the base beer is a stout and then soured, so I am not sure why the body is thin.
Overall: An interesting beer and certainly one-of-a-kind, but it's not balanced enough for me. It's probably the most sour beer I've had in quite some time and the stout flavor profile is unrecognizable. If you like your sours to be sour and unbalanced, this is your beer.

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Photo of dar482
4.46/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

The beer comes in a dark black color, but not pitch black.

The aroma has tons of tartness, lactic sourness, a hint of roasty malt, and lots of vinegar.

The flavor follows with that tartness and sourness, but with a subtle punch of roasty malt a third of the way into the beer. It really is an exciting combination to get that chocolate malt balanced flavor with the bright sharp sour notes. The sourness is of plum peel and raspberries as the sourness just slowly takes over the entire tongue.

A really tasty sour that I could just drink tons of. The sweetness in there really compliments well with that puckering sourness.

(With a bottle aged a couple years, the aroma is extremely tart and sour along with the flavor. At first, you may get some of the stout/roast character, but the sourness really just stands out.)

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Photo of mrchrisray
4.19/5  rDev +0.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

Wow it's dark, hence the name I guess but I was surprised. Barely any head, big bubbles in it though.

Smells like sour fruit gummy candy, which I love. Picking up some berries and lots of sour apples. Not at all like a dark stout, and no alcoh taste.

Smooth and balanced in the mouth even with the sour. Some malts calm it down just a bit.

Definitely buy again.

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Photo of weonfire
4.36/5  rDev +4.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

2013 Version. 7 ABV, not 5.6%

A - Deep brown - almost black, finger thickness of light khaki head - dissipates quickly leaving head around rim

S - Sour/tart oak, rye, fruits: cherry/ Granny smith apple

T - Initially: Sour oak & rye, granny smith apples, currant & cherry. Finish: Chocolate & carmel roastiness and ends in sourness

M - full, thick, frothy, viscus

O - Awesome. Sour oak is excellent - cherry/currant/apple transitions to the chocolate/carmel is spectacular. Gotta downgrade on the $21 pricetag. Jester King's Funk Metal is the equivalent and is $15.

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Photo of Rimbimhoot
4.31/5  rDev +3.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

2013 Edition poured into Brew Dog snifter. Just noticed this is 7% while the 2012 Edition is 5.6%

Appearance is dark brown like a very low carbonated cola

Smell is tart cherries, very light sweetness, grapes, a little alcohol

Taste is similar to nose. Tart cherries and grapes. A mild malt backbone but the focus is the tartness. Nothing too stouty about this aside from the color. There is a light chocolate covered cherry flavor coming through.

Mouthfeel is low medium carbonation. Lingering tartness. Medium light body. Alcohol is undetected.

Overall this is another great sour from The Bruery. More complex than most sours I've tried

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Photo of Samuel906
3.93/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Well, I think this was the first "Sour Stout" that I had ever had, and I didn't really know what to expect. But it turns out to be much more Sour than Stout. And man oh man is it sour. Like face squisingly tart. Tart and crisp as pretty much any other sour I've had. Funky fermented smell, lemon, apples and the taste follows almost exactly. The only downside is that it leaves your mouth feeling gritty and weird. Lots of carbonation. Not much of the stout comes through, some mild malts if you really look for it. The sour overpowers pretty much everything else, but not in a bad way. Very good.

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Photo of emerge077
4/5  rDev -3.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to Chris for sharing, I think this is a 2012 bottle.
Served in a mini-nonic, quick review transcribed from written notes.

Dark brown with glints of ruby in the light, tan foam on the surface, with spotty lace around the edges.

Apple butter aroma with some red wine vinegar sharpness.

Very sour and puckering, salivary glands get working into overdrive. Traces of roasted malt from the stout base, and some vinous dark fruit. Heavily acidic up front, and lightly drying in the finish. Overall enjoyable in small doses, though the sourness seems a little one dimensional and overpowering at times.

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Photo of Philousa
4.64/5  rDev +11.5%
look: 4 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Pours black, brown on the edges, like Coca Cola. Head is elusive, tan in color and dissipating quickly. I get lots of fruit , particularly berries. Mostly black, boysen, and other dark berries along with black currant. Hints of roastiness and slight caramel. No hops to speak of. Tart hits right away, then the roastiness. Some coffee, dry bakers chocolate. Hops are bright, actually, with pollen/nectar. Very well balanced in feel with a very dry finish.

This is just amazing. The roast works very well with the good amount of tart. Love the berries too, since its so prevalent and they taste/smell so juicy.

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Photo of SHODriver
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

I want to say this bottle is from 2012

A: pours black with a finger and a half of light tan head that is somewhat slow to fade to a collar around the edge of an oversized wine glass
S: smells of fruity sourness, a bit of funk and some roasty notes
T: starts off with a huge shot of sourness that leads to a bit of sour cherry, some roasted notes, hints of oak and a little funk. Swallow brings a bit more tartness, some nice roasty notes, some oak and a little funk
M: medium in the mouth with slightly prickly carbonation and a drying finish from the acidity
O: this beer is very intense when it comes to the level of sourness. It was quite like being punched in the head at the first sip. It takes a bit to acclimate to how sour this beer is but it's still quite good. A very nice twist on the style of a stout and of an American Wild Ale.

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Photo of rand
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.5

From 750 mL bottle to Bruery tulip

2012 batch

A: The brew looks like completely opaque cola, and even on an aggressive pour the effervescence forms a watery head that quickly dissipates; a lot like soda.

S: But this doesn't smell anything like a Pepsi...cherries and vinegar anchor the bouquet, while honey-sweetness lingers in the backdrop. Oak and unripe berries are also noted.

T: The tart, vinegary aspects are first noticed, and they're quite puckering. Unripe berries are clearly distinct, with a touch of earthy sweetness balancing. Earthy, vinous tones work to dry the palate, along with oak. There's a subtle tobacco note beneath all of the pucker, presumably from the barrel-aging. Finishes fairly long and sour.

M: Light and bubbly on the palate, refreshing and clean.

A delicious and drinkable sour brew for anyone that's acquired a taste for such things. Serve cold, there's plenty of flavor... with warm weather this is completely refreshing.

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Photo of OWSLEY069
3.98/5  rDev -4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a deep amber to black in color with a small off white head. In the aroma, mellow tart white grapes. In the taste, sour white grapes and fruit skins. A sour bite and a lighter bodied mouthfeel, with a small dry and sour white grape in the aftertaste. Big sour and I dig it, but expecting more of a stout.

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Photo of ckollias
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed this 12oz bottle out of a standard pint glass.

A: Pours a dark blackish hue with a thick tan-brown, 2-finger head that slowlly dissipates and leaves a solid lace.

S: Strong sour tart aroma with a mild malty scent.

T: Extremely tart and sour brew. There might be a twinge of oak in there – but most just sourness.

M: Medium body and medium carbonation.

O: Phenomenal sour brew – every sip as sour as the last. A bit pricey – but worth it.

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Photo of Kjanisch7
4.98/5  rDev +19.7%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 5

A - Jet black with a thin tan head.

S - A pleasant smell of chocolate/coffee from the dark malt, and that awesome classic sour tart smell.

T - TART. Delicious cherry and fig notes. Vinegary finish with some berry notes. Nice little bourbon taste as well for an added bonus.

M - Thin body which was unexpected for the color of the beer. Moderate carbonation. Great feel and easy to drink.

D - The drinkability here is incredible. Wish I could drink this one every single day.

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Photo of JonathanC
4.94/5  rDev +18.8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.75

Tart of darkness is by far a very sour beer,but a very tasty
one too! It pours out a very dark tart, with yeast sediments laid at the bottom of the bottle, (if poured correctly). Sours aren't for everyone as some lack the tastes for it, but if you want a top sour, this sour will make your pallet numb. I wouldn't pass a batch of this up, one for aging, one for drinking!

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Photo of superspak
4.42/5  rDev +6.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

750 ml bottle into tulip glass, no bottle dating. Pours fairly pitch black color with a 1 finger dense khaki head with good retention, that reduces to a thin cap that lingers. Slight spotty lacing clings on the glass, with a fair amount of streaming carbonation. Aromas of big sour cherry, green apple, cranberry, red grape, clove, oak, pepper, cocoa, light roast, hay, leather, red wine vinegar, funk, and earthy yeast spiciness. Incredible aromas with great complexity of fruity/spicy yeast esters with moderate barrel presence, and a touch of roasted notes; with great strength. Taste of huge sour cherry, cranberry, tart green apple, red grape, pear, clove, oak, light cocoa, light roast, toast, red wine vinegar, leather, funk, and earthy yeast spiciness. Big fruity acidic sourness on the finish; with lingering notes of tart dark and light fruits, clove, oak, hay, leather, light cocoa, light roast, toast, red wine vinegar, funk, and yeast earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Incredible complexity and fruity, earthy, and acidic yeast flavors with a fair amount of roasted presence; with a very nice puckering acidity and no cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a highly acidic, lightly slick, and slightly crisp mouthfeel that is excellent. Alcohol is very well hidden with zero warming noticed after the finish. Overall this is an incredible sour ale! All around fantastic complexity and balance of flavors with big sourness; and very smooth to sip on, even with the big acidity. This was hardly representing a stout in malt backbone(no idea on age); but damn was this insane as a sour in general.

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Photo of wordemupg
4.14/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

750ml bottle poured into tulip 18/6/13 cheers liamt07 for sending the bottle

A not quite black looks like dark cola and you can see about half way to the other side under the fizzy, noisy and very short lived foam, no lace. Perhaps another dirty glass because my second pour has some retention and leaves a few random patches

S sour fruit, cherries, plums, woody notes, balsamic vineiger perhaps, some dark notes like cold coffee, coco powder and just a little licorice, quite funky

T maybe some tart raspberries, its quite sour and funky, vinous notes and wood come out a little more and I'm getting less dark roast notes then the nose

M quite sour and tart, fairly thin with enough carbonation to give it some life, slick on the gums and coats my teeth with the same grit I get from drinking dark cola, sour fruit lingers on the finish

O impressive how the sourness and barrel aging almost overwhelm the stout aspects, a little more sour and funky then I was expecting

I like this one and it has some interesting aspects but I don't know if I'd want another considering the price tag, worth a try and I'm glad I got the chance

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Photo of nickfl
4.41/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

A - Pours with a small head of tan foam on top of an opaque, black body. The head settles rapidly and leads no lace.

S - An aroma of sour cherries, caramel, plums and chocolate.

T - Tart... really tart. Notes of fig, plum, and of course dark cherries. Some darkr notes of chocolate and blackberries in the middle and a finish of cherry, balsamic vinegar and oak.

M - A fairly thin body, moderately high carbonation, and a very dry finish.

D - Very sour, very complex, and oddly drinkable. I'm more enthralled by the aroma than the flavor but both are quite good.

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Photo of kylehay2004
4.44/5  rDev +6.7%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A: pours looking like cola. No head and very, very deep amber body.

S: sweet and sour cherries, brown sugar and a little confectioners chocolate. Little else but very good.

T: Initially the sourness hits pretty hard with sour cherry and strawberry. Late the oak, milk chocolate, toffee, roasted malt and brown sugar come in but these don't linger very long with the cherry still lingering to the finish.

M: medium to thick body and high carbonation.

Overall: Very good beer. May be a little over the top sour even for the style. But flavorful and a must try.

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Photo of TallSaint
4.02/5  rDev -3.4%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

June 4th, 2013

Pours a dark black with a ruby brown tint and a thin off white head.

The nose is absurd. Licorice, roasted malt, chocolate, vinegar, lactic acid and tart red grapes are potent and heady. There are also slight undertones of oaky vanilla and a touch of bourbon.

On the palate it is gentle upfront with notes of roasted malt, chocolate and tart red grapes. The lactic acid begins to prevail midpalate with a huge, biting sourness. Vinegar and red grapes also come in underneath this sourness. It finishes with the culmination of this sourness and a roasty and fruity, yet vinegar-y, back.

Mouthfeel is medium. It is slick and smooth upfront.

Overall this is an extremely interesting beer. I do not, however, like the sheer intensity of the sourness. I feel this sourness completely overpowers the rest of the beer's flavor profile that is seen (largely) upfront on the palate. The sourness does not entirely dominate every other aspect of this beer but it is certainly the leading aspect of it. The sourness still has many flavors underneath it, of some oak, chocolate, and red grapes, but it upstages the malt body. In conclusion, I would have liked to have seen the sourness turned down a tad; with that being said, I have held on to this bottle for about 6 months so I'm not sure if this would be any less sour when its 'fresh'.

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Photo of Knapp85
3.73/5  rDev -10.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured out looking pretty good, nice dark black color with a light tan head on top. The retention is minimal just leaving a ring around the glass. There wasn't much lacing on this brew either. The smell of packed with sour notes, there is some oak in there as well. The aroma of some dark fruits come out but are quickly overwhelmed by the strength of the sourness. The taste is exactly what the label says, it's tart with a bit of the dark malts in there to balance it out a little. The mouthfeel is dry, tart and a bit thinner than I expected. Overall it's a decent beer, not worth the price tag in my opinion but was nice to share with some people.

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Photo of JohnnyHopps
4.33/5  rDev +4.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Poured into a sampler glass, the ale was an odd black color with hints of magenta streaking through the body. The aroma was a of sour fruits, mostly red berries such a cherries, cranberries and perhaps pomegranate. In the initial taste is where this beer earns some serious points. Like a jolt of electricity, one immediately notices the tart cherries. Other fruits can be detected such as pomegranate and tart cranberries. The creamy vanilla backbone that comes from the oak aging rounds the ale out nicely. It prevents the ale from becoming a sour bomb. The sour fruit continues to tickle the throat in the aftertaste. There is also a slight warming sensation which seems unusual for a 5.6%ABV. The stickiness of the mouthfeel and modest level of carbonation allows aftertaste to linger nicely. This may be the best member of The Bruery line that one can find on store shelves.

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Photo of TheBrewo
4.46/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

We crack the top on our 750mL of Batch 2 and pour a brew of the deepest ruby red-brown into our Ola Dubh tulips. A bit of light is let up around the extremes of the edges, but otherwise no haze or sediment is noted. It puts up a two finger head of creamy coffee colored bubbles, showing decent retention, and an audible fizz. Steaks of lacing are left around the glasses as it goes. The aroma gives sweetly roasted chocolate malts, soy sauce salts, light lactics, and sweet booziness as a base. Mixing high across the top are massively funky Brett twangs, soured cabernet oakiness, biting raw cherries, drying red grape skins, mild vinyls fruit punch sugariness, smoked poblano peppers and portabella mushrooms, golden honey sweetness, wet rose petals, and the mineral coolness of freshly fallen snow. Our first impression is that there is surprising smokiness to the malts, but otherwise the flavoring lives up majorly to its tart side as you would expect. As we sip, the taste begins with vinegar acidity, astringently drying and soured red grape skins, red wine oakiness, lemon flesh, and, as in the nose, that gloriously tart Brett slam. The middle comes to a peak with continued lactic and vinegar acidity, fermented souring chokecherries, blackberry fruitiness, big Brett, yeasty metallics, thin chocolate malts, soy sauce, and unfiltered apple cider sweetness and grittiness. Washing through the finish is the most pronounced oakiness of the sip, with hearty musk, dust, and moss. To balance is tart, tart yeastiness, smoky chocolate malts, hints at raw coffee beans, herbal mint, peanut dust, and generalized lactic, milky sourness. The aftertaste breathes of graphite, basement muskiness, chalky oakiness, char blackened chocolate malts, lemon zestiness, puckering Brett juiciness, apple juice, grapefruit zest and sweetness, bready plum pudding, and vinyl plastics. The body is on the thin side, and the carbonation is medium. There is excellent slurp, sip, cream, froth, and finishing pop. The mouth is initially coated with creaminess, only to be sucked dry with pucker and dense astringency from the yeast. The abv is shockingly easy, and the beer drinks very, very well.

Overall, what we enjoyed most about this beer was a tossup between the aroma and the taste, with the latter winning by a hair. From the time you crack the bottle you get this insanely complex, deep, dark, and wild aroma filling your nostrils. The “darkness” does get a bit lost here, and if you closed your eyes while whiffing you would be surprised at the beer’s color when you opened them. The taste, however, rectifies this gap. While the funk takes up a large, and continuing, portion of the sip, it leaves enough room for not only the depth and roast of the malts to shine though, but the barrel aging (spent Black Tuesday barrels) as well. The amazing thing is you can actually taste the similarities in the wood, with all that inherent dirt, graphite, and muskiness, without the intense boozy heat all soaked into Black Tuesday. This is a fantastic blend of styles and is extremely well executed. As a warning, the level of tartness and pucker here are quite high, and if you aren’t a big fan of the style, expect to be shocked.

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Tart Of Darkness from The Bruery
4.16 out of 5 based on 2,419 ratings.
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