Belle Royale - Sour Cherry Wild Ale | Driftwood Brewery

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Belle Royale - Sour Cherry Wild AleBelle Royale - Sour Cherry Wild Ale

Brewed by:
Driftwood Brewery
British Columbia, Canada

Style: American Wild Ale

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.00%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by Rutager on 03-21-2013

This beer is retired; no longer brewed.

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Ratings: 70 |  Reviews: 25
Photo of Justindouglas7
5/5  rDev +18.2%

Photo of ThirstyDutchman
5/5  rDev +18.2%

Photo of smekermann
5/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

Jesus Christ, I haven't been this impressed with a beer since... I don't even know. Since Hop Therapy, maybe? Actually, I don't know if impressed is the right word in this case; awestruck would be more like it. This is hands-down the best sour beer I've tried in BC. I'll try to keep this review to as little gushing as possible, though, because I hate writing reviews where I just fellate the beer. It'll probably be pretty hard, tho.

Anyway, bottle date was 03/12/13. If it were any fresher, it'd be straight from the barrel (or whatever the hell container they use to age it two years in French/Appalachian oak). It pours this dark red color, with a rosé head that looks absolutely delicious. Microcarbonation abound, leaving tiny lines of bubbles along the glass. It looked so delicious I was salivating, probably due in no small part to looking almost identical to Cantillon's Lou Pepe Kriek, which is one of the best krieks I've ever had the pleasure of tasting.

Smell was funky brett and fairly subdued sour cherries. This is probably the weakest aspect of the beer, since it doesn't smell quite as amazing as it tastes.

Taste was kinda weird at first, because I had just had a Duchesse de Bourgogne for old times' sake and all I could really taste was the brett funk/sourness. I then cleansed the old palate with some nice brie cheese and that's when it hit me: smooth, creamy, delicious sour cherries. They're very subtle; it doesn't bludgeon you with the taste of them (like Duchesse which, while a very fine beer in its own right, is not very subtle in its aromas), but they're absolutely amazing to behold. It ends on a slightly hoppy, earthy note, which balances out the sourness quite nicely. Mouthfeel is smooth as heck. Velvety carbonation coats the tongue.

Overall, I think this may be my favorite BC beer thus far, hands down. Sours (and wild ales, especially) are not easy beers to make; in fact, they're probably the most difficult style to get right. That Driftwood not only managed to not screw it up, but actually made one so goddamn good is absolutely mind-blowing. I keep thinking they can't surprise me any further, and yet they keep doing just that with almost every single seasonal they release. Still, though, regardless of whatever else they release, I doubt anything will come close to this absolute gem of a beer. If I were a millionaire like Henry Ford I'd probably buy up all stock of this for private consumption. Nobody is more deserving of drinking this than I am. Have I mentioned that this beer is 8% and yet it feels like it's maybe 5%, if that? You think you're doing great and then you start rambling on in reviews on BA.

edit: No, I'm sorry. I hate doing this but I have to give this beer a 5 across the board. I had originally rated it a 4.75, but it's just too damn good to rate it that low. I've had three bombers of it so far; I kept trying to think of faults and I really can't find any. I admit I haven't tried any of Russian River's wild ales recently so I don't know how it compares to those, but it's the best wild ale I've had in a really long time, maybe ever. There's no way this beer deserves a lesser rating. It just seems to be a beer to come back to again and again, and every time I have it I remain impressed with its complexity of aromas and character. It truly is a gem of a beer.

 3,349 characters

Photo of seldomseen
4.75/5  rDev +12.3%

Photo of JasonLovesBeer
4.68/5  rDev +10.6%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

I've had quite a few bottles of Belle now, and have put it up against a few other beers now. I've also introduced it to friends, my brother, and my father. Basically, now that I think about it, I've treated it as if it were my girlfriend.

Nose: Fresh but very tart cherry profile with that great funky sour brett character. The fizz of the beer helps throw its scent at you as you near the surface of the beer. There is apple and pear skin present as well, also very tart of course.

Taste: No disappointment to be found. I so badly wanted this to have some muscle and it does - the cherry sweetness enters first, dragging behind it a good dose of sour, gently puckering. The sour lasts well through the finish but the cherries and sweetness keep around enough to balance things out as well. That signature brettanomyces aftertaste is present once all is said and done, just the right amount I would say.

Overall: I am totally pleased with this beer, it's exactly what I wanted it to be. It's powerful enough to be fully interesting and satisfying, but it's gentle enough to be extremely drinkable and even guardedly sessionable.

 1,134 characters

Photo of Rutager
4.56/5  rDev +7.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

A new version of this beer. This time it's a sour wild rather than a Belgian strong according to the labels. Not sure why they'd keep the name considering it's a very different beer with this second release. I almost didn't buy it because I wasn't a huge fan of the first (though it was a very well made beer).

Bottled 3/12/13, as shown on the snazzy new cap.

Appearance. Pours a very deep, hazy rusty-red with almost 2 fingers of pale rusty-pink head.

Smell. Sweet and tart cherries, some woody funk, and a slight metallic, almost blood-like smell.

Taste. Ripe big juicy tart cherries, leathery barrel wood, some dry musty funk, a bit of almond, and a touch of dry red wine and ear wax (please don't ask how I know, I'm not even sure myself). ABV is incredibly well hidden even with the somewhat mild sourness. The juicy fruit flavour is just incredible and if it wasn't for the very slight metallic taste, this would be pretty much perfect .

Mouthfeel. Medium+ body, smooth and creamy low carbonation.

Overall. This is one truly excellent beer. I really wasn't expecting this and am completely taken aback. Probably the best Driftwood beer I've tasted to date (taking account of my overly enthusiastic early reviews), and with this brewery that is extremely high praise. Well done Driftwood!!

 1,301 characters

Photo of chickenm
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of distantmantra
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of liamt07
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of CaptainQ
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of Kurmaraja
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of BeerWorld
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of IanSpindler
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of Axnjxn
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of DaftCaskBC
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of Groulxsome
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of scameron
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of rodrigueZflyingf0x
4.5/5  rDev +6.4%

Photo of SebD
4.48/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance: It has a nice hazy dark red color to it. It has a nice light pink head that dies down somewhat fast and leaves next to no lacing.

Smell: The aromas definitely give out hints of cherries, strawberries, some sour notes, funky Yeast, oak and a slight metallic note.

Taste: Like the aromas, it has tart cherries, some strawberries, funky Yeast, some woody oak, a hint of red wine and a slight metallic note.

Mouthfeel: It has a low carbonation with a nice overall balance and feel.

Drinkability: It's a very smooth drinkable beer accompanied with great flavors and aromas.

 587 characters

Photo of Derek
4.44/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

They say they've aged this for us, so enjoy it now. I'm guessing they had some Pedicoccus that they cleaned up with Brett... in a very nice way!

A: Dark cherry red, pours with a few bubbles, not really any head.

S: Funky, sour cherry-like aroma.

T: An extremely pleasant funk (I'm not getting any Lactobacillus which I'm not keen on). It's somewhat fruity, but the cherry has really been fermented out. Very crisp, but not overly acidic.

M: Highly attenuated with a crisp, dry finish. Very light acidity.

O: World class.

 526 characters

Photo of TheSevenDuffs
4.42/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to FondueVoodoo for this bottle!!!
Poured in to tulip.

A - Deep cherry red in colour with one finger of cherry-brown coloured head.

S - Big sour cherry aroma with some sweet bready notes and a big oak barrel presence.

T - A nice tartness up front (not sour) with ripe sour cherries. A sweet breadiness comes through mid-palate along with toasted oak. No pucker at all in this one, just a nice, inviting tartness with a big sour cherry presence.

M - Medium body with some chew. Dry. Light carbonation.

 514 characters

Photo of wordemupg
4.41/5  rDev +4.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

650ml bomber poured into tulip 2/4/13, Massive cheers for Parker who randomly showed up with a case of Driftwood and in all likelihood will never read this

A very dark red liquid leaning towards purple with a short lived light pink foam that sits for a few sips and leaves a random patch of lace, I'll admit the color and pink foam works for me

S the cherries very strong but pumps out plenty of raspberry, strawberry and just a hint of purple grape, almost like sherbert topped with jolly ranchers, it has a candy like aroma but missing much of the sugar. The "Wild" aspects hard to miss with a healthy blast of brett but not overly sour, some vanilla and oak work well and I've fallen in love with the aromas coming out of my glass

T the fruity aspects toned down just a little compared to the nose but that leaves plenty, a little jammy and more earthy notes coming from the barrel, I'm loving the taste but it couldn't quite match the nose

M well carbonated after two years of barrel aging and has a sour twang but its far from turning my mouth inside out, slick on the gums with no booze to mention, very long finish of woody, funky fruit

O the nose is near perfection and I have nothing to complain about elsewhere, a sour without the pucker and the fruity notes are wonderful, this brews put together with some serious skill

Driftwood just blows me away with everything they bottle and this is no exception. I find it funny that my non-beer geek buddy brings me a box of beers that I've already set up trades for with no idea what he's just bought off the shelf. I'm very stoked that I'm going to have another bottle of this coming in the mail, even though it says to "drink fresh" I have a feeling the Brett's just getting started

 1,748 characters

Photo of Ericbeech_87
4.39/5  rDev +3.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Heard that this one was limited so I went to buy it and they only had one left. So I nabbed it real quick.

Poured from a 650ml bottle into a tulip.

Appearance: Copper to red. Rich red with hints of purple. Nice coloured head at a reddish white hue. Fades very quickly to minimal head. Minimal lacing.

Aroma: Big notes of cherry with strong sour hints.

Taste: Quite sour with nice notes of cherry. Nice taste not too tart and a good sweetness to tart ratio. Hop notes not noticeable. Minimal barley notes.

Mouthfeel: Very thick mouth feel like velvet and medium carbonation. Similar to the feel of fruit leather.

Overall: An excellent Wild ale. The yeast contributes beautifully to the tartness of the beer.

 714 characters

Photo of Brewji
4.37/5  rDev +3.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

This is a limited edition brew from the wonderful folks at Driftwood Brewery, in Victoria. They're famous for producing one of Canada's best IPA brews, called Fat Tug. However, this time they went a little a good way.

I got my hands on a 650mL bottle of the Belle Royale - Sour Cherry Wild Ale from Driftwood Brewery (8% ABV). I was so excited to dive into this one, because after trying such champion brews like Fat Tug, Crooked Coast, and Farmhand, I was tempted to see if they'd finally produced a beer I might not like, or if they continued their strength.

Keep in mind, this is a sour brew, and it's 8% ABV. This is probably going to hit like a slap in the face, but I'm down if it's from Driftwood.

On first pour, it's a deep, dark red colour while pouring, but settles into the glass looking like a dark ale. The aroma smells like cherry. Straight up big hits of cherry, but there are also sour notes looming among the cherry.

The taste is very sour -- it hit me harder than I thought it would. But it balanced out right away with just enough sweetness to balance the tart. It sort of tastes like one of those Sun Rype fruit leather things infused in a fruity dark ale, in a good way. There's a sweetness of fruits, perhaps not just cherries. There are some wood-like notes (maybe oak?) in it as well. However, it did have a slightly funky taste to it.

Does that make sense? Just be careful, it's a strong brew, so one glass will probably be good for sipping. Definitely not a "hey-look-at-how-fast-I-can-drink-this!" type of brew.

There's a moderate carbonation to the brew, and it's really a side-step to most beer produced by any major brewery in Canada. If you're new to taking a step away from an econo-lager, I'd recommend something else first. This might be too much for a newbie to handle. However, if you're really game, go for it!

I'm not sure if this is still available anywhere, but if you find it, go for it. It's a unique brew experience that any craft beer appreciator should enjoy.

P.S. I used the last table-spoon or so of my brew, and mixed it with Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream that I found in my freezer. It was incredible.

 2,163 characters

Photo of Phyl21ca
4.36/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle: Poured a deep reddish color ale with a large foamy head with good retention and some lacing. Aroma consists of intense cherry notes with some tart flavours and some light sweet undertones. Taste is a wonderful mix between some intense cherry notes with some tart notes that are well a balanced against some residual sugar notes. Oak and light vinous notes are also noticeable. Body is quite full with limited filtration. Very enjoyable beer which is almost a mix between Rodenbach and New Glarus.

 504 characters

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Belle Royale - Sour Cherry Wild Ale from Driftwood Brewery
4.23 out of 5 based on 70 ratings.
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