Summer 2010 Vintage - Blackberry
Almanac Beer Co.

Summer 2010 Vintage - BlackberrySummer 2010 Vintage - Blackberry
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Belgian Strong Pale Ale
3.89 | pDev: 15.17%
Almanac Beer Co.
California, United States
Retired (no longer brewed)
Very Good
Summer 2010 Vintage - BlackberrySummer 2010 Vintage - Blackberry
Notes: Our golden ale reflects a dueling love of classic Belgian ales and American hops. We balance two row barley, pilsner malt and wheat with a touch of Magnum bittering hops added at the beginning of the boil, and a California-sized addition of Citra hops added at the end of the boil. This late hop addition adds a delicate grapefruit-peel aroma. We then age the beer in used oak wine barrels from California wineries with two hundred pounds of fresh Cherokee Blackberries, and another fifty pounds of Marion, Ollalie and Boysen Berries. All of our berries were hand picked at the family owned and operated Sebastopol Berry Farm.

After six months of barrel aging with the fruit, we blended the barrels back together with freshly brewed "base-beer" to reinvigorate the citrusy, hoppy aroma. Blended beer is re-fermented in the bottle to provide a final layer of complexity. Bottle conditioning provides a natural carbonation of superfine bubbles, similar to classic sparkling wines. The finished bottle is alive, and will continue to evolve and change over time, gaining nuance and character for years.
Reviews: 50 | Ratings: 81 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of macrosmatic
3.84/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Thanks to eyebereej for sending this one! While received a few years ago, after a long cellar slumber I finally opened it. Reviewed from notes (drank 10/17/16). Poured from a 750 mL bottle into an El Catador barrel-aged glass.

A: Hazy dark gold, with over a finger's worth of white head that has pretty decent retention. A good amount of visible carbonation as well.

S: Vinous, berries, and oak. Sweet malts with notes of caramel and toffee and with a bit of oxidation. Some booziness as well. It smells almost like a barleywine at this point.

T: Blackberries with mild tartness, caramel sweetness, vanilla and bready malts. Mild oxidation is again apparent. Some oak, vinous character, and a mild booziness. It ends with more caramel malt sweetness overlaid with fruity tartness and a mild amount of hop bitterness (just alpha acid at this point, but it remains mild).

M: Medium body. A lot of carbonation sensation still, and the alcohol seems more prominent than expected.

O: Still a pretty decent beer. Unfortunately, I don’t know what it once was. But at this point, it tastes like a blonde barleywine with some tart fruit in it. But still enjoyable.

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Photo of rodbeermunch
3.92/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Amber color, over an inch of white head on it. Despite the fruit additions, this one comes through with respectable clarity under any circumstance.

Aroma was mild oak, berries, mild tart.

Taste was pretty clean, no funk, yeast mild, hopping mild. I can't figure out the classification for this beer. It doesn't fit in any one category. Its like equal parts mild fruit beer, mild pale ale.

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Photo of Ryan011235
2.02/5  rDev -48.1%
look: 3 | smell: 2.25 | taste: 1.75 | feel: 2 | overall: 2

Poured into a snifter on 6/1/12

Bottled 5/29/11
Bottle No. 3065

Thanks to Nickd717

A) Clear, golden amber. Thin layer of foam with some ring retention.

S) Plastic, fake blackberry aroma, grains, and a soft oak note. Mustiness is on the low side. Light fruit tones.

T) It doesn't taste nearly as good as it smells. Dank oak turns to stale, wet swamp grass and grump, sleepy fruit suggestions. Blueberries are all but gone.

M) Light body with moderate, prickly carbonation. The finish is vinous and a tad earthy and funky.

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Photo of vfgccp
4.16/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled May 2011, opened May 2013.

A – Bright, opaque, dusty honey body. Fine, bone-white head has ok retention and lace.

S – Sweet honey, banana pudding, mixed berries, vanilla, sweet rice.

T – Sharp acidity. Lemon-lime Gatorade, fermented berries, honey, wheat, touch of oak.

M – Big carbonation on a smooth, medium frame.

O – A few years did this bottle well. Great integration on an excellent flavor profile. Another great beer from Almanac.

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Photo of brentk56
3.77/5  rDev -3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Bottle No. 344

Appearance: Pours a hazy honey golden color with a modest head that leaves some splashy lace

Smell: Blackberries and wine barrels, with Belgian yeast undertones and a grassy character

Taste: The Belgian yeast character overwhelms the front end (I read somewhere that this was the Duvel strain) with the tart blackberry aspect developing in the middle; after the swallow, the wine barrels add a tannic dryness, with the tartness of the berries bringing up the rear

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: There is a lot going on with this beer, almost too much; the yeast strain is a bit too strong for the rest of the flavors and the blackberries might be just a bit too tart without adding enough of their fruit; having tasted some other Almanac beers lately, I think this brewery is coming along from some of the elements that are distracting in this beer

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Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.91/5  rDev +0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Thanks to drewone for sharing this one at jmgrub's birthday tasting.

Bottled 5/29/11. Bottle # 1152.

Pours a murky honey orange with a foamy bone colored head that settles to a film on top of the beer. Small dots of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, honey, berries, wine, and wood. Taste is much the same with a slightly sour berry flavor on the finish. There is a mild amount of woody bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a good level of carbonation with a crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and light.

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Photo of trxxpaxxs
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Big thanks to stupac2 for this one...
Bottled 5/29/11, Bottle # 79

A: Pours a cloudy yellowish gold/peach/grapefruit with a massive amount of pure white head. The foam takes a bit to settle, and leaves a nice bubbly layer along the surface of the beer. There is a solid amount of lacing to this brew as it drinks.

S The nose is straight up funky and sour. I get a definite hit from the wine barrel aging, as well as a good helping of funky yeast. I also pick up notes of mild grain, big citrus, and some serious alcohol.

T: It's sweet to start with the funk coming on strong right after. The sweetness carries through in the middle, where it mixes with some citrus. The finish is bittersweet, funky, and a bit dry. I really don't get any blackberry at all.

M: Medium bodied beer. It looks light, but there is a good amount of heft to this one. It starts out sweet and cloying, but gets really yeast and funk-i-fied in the middle. The finish is a mix of all of those, and in the end it is a bit dry.

O: Solid beer. I remembered it more fondly the last time I tried it, but it's still a good beer. Now that I have had the opportunity to write down my thoughts, I don't think I'd seek this beer out again.

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Photo of elNopalero
4.1/5  rDev +5.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I purchased this bottle when it was released. A special occasion beer for a special occasion. And what could be more special than… Wednesday night?. Bottle #2015, bottled on 5/29/2011, poured in its proper glassware and shared on 4/25/2012.

This pours a cloudy golden-straw color with a billowy cap of foam topping it.

I pick up a traditional Belgian golden ale aroma, rounded yeasty esters—but no blackberries. To be honest the aroma isn’t spectacular, which is only to say that I had expected to be amazed by everything about this beer. Did the blackberries fade like hops over the course of a year? Where’d they go?

On the flavor I find an oak presence, almost like a chardonnay feels to me (coming from a non-wine person, admittedly). Only the most nuanced of berry notes remains, and that might be more from the power of suggestion than anything I actually can taste. Hops have faded as well. The beer is effervescent with a dry, gentle body and a finish just to the side of being resiny. No complaints regarding its body or its finish.

I found the beer grew on me as it opened up and devloped. The oak barrel ageing gave it a well-rounded character that I appreciated. While my tasting companion loved this absolutely I am not as enthusiastic about how it came out—but that doesn’t diminish my enthusiasm for the brewers or their process. A mixed review, to be sure.

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Photo of RblWthACoz
4.13/5  rDev +6.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Bottle # 3,444

From the first time I saw the Almanac website, which was my introduction to the brewery, this beer was at the top of my list of ones I hoped and wished I would get to try.

Looks very interesting on the pour. Nose is soft. Flavor seems to have many things coming together and then hitting you at once. I want to say that the variety of berries in this beer creates a somewhat muddled delivery. There is no distinct character showing through over any other. There seems to be a mild funky thing going on so far in the back of this that you have to wonder if it's waiting to make a grander appearance. I will assume that this is from the barrels. Interestingly, I had this in a wine fridge which didn't chill it down to being cold, and after it warmed up it seemed to open a bit and get more interesting.

Overall, this is a pretty good belgian ale. I think that aging this one may produce some interesting characteristics; but who can guess what that may end up being.

Beautiful design on the label too, by the way.

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Photo of bigaltemple
3.81/5  rDev -2.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

#3075 Bottled on 5/29/11

Thanks to leschkie for the LIF

A - Pours a hazy, pale straw color. Four-finger, fizzy white head slowly settles to one-finger width and remains throughout the drink. Some light patchy lacing.

S - Can't say anything is extraordinary about the nose. I do detect some oak from the barrels. Berries don't really come through, or are a little overpowered by the yeastiness.

T/M - I do enjoy it. Berries come through more and more as it warms. No sign of being 8%. Definite wine/chardonnay characteristics. Highly carbonated. Very prickly and delightful.

O - Has some very good things going for it. Liked it enough to be interested in Almanac's other "seasonals".

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Photo of chugalug06
4.17/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

A - Huge white foamy/soapy head. Mild lacing remains on the glass. Medium viscosity.

S - Very dry and champagne scented. White grape and bitter berry. Berries open up when the beer comes to room temperature.

T/M - Very dry (think champagne). No heat whatsoever. Huge white grape from the oak barrels. You can tell Chardonnay barrels were used. The berries have fell apart by this point and are very bitter and hard pressed. Perfect carbonation.

O - This is definitely the champagne of beers...The closest i've ever had... A unique brew, not for all, but quite complex and enjoyable, in a weird way. I really wished this beer was tart and forward. All-in-all, a very enjoyable beer! Thank you dsgolovin!

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Photo of Sammy
3.85/5  rDev -1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Interesting and complex creation.Dark coloured body. Yeasty initially, and then bold berry fruity flavour, finishing with abundant merlot tannin flavour, and somewhat drying. The smell did not give away the mystery of the berries. Tremendous range of flavour, best experienced at about room temperature. I could not knock this bomber off myself, but could easily do so with two or three people round a campfire.Thanks Tom.

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Photo of Beerandraiderfan
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Big thanks to cousin Mike for bringing this out Labor Day weekend. Never heard of it at the time, so glad to be in the know now.

Poured a clear light amber color, good 1.5" head, lots of clarity for a beer w/ fruit in it. Aroma was a little bit virgin oak, fruity berryness is minimal, but present, thankfully not funky or horse blanketish. Delivers ample berry flavor, with the slightest tartness. Not a sugary fruit beer, this is high quality.

Belgian yeast is very subdued. Don't let that aspect keep you away from this beer if its not your thing. I was kinda shocked to see it classified as a BSPA. The yeast and hops are not in the driver's seat.

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Photo of ibbjamin
4.27/5  rDev +9.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Received this 750ml bottle as a present and I let it sit around for a few months before pouring into a large snifter to review. Bottled 5/29/11 and bottle number 2624.

Light and fizzy white head of about an inch after a gentle pour. Great layer of retention. Head reminds me a bit of a tame saison, but the color is more of a pale IPA; cloudy and golden yellow. Some lacing.

Aroma is vinous and light fruity. White grape, blackberry, vanilla, oak, banana, butterscotch, white pepper, clove and Belgian spice all are detected. Nods at a Belgian Tripel with wine country aesthetic. Complex, pale, clean and inviting.

Taste brings on a rummy booziness to add to its complexity which is more warming than I would have anticipated with this being at what many in its style consider a modest 8%. Quite vinous, with taste bringing on an equal balance of red and white grape.

Prickly mouth from high carbonation. Not quite dry, but on its way there. Medium body and medium length rummy / vinous finish.

A great beer to enter the market and certainly one I'd recommend. I eagerly await #2 for them. Cheers!

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Photo of nickd717
4.12/5  rDev +5.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

22oz bottle.

Hazy orangish-golden color with a small white head that leaves some lacing on the glass.

The aroma is of blackberries, pepper, honey, oak, red wine, and some farmyard notes.

The flavor is very nice, with a touch of sweetness and a mild tartness. The yeast profile is distinctively Belgian with maybe even a touch of brett, and there is a peppery/spicy character to it. Blackberries are somewhat assertive and there’s just a hint of red wine. Decent oakiness.

Great mouthfeel with lively carbonation and not too much heft to it given the ABV.

This is a nice beer that has evolved in the bottle in the few months since it was released. If you didn’t care for it when it first came out, I recommend giving it a second try. Jesse and Damian are doing great things with this brewery and they’re definitely one to watch.

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Photo of pixieskid
3.95/5  rDev +1.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Wow this thing got some hate, personally never heard of it, and was happy to try it when it was offered by a few fellow expats here in Paris.

Med body, syrupy and slick, nice spritzy carbonation.
Rich and dry white wine notes upfront with touches of blackberry.
Nice citrus; lemon peel throughout with hints of woodiness and suggestions of Chardonnay. Finishes with a touch of heat, nice earthy tone, and lingering woodiness.

Overall; thoroughly impressed and thought it was an interesting beer. The blackberry was certainly underwhelming, given the advertisement on the label...I can understand some peoples frustration...don't think I would have paid the 20 bucks but am glad to have tried it and think it was pretty solid.

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Photo of claytong
4.29/5  rDev +10.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

appearance - strong pale ale typical minus a decent head and lacing.

smell - cheese and wine

taste - oak, wine, hops mmm nice. some tannins

mouthfeel - quite smooth. quite drinkable. quite interesting.

i found out this was around 20 a bottle and while i would have a hard time dishing out this kind of doe, it is still a terrific beer.

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Photo of aasher
3.28/5  rDev -15.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

This bottle was courtesy of BrewerB, thanks Brian! Kudos for hitting another want of mine and helping me knock off a new brewery. I had seen this in the first FT post about it so I looked it up. I was intrigued enough to throw it on my Wants and here we are.

It pours a nice and somewhat cloudy honey gold in color with a one finger frothy white head. It smells of Belgian yeasts, a good amount of spice, light honey, and some ever so slight blackberry syrup. I didn't get any blackberry initially and had to return to it to go on a search. At least you do get some. The flavors are full of spicy Belgian yeasts and alcohol. The alcohol is pretty overbearing. The blackberry is barely present at all. It's so faint that I can't detect if it's artificial or authentic. You have to think about it. For a beer that has blackberry in the name I had hoped it would be detectable. The longer it warms to room temp you do get more blackberry however, but should you ever have wait? It eventually even creeps into the aftertaste. It drinks like the style tends to. Overall this is a beer that fell short of expectations but was slightly intriguing. If this is $20 I would not have purchased it. It doesn't provide anything special or out of the ordinary. Wine barrel, blackberry? Please intensify.

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Photo of Arbitrator
1.79/5  rDev -54%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 2 | overall: 1.5

Chilled bottle into a glass. $20 a bottle.

A: Pours a hazy goldenrod body with fluffy off-white head. Decent retention with some lace.

S: Powerful nose of tannins, light spice, and an afterthought of blackberries. I find myself looking for some expression of the Belgian yeast or whatever went into this beer and find it lacking. $20 a bottle.

T: Remarkably tannic for something that doesn't use the word "tannic" or "oak" or "hey we aged this in barrels" in the title. This is marketed as a blackberry ale first and foremost, and the berries are totally miss-... oh, there they are. They're just weak. And they remain weak and overpowered for the duration of the bottle. Plus the beer is surprisingly sweet, like some kind of sugarcane oak juice. At least the taste presents shotgun spatter of phenols to, uh, redeem nothing. $20 a bottle.

M: Syrupy. $20 a bottle.

O: Considering the $20 pricetag, I expected a LOT more, and the numerous fake reviews inflating the score aren't appeasing my irritation. This is a poster child for the price-inflating, crap-delivering bullshit that craft beer is becoming. Skip it.

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Photo of augustgarage
3.88/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottled 5/29/2011 - #3266 - poured from a capped 750mL bottle into my Troubadour tulip.

A hazy tangerine to amber gradient supports a rocky stiff-peak fist of ivory which nearly creeps out of the glass to take a look around. Superior retention, dense 3-D tendrils of lacing.

Gentle aromatics suggest wildflowers, lemon zest, and champagne, with a very faint oak-derived funk. Low pale/pils malt notes add support.

Very unusual flavor profile with a mix of boysen,black, and other dark berry notes - surprisingly tart and remaining so as the subsequent sweetness you might expect from the fruit is replaced by a tangy white wine element. The sour flavors are balanced by yeast and accentuated by the crisp malt and fruity hops. Low phenolics and tannins arrive in the finish which is lightly oaky with a kiss of grapefruit and passion fruit from hops which present just enough bitterness to bring things to a bone dry conclusion.

Medim-bodied, soft, creamy, and effervescent mouthfeel with well integrated alcohol.

More of a fruit beer than a proper BPA, really style guidelines should be set aside when evaluating this singular ale. As others have noted, it is flavorful, unique, and fairly expensive (though not a bad value considering the time, labor, and ingredients that went into it's production). Maybe more aimed at wine afficianados than beer drinkers...still quite enjoyable and perfect with lighter summer dishes from the region.

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Photo of mactrail
4.08/5  rDev +4.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Fascinatingly weird beer that is full of fruit. The Belgian yeast does come through strongly, but I think the fruit is evident also. Barrel taste may be a bit much, but it all mellows into a slightly sweet but sharp-edged mouthful. Blackberies give an extra acidity that goes with the vanilla and woody flavor. Beautiful tall head on hazy golden amber color and well-laced around the wine glass. Fine and abundant carbonation gives a good mouthfeel.

Another peculiar experiment, but I think it's rather successful. Nothing wrong with a winey, fruity beer with such a pleasant creamy feel to it.

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Photo of AgentZero
3.5/5  rDev -10%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Thanks to Chris aka spycow for sharing this one.

A - Yellow colored beer, poured with a small, white head that had decent retention and faded to a partial ring.

S - This smells pretty good to begin with. There is some nice tartness and blackberries. The wine barrels give it some added complexity that make for a pretty pleasant aroma.

T - It starts out sweet with a small about of blackberry taste and a little bit of wine. Unfortunately it ends rather harshly, with considerably too much phenolic ethers on the finish, making it not very enjoyable to drink.

M - Syrupy, medium bodied, moderate carbonation.

O - Not great. Smell was pretty promising, but the taste just went south and didn't deliver. They should make another beer.

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Photo of seand
4.18/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

A: Pours a bubbly clear amber with a mountain of dense foamy off white head. Quite a bit retains well, and leaves thick walls of lacing.

S: Thick, earthy sweetness, with notes of citrus, vegetation, and funk.

T: Subdued and balanced, tart fruit with yeast notes leading into a lightly bitter finish.

M: Medium body, medium carbonation.

Overall very nice. It doesn't do anything too crazy, is well crafted and balanced, and yet is also unique.

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Photo of DovaliHops
4/5  rDev +2.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a hazy golden color with a medium white head...was expecting something a little more "fruit colored". Scent is faint blackberries, Belgian yeast, and spiciness. Very unique smell. Taste is initially oak barrels...The oak flavors is what standout in this beer for me. The blackberries (and other berries) don't really shine as I wish they would have. There is a noticeable booziness to this beer as well. Mouthfeel is medium bodied with a crisp finish. Drinkability is fairly high. Overall, this was definitely a drinkable beer that had many high notes...some parts were just different (weird) and unexplainable. By no means was this a mediocre can tell how well-crafted it is.

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Photo of Scrumtralecent
4.37/5  rDev +12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Thanks to leschkie for the extra! Bottled 5/29/11, Bottle 767, poured from a bottle into a tulip.

A - Hazy golden yellow, with plenty of carbonation bubbles rising inside of it. Pretty thick white head that lingers and does some lacing. Small head sticks all the way through tasting, impressive.

S - Nice floral aroma, with sweetness from the wine barrels. The fruitiness of the beer from the blackberries is apparent, and makes this beer very appealing to take a taste of. This has a good aroma, and the berries and wine aging give it more punch than most.

T - Delicious sweet berry flavor along with a nice crisp Belgian flair, and ending with some of that wine coming through and a little heat. As it warms, some oak shines through and adds even more complexity to the taste and aftertaste. Has a light malt to give this some backbone and not make the taste so front loaded. Very complex and well developed. The flavors compliment each other very well.

M - All the berry and wine sweetness makes this sit a little heavier, but that's the sacrifice when there is so much loaded in the taste. Carbonation is good all the way through.

O - Wonderful. Crisp flavors along with some sweetness that created a bold and complex taste. Great balance between the Belgian side, blackberries, and wine so that they played more with each other than dominated one another. I'm looking forward to more from this brewery after this offering.

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Summer 2010 Vintage - Blackberry from Almanac Beer Co.
Beer rating: 86 out of 100 with 81 ratings