Thursday, April 28, 2011

Founders - Cerise

I do not believe that my experience for this bottle is a typical one.  This does not make especially good or bad, but it there is no doubt that it is different.  I believe this difference stems from the "Bottled on" date on this particular bottle of Cerise: 06/02/2010.  This date puts the beer in this bottle at almost 11 months old.  I did not buy this beer on sale, nor was it part of a pick six.  It came in its own 4-pack from my trusty wine & liquor store.    A brewery like Founders has a lot of respect in the craft brew world, hence an experience like mine I will chalk up to an aged beer and not Founders' lackluster efforts at brewing a particular style.  I shall leave you in mystery no longer.  Let's pour!

Picture is my own.  Bottle art image used without permission for educational uses only.
Aroma 5/12
The only smell is that of IPA-esque hops.  Definitely not what one expects when taking a sniff of a "cherry fermented ale" (as claimed on the bottle).  The label on the neck claims 15 IBU's, but this scent would have one guess a much, much higher rating.  The hops' aroma overwhelms everything else.  Once the head dies, one can faintly detect a tart cherry aroma hiding amongst the hops.

Appearance 3/3
Color is a orange-gold that is made a bit darker by the haze also inside the glass.  The haze is not caused by any sediment.  A large fluffy head tops the glass, remains there for an extended period and leaves some lovely lacing on the glass.  Top marks all around.

Flavor 17/20
This is not what one looks for when expecting to sip a nice glass of cherries, but that does not make it a bad thing.  The initial flavor is the tart sweetness of authentic cherries, but is followed very quickly with the IPA-esque hops from the aroma.  The sweet and bitter never end up complimenting each other perfectly, but do eventually find a balance.  The balance (not the flavor!) is reminiscient of, say, a cherry whiskey.  Cherry is present, but so is a strong other flavor as well.  Not perfectly complimentary, but definitely a unique sensation.   

Mouthfeel 4/5
A pleasantly heavier body than one usually finds in a fruit-based brew.  The body can be classified as medium, with a high level of small, dense carbonation.  Because the carbonation bubbles are so small, it avoids becoming prickly and does the beer a great service.  A lightly slick feeling and a bit of warmth can be felt in its finish.

Overall Impression 5/10
This bottle has clearly sat too long and altered the brewer's hard work.  The label claims 15 IBUs and at that level should be nearly undetectable.  However, the hops are not only present, but nearly dominating in this bottle.  The beer is still top notch in some categories, but its "new" flavor has taken its toll on the rest.  A unique taste that may not be found by this taster again, but that is not exactly a terrible tragedy.

Total 29/50 (Good)
This rank still puts this brew at the top of the "Good" category, oddly enough.  While the flavors that were present may not have been entirely appropriate, they were still good flavors (not acidic, metallic, skunky, rotten, etc).  The strong technical nature of the beer (good carbonation, solid body, perfect appearance, etc) keeps this beer's score high, despite its style-blending flavor and aroma.  I have never had a hopped-up fruit beer and I doubt I ever shall again.  While I know I should not say that given the experimental nature of craft brewing and the adamant demand from some circles for progressively hoppier beers, but it is not a beer I would see going "main stream" (e.g. being sold in four packs at my local wine & liquor store).  At best it would be a lone vat made at a brew pub or a "special blend" released on a small scale to a brewery's local following.  I don't know if this result could be repeated by "cellaring" a Founders Cerise for 11 months, but it may be worth a try for those who are seeking to blend two very different styles of beer.

Final word?  Hopped-up fruit beer.  Interesting, but not something I'd seek.

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