Wandering in the Desert

Eno Sarris, March 19, 2014

Another party, another beer tasting, but this time I was tasked with bringing beers to the desert for a bunch of baseball writers. We drank into the early morning in that hotel courtyard by the airport, in small bursts of intense taste poured into hotel coffee cups. It's called class.

But we all came to the table with different predispositions, and some came with no dispositions whatsoever. Good thing this author came with a wide variety of beers, some flown in, some bought at the local beer store. There was something for everyone:

  • Pinkus Organic Unfiltered Ur-Pils
  • Almanac Sourdough Sour
  • Russian River Beatification (006)
  • Saison Dupont
  • Stone Go-To Session IPA
  • AleSmith X DIPA
  • Drake's Hopocolypse DIPA
  • Stone Matt's Burning Rosids Imperial Saison
  • The Bruery The Wanderer Dark Sour
  • Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean
  • Left Hand Milk Stout Nitro
  • Deschutes Red Chair NWPA
  • Firestone Walker Double Jack DIPA

There were some polarizing beers. The Ur-Pils, which makes some of my friends in the local beer community shrug but remains among my favorites, had a few fans. The Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean had a few fans, and they had to drink the whole thing because the others were threatening to pour theirs out. Some thought the DIPAs from AleSmith and Drake's were very hoppy. Nobody really like the imperial saison from Stone -- it really felt like a barleywine. Most liked the Saison Dupont, but a few didn't like the pepper.

For me, two beers stuck out. As a Supplication fan -- I named it my personal beer of the year last year -- of course I loved the barrel-aged version. Beatification was tart but flavorfull, with a ton of smell and an interesting mouthfeel. What a great sour.

And though I really love most of the IPAs on the list -- Hopocolypse joins a long tradition of malty hoppy west-coast DIPAs, Deschutes Red Chair is always great when fresh, and Double Jack is my desert island beer -- the second beer that most demanded my attention was The Wanderer.

Too bad some felt it was "some sort of chocolate wine abomination." For me, it was clearly best in show.

The Bruery The Wanderer Dark Sour

Appearance = 4/5

Dark amber with a tan head. You don't normally get a lot of head from a sour. This one goes away, but at least it leaves nice lacing behind.

Smell = 5/5

One of those beers where you want to smell it as much as you want to drink it. It starts with berries, but there's something smoother in there. Something velvety. Of course there's oak. Something figgy and sweet. The sour comes out in the smell, too.

Taste = 5/5

What a complex beer! Much like the taste, the blackberry comes out first. As the sour begins to build, you get notes of oak and vanilla and fig and caramel and maybe cherries and then comes the tart finish. And it's not super sour, just tart enough to clean out your palate and prepare you for that next sip.

Feel = 5/5

Dark sours are great for that medium to thicker body, good carbonation and bitter finish. That combo feels like you're having a meal in the middle, and a refreshing drink at the end.

Overall = 4.75/5

No complaints other than perhaps price. As the party proved, make sure you like dark sours before you jump into a purchase like this one. But if you do... whoo boy. Top top dark sour. My bottle had the beaver on it, not the City Beer Store logo, for what it's worth.

Eno Sarris doesn't always play daily fantasy, but when he does want a little easy fun, he uses DraftStreet. Thanks to instagram user methodvision for the header image.