Wicked Weed Brewing Benevolence Barrel Aged American Sour Ale

I’ve been on a pretty serious sour beer kick lately. The whole style just fascinates me every time I try a new brew. There’s just something about a beer that’s left alone to do its own thing in a barrel for several months that blows me away. I guess it’s the aspect of not knowing exactly what it’s going to taste like once it’s done or how different things added to it will affect the flavor. Either way, the rise in popularity of sour beers has brought a plethora of brewers into the style to see what they can do and how well they can do it.

A few weeks ago I was in Atlanta and decided to stop at a bottle shop on my way back home. I have had Wicked Weed a few times, but never anything that was worth more than saying “yeah, I’d drink that again” and definitely never “I need to tell the world about this.” Hesitations aside, I decided to browse the Wicked Weed offerings (since it’s distributed there and not in Alabama) and I stumbled across Benevolence, a barrel-aged sour that’s brewed with aged hops. I’m in. Can’t get into this fast enough. In hindsight, I probably should have let it set a bit longer to age a bit more, but I couldn’t wait any longer. So, while Alabama was playing Tennessee, I decided to start my celebration a little early and broke this one out. Here are my thoughts:

I poured the beer into a tulip glass and first noticed the deep, hazy copper color with about two finger widths of white head. The beer seemed a lot more effervescent than I normally care for, but it made the aroma really shine. The head slowly descended and left a thin film around the top of the glass with some incredible lacing as I drank.

The aroma was quite interesting and unlike similar beers in the style. First you can tell that the beer is sour, like real sour, but in a good way. You get some slight fruity notes along with an earthy aroma that blends with a faint hint of oak. This is good, because if you’re barrel-aging something, I hope to smell that oak.

Taste only slightly mimicked the aroma, but it mimicked the high points for sure. I got mostly fruity flavors, like orange and raspberry; it’s a very sharp and assertive sour taste. You can almost taste a bit of apple cider vinegar flavor coming through about midway, but that quickly changes. At the end of each sip, the beer starts to develop this intense creamy, almost oaky flavor that mellows out all the sourness and makes it extremely easy to drink. The beer finishes very dry and leaves a subtle tartness on your tongue that almost resembles a sour candy or a tart fruit. The taste is much more interesting that I’m probably describing, but it’s one of those things like “you have to be there” or similarly “you have to taste this.” There are earthy notes mixed with fruity flavors that blend into a sour, barnyard-like taste (very musty and slightly grassy) but all come together to be very refreshing and very, very tasty.

Mouthfeel is, like I said, very carbonated; almost like a kombucha. It’s tart, yet creamy, earthy, yet sweet. This is definitely a very interesting taste profile as well as an interesting feeling beer to drink. I’m definitely ready to drink another one.

Overall, this is super weird, but in the best way possible. There’s so many things going on that it’s hard to pinpoint one thing to talk about, but if you’re familiar with sour beers, you may be able to pick apart different tastes and all of the interesting quirks that make this beer so good. The barrel-aged component comes through, thankfully, really strong, and I’m sure a lot of that earthy flavor I was getting is coming from the aged hops, but it was welcomed. I could definitely see myself buying this one again, and at $12.99 per bottle, it’s a priced a little high but definitely worth it. So, if you see it, get it, drink it, and enjoy.


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