The Bruery Tart of Darkness, 5.6% abv sour stout
Beers from Orange County’s The Bruery are rare to the point of mythical here in the UK, so when the BrewDog shop listed the barrel aged sour stout, Tart of Darkness, amongst it’s guest beers I placed an order that minute! Then I waited. And waited. The days dragged on I began to fear the worst, I had visions of the brave delivery driver falling foul to the myriad of trials and terrors that lurk on the Staffordshire country lanes. Maybe they were seduced by wood nymphs, or devoured by a pack of cannibalistic feral children! But then on the seventh day a parcel arrived, hurrah! My nerves were far from soothed however, because now that the two months of rain had ended the neighbouring villages would be sending out their raiding parties. Hairy, crazy eyed Wildmen and women, whoopin’ and hollerin’ atop their trained war geese. As it turned out the rest of the week passed rather uneventfully, and on a beautiful, sunny Sunday I settled down to open this treasure…
The deep, dark brown liquid rolls into my trusty glass, the thin beige head bubbling like soap suds before fading to nought but a trace. My nose twitches in anticipation as I lean in and inhale, the tartness tickles, there’s red fruits, cherries and plums, a good whiff of wood and a hint of vanilla. I don’t get any roastiness at first, but on a second attempt it’s there, shy, reluctant almost, but there.
A sip and my face puckers, the sourness hits like a lemon juice filled water balloon. The cherries and plums are there, and undertones of mildly charred oak, like someone decided to pickle a load of red fruit in a musty old barrell. Whilst the shy roast is glimpsed only occasionally as it peeks from behind the curtains to observe the craziness goin’ on, the tartness is dancing on the tables all the way to the long, dry finish. The medium body and virtually non existent carbonation feel rather luscious in the mouth, it’s a pleasure to drink.
This is a sour ale first and foremost, and anyone looking for a more traditional high end stout really should look elsewhere. Having said that, I found that as the beer warmed over the couple of hours it took me to drink it the rather hidden stout-like characteristics became more obvious, barely a smidgen, but enough to add another level of complexity and greater balance. It’s a really quite remarkable beer and I enjoyed every delicious, eye squinting drop. Only the price and limited availability would prevent me from buying it again. That and the ever present threat of geese-riding raiders of course.