An introduction to sour beer: Petrus Oud Bruin

Petrus Oud Bruin

Flanders Oud Bruin (sour brown ale), 5.5%

Belgium

For the salt and vinegar potato chip loving, malt vinegar French fry craving, sour apple candy enthusiasts, imagine a deeper, darker version of that tart, tangy goodness, served in a tulip glass.

Enter Petrus Oud Bruin, an ale crafted in the Flemish tradition by Belgian brewery Bavic de Brabander. Flemish ales are characterized by a mild to extreme sourness attributable to the presence of atypical brewing yeasts or lactic aids from barrel aging. In the case of Petrus Oud Bruin, it's a little of both. After the initial fermentation process, the brew is aged in oak casks for 20 months, blended in a manner similar to Scotch, and then treated to a secondary fermentation in the bottle.

When poured, the opaque brown body shimmers with flecks of amber, shows no signs of sediment usually present in bottle conditioned ales, and appears nearly uncarbonated, with only a few small patches of very tiny, inactive bubbles.

The impact of barrel aging is apparent to the nose. Woodsy and vinegary scents dominate with mild traces of vanilla.

The first taste is pleasantly dry and sour with a tongue tingling acidity like grapefruit flesh, only darker in flavor. After a few more swallows, the tingling turns into a soft fuzziness that permeates every surface area inside your mouth. It wouldn't be a stretch to compare it to a micro dose of oak- and vinegar-infused Novocain. Delicious Novocain, that is.

Mouthfeel is light, almost like a dunkel lager, which lends to a lack of sweetness and enhances the vinegary characteristics. The finish is earthy and long; it tastes the way an unlit cigar smells.

As far as sour ales go, this one is fairly mild. If you're feeling curious and adventurous, Petrus Oud Bruin might serve as a nice introduction. Although, it's still funky enough to be something of an acquired taste. The sharp flavors might seem bizarre and inappropriate, especially to sour beer virgins, but give the brew a few more sips and some time to warm. Once the initial taste frenzy subsides and the brew's true character begins to emerge, you'll be helplessly hooked. Cheers!

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