Oregon summer series: beer #5

8 Sep

pretty sweet looking for a sour

Sometimes things just work out.  Sometimes you make a beer selection and it coincides with some information you just learned about the beer/brewer/brewery.  Sometimes it just happens to occur with one of the best beers you have tasted in all of 2012.  This is one of those times.  Maybe I shouldn’t have given up on summer so quickly…

The fifth beer in my summer series just happened to be related to a documentary I recently watched called The Love of Beer.  If you are not familiar with the movie, its focus is women in the brewing industry.  One of the very talented women to be showcased in the film is Tanya Cornett, former head brewer at Bend Brewing Company who now plies her talents for 10 Barrel Brewing.  It just so happens that the beer I have chosen, Ching Ching, is a beer Tanya conceived and brewed at Bend Brewing before leaving for 10 Barrel.  Oh…and it also won Gold at the 2012 World Beer Cup in the American Sour category.  For a nice write-up on Tanya and a little more info on Ching Ching, see this Wall Street Journal article from last year.  I had Ching Ching for the first time this year on our well-documented trip to Bend to try beer.  I walked out of the brewery with six bottles when we left.  It’s safe to say that I am a big fan of this unique take on a Berliner Weisse.

Ching Ching has an incredible pink hue that is brighter and sharper than the Widmer Marionberry Hibiscus Gose I reviewed recently.  They both have hibiscus in the brew, which helps explain the color, but Ching Ching has a pomegranate syrup in it that I’m guessing enhances its look.  The smell is dominated by the hibiscus and it’s lovely.  My brother and I used to make agua de jamaica back home, which is a hibiscus iced tea.  It’s super floral and sweet, perfect for refreshing yourself on hot days in the desert.  This beer is a very powerful reminder of that smell and taste, which probably explains why I love it so much.  The beer is tart, not so much sour.  Not sure how that sounds to you, but it makes sense in my head.  It’s a soft tartness, not a punch-in-the-mouth sourness that some beers have.  I think it’s probably the difference between the use of Lactobacillus in this beer, and the use of Brettanomyces in other sours that I have had (Belgians, etc.).  The pomegranate is not really evident in the taste, but there are small hints of it on the tongue after you drink it.  The body is light and refreshing, with a slight lingering of the sourness, and a finish of the grain that was used (not sure what it was).

Not only is this beer refreshing, but it’s damn tasty.  It may be “an American take on a sour”, but this is a unique piece of craftsmanship that deserves your attention, should you ever get the opportunity to try it.  Not sure if it will ever be made again, but apparently Tanya has bought back into Bend Brewing Company as a brewing consultant, so maybe she’ll help them try this sucker out again for next year.  If you happen to see it in Bend sometime, make sure to try it.  I’ve got my last one (potentially) reserved for next weekend.

Up next: Flat Tail Seriously Low Budget Series-Sour Hibiscus Ale (sense a theme?)

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