Reviewed: pFriem Bosbessen Blueberry Lambic-Style Ale
Official description: Bosbessen is made by blending 1, 2, and 3 year old lambic onto fresh Draper blueberries grown just up the road in Odell at a rate of 3 lbs. per gallon. We then added them to our established lambic at a whopping 2 lbs. per gallon. The fruit and the lambic were then left alone to mingle for more than six months. They are now one.
Malt: Gambrinus Canadian Pilsner, Weyermann Wheat, Rahr Raw White Wheat, Mecca Grade Wikiup Red Wheat. Hops: Aged Czech Saaz. Yeast: Brettanomyces, Lactic Bacterial Culture Wood: French Oak. Fruit: Hood River Valley Blueberries. 6% ABV, 6 IBUs.
pFriem Family Brewers – pFriem Bosbessen Blueberry Lambic-Style Ale – 375ml bottle served in wine stemware – 6% ABV
pFriem continues to impress as they raise the bar for various styles like IPAs, lagers, saisons, and barrel-aged sours. Bosbessen is the first blueberry sour I’ve had from pFriem and one of only a few blueberry sours I’ve had period. Given the extreme hype around Cantillon Blåbær, it’s surprising how few breweries take a stab at this niche style. Wicked Weed, Upland, Cascade, Almanac, and I’m sure a few others have made a barrel-aged blueberry sour. However, the ones I’ve tried in the past from American brewers have been mouth-puckering and way over-the-top acidic.
pFriem produces several barrel-aged sours inspired by the Flanders region of Belgium, its northern, Dutch-speaking portion; such as their Oud Bruin, Flanders Blonde, and Flanders Red Kriek. This year’s Bosbessen, I believe, is a slightly modified recipe from last year with a different grain bill.
I’m sampling this from a corked & caged 375ml bottle that sports pFriem’s regal aesthetic. The beer name is on the neck label only while the textured paper label has a blue bottom portion that reads “Lambic-Style Ale.” pFriem’s cherry sours have a red bottom portion, for instance, which is a neat touch. On the reverse label is a bottling date of 3/7/19, which puts it out of the freshness window range for most normal beers, but these barrel-aged sours have incredible shelf-life – several years at least if you have the patience.
Into my glass, Bosbessen is a hazy, glorious purple color with light purple foam. (You don’t see that every day.) There’s significant sediment at the bottom of the bottle that I opted not to toss in. Bringing up the glass, there’s a surge of powerful dark berries with a mix of blueberry cobbler, blackberries, and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Digging in, Bosbessen immediately impresses with its tempered acidity. Thanks, I’m sure, to some careful blending of barrels, pFriem has given this lambic a “half-sour” flavor that I adore. You are able to dive deep into this beer without bracing acidity overwhelming the palate. Spicy, peppery barrel notes couple with tannic and phenolic berry skins. It has a superb vinous character that reminds me of excellent Cabernet wine. Just a touch of residual sweetness gives you this outstanding blueberry pie flavor that other more acidic blueberry sours fail to achieve.
Super high carbonation is the secret weapon that makes this such a joy to drink. In the finish, powerful barrel flavors continue to pile-on for a nicely dry, almost wooly finish.
Perceived Specs for pFriem Bosbessen Blueberry Lambic-Style Ale
Bosbessen is truly a masterpiece and easily the best blueberry sour I’ve had apart from maybe Cantillon Blåbær. (And even then, that beer can be a bit over-the-top acidic.) Bosbessen lavishes you with deep, dark berry notes that capture the peppery, phenolic bite of blueberry skins as well as the sweet, dessert flavors of the juice. Its masterful blending of batches gives you my sought-after “half-sour” flavor. Acidity is exceptionally low for a barrel-aged sour ale, which allows barrel and fruit flavors to burst forth unencumbered.
As stated above, most blueberry sour renditions are far too sour to compare with Bosbessen.
* * *
The Full Pint is a fully independent website dedicated to bringing you the highest quality reviews of today’s craft beer. Our team has no financial conflicts of interest with the beer industry in order to give you the least biased information out there in today’s craft beer world. Please use the comment section below for general comments about this beer and/or our review. If you would like to see a specific beer reviewed or have general comments on reviews, please email info(at)thefullpint.com. For more information on how we review beer read here.