Reviewed: The Rare Barrel Blurred CsT
Official description: After processing the grape clusters from our Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon, we used fresh beer to capture the flavor that would otherwise have been wasted and left in the skins. Blurred CsT is a tart saison echoed on wine grapes and aged in oak. The resulting blend is a beverage with low tannin, light body, and a touch of acidity. Hints of cherry blossom, melon, and dried figs highlight the unique qualities that fresh, whole grapes can contribute.
The Rare Barrel – The Rare Barrel Blurred CsT – 750mL bottle served in Rastal Harmony glass – 7.5% ABV
The Rare Barrel (Berkeley, CA) is an all-sour beer company. I first tried their beer back in 2014 and was immediately impressed. Given their acidity and large format bottles, most Rare Barrel beers I’ve tried have been in tasting settings. Blurred CsT is the first beer from them that I’ve been able to sit down with for a prolonged period and really appreciate in detail.
I’m reviewing Blurred CsT from a 750ml capped bottle that cost around $23. Into my glass, this beer presents as clear, raspberry-colored pinkish red with light pink foam that fizzles out rapidly like soda. The aroma here is a beautiful mix of fresh cherries, strawberry rhubarb pie, sweet pound cake, and powerful grape skins. Though it is made with Tempranillo and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, the aroma reminds me of Pinot Noir: a bit more red berry forward with low phenols.
Digging in, Blurred CsT rewards with an effervescent mouthfeel and exquisite balance. Overall acidity is much lower than expected, perhaps through blending with less sour or non-sour beer. Some residual sweetness allows bright red fruit and black pepper flavors from the grapes to pop. Meanwhile, tannic grape skins provide firm bitterness, something that is missing in most other sour ales. Moderate salinity both adds to the balance of flavors and gives the beer a nice buoyancy in the palate. Pinot Noir flavors continue as Blurred CsT is lighter-bodied and relatively nuanced with moderate tannin. It then finishes tart and zippy – making you beg for more.
Perceived Specs for The Rare Barrel Blurred CsT
Blurred CsT is a work of art that highlights the endless potential of sour ale and wine fusion. I’ve tried several wine grape sour beers this year, but Blurred CsT is perhaps the best of them. The sour base beer doesn’t overwhelm the red grapes, allowing you to appreciate their depth of flavor and transformative abilities. The end result is a relatively nuanced, approachable beer that shines in the details.
Russian River, pFriem, Firestone Walker, Cascade, and Jester King (just to name a few) all make excellent sour ales with wine grapes. Though, there isn’t one in particular that matches up well with Blurred CsT. This is one-of-a-kind.
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