This week, we're looking at one of the most potent beers that Delray Beach's Saltwater Brewery has put out since opening their doors this year.
This one is unique because of the ingredients used. I'm talking about the Black Current, a 10% abv American Strong Ale made with blackcurrants and sea grape wood.
The strong ale is a pretty wide category of beers. The Beer Judge Certification Program, one of the standards in categorizing beer styles, only recognizes three distinct strong ale categories, of which there is no 'American strong ale' -- only Old Ale, English Barleywine, and American Barleywine.
So instead, the American Strong Ale enjoys hanging out with all the other oddities in the 'Specialty Beer' group. ASA's share at least a few things in common: they are over 7% abv, they are big and malty, and they're brewed with that American experimental zeal.
In other words, these are big, bold beers.
The Black Current joins these brethren with this unique fruit and wood combination.
The process for this current version of the beer involved the brewers hand whittling, quartering, and sun drying a bunch of sea grape wood, using it similar to a standard oak infusion.
Pair this wood with the infusion of blackcurrants, and you get this pinkish beer.
Let's get that out of the way: it's an opaque pinkish, purplish, fruit smoothie color. It looks similar to some Berlinerweisses we've had, but this isn't close to being sour at all. The aroma is of sweet puree'd berries, fruit leather, and sugar syrup. It has a thick mouthfeel with minimal carbonation. The flavor is chock full of berry fruit flavors, with some mild spicy bitterness and a lingering tongue drying at the end (an effect from the wood use). This balance makes it neither cloyingly sweet, nor astringent, nor heavy in alcohol heat.
If you can get past the non-standard pinkish hue, you'll find an enjoyable malt heavy ale with a balanced fruit treatment.
Until next time, as the guys at Saltwater Brewery say: "Enjoy the depths of beer."
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Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers, and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.