Style: Belgian-American Barrel Aged Sour Specialty Ale w/mango and habanero peppers
Glassware: 5 oz. Taster Glass
Appearance: The first thing I noticed was its surprisingly pale color. Certainly hazy, and almost glowing, when held in the right light. Like many barrel aged beers, the head was nothing to write home about.
Aroma: Slight funkiness reaches the nose first, as well as a delightfully mellow mango character. No perceived heat/pepper character.
Flavor: Immediately striking. The mango is superbly balanced with the light, golden sour character that the base-beer contains. Its sourness is more notable than the mango, with the perfectly subtle heat from the habanero peppers. It almost feels like the beer might lend mango and tropical fruit notes without actually putting the fruit into the beer, making for a fantastic marriage of ingredients. Perhaps due to the overall complexity, I didn’t detect an overwhelming barrel/oak character.
Mouthfeel: The slight heat from the peppers certainly plays into the mouthfeel, perhaps adding a perceived dryness. Although there are many sweet flavors present, the beer is still moderately dry. Somewhat high carbonation levels probably increase perceived dryness as well.
Aftertaste: The heat from the peppers is the most forward flavor in the finish. It lingers a bit, but definitely not too long. The mango almost seems like a delayed reaction on your tongue as well.
Overall: Habanago will likely be one of the most memorable beers I’ll taste this year. I had the absolute pleasure of enjoying this tasty beverage at Brewery Vivant’s Wood Aged Beer Fest and needless to say, I felt as though this beer deserved a bit of an “honorable mention,” if you will. While there were plenty of fantastic sour, funky, and boozy options at the fest, this beer stood out with its remarkable balance and complexity.
Sour beers are certainly on the rise in Michigan, which is something I couldn’t be more excited about. Brewery Vivant has done quite a bit to help pick up the steam that Jolly Pumpkin has been building since its opening a decade ago. Here’s to hoping we see Habanango on tap again in the Vivant tasting room.