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Pontoon Brewing's Nightmare Fuel Fruited Sour is Spookily Satisfying

Pontoon Brewing's head brewer Chris Baratz talks about this spooky blood-red sour, which is frightfully perfect for Halloween.

Pontoon Brewing's Nightmare Fuel Fruited Sour is Spookily Satisfying

Pontoon Brewing in Sandy Springs has been produced a bevy of high-scoring beers over the years in the pages of The Beer Connoisseur. In 2020, their limited-release barrel-aged imperial stout, Barrel Aged Brownie Batter Blend #1, was our highest-rated beer of the year with a World Class score of 98.

That same year, the brewery produced a fall seasonal called Nightmare Fuel that also scored highly in our Official Review and was named as the #71 beer of 2020.

We spoke with Pontoon’s head brewer, Chris Baratz, about this scintillating imperial sour beer.

Pontoon Brewing's Nightmare Fuel Fruited Sour is Spookily Satisfying

BC: Who came up with this beer’s recipe?
I came up with this one with assistance from the brewing team on the fruit choices. 

BC: What’s your favorite aspect of this beer (flavor, aroma, etc.)?
The strong jammy flavors and the color, which looks like blood!

BC: Where does this beer’s name come from?
We planned a beer for Halloween Horror Nights in Florida so we wanted to do something spooky that looked like blood.

BC: Is this your “desert island beer?”
This would definitely be a desert island beer! It's extremely drinkable and the ABV is just high enough to only need a couple to get a buzz.

BC: Can you describe this beer in 10 words or less?
A jammy sour with big notes of currant, cherries and berries. 

BC: Do you know a story – or have a personal story – that revolves around this beer?
We brewed this for Halloween Horror Nights in Florida and moved it up from October to September in order to get it to the park in time. Of course, COVID didn't die down and so when HHN was canceled, we had this very Halloween type beer with no real reason. People loved the label and it worked out but it had us worried for a bit! 

BC: What's a good food pairing for this beer?
This is a perfect beer for a charcuterie board filled with cured salty meats, strong cheeses like bleu cheese and fresh fruit. 

Nightmare Fue by Pontoon Brewing

Judge’s Review
by: Michael Heniff

Rated 92

Aroma: 22 / 24
Appearance: 6 / 6
Flavor: 36 / 40
Mouthfeel: 10 / 10
Overall Impression: 18 / 20

Nightmare Fuel by Pontoon Brewing is a fruited Berliner Weisse and is being evaluated as a Fruit Beer (category 29A in the 2015 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines). The fruit in fruit beers should complement the base style without overwhelming it. Berliner Weisse (category 23A in the 2015 BJCP Beer Style Guidelines) beers are sharply sour beers noted for their clean lactic acidity; oftentimes, a bready, wheaty character can be noted in the sour, refreshing, well-carbonated beer. Nightmare Fuel was fermented with raspberries, tart cherries and blackcurrants with added lactose.

Nightmare Fuel pours dark red (almost purple) with excellent clarity and a medium, pink-colored head. The aroma is of moderately strong dark berries (cherries and raspberries) and a hint of currant; a light lactic acid aroma is also noted. The flavor features moderate lactic acidity with moderate dark fruit notes of currants and raspberries. The beer finishes lightly bittered with a moderately high carbonation and lingering dark fruits of cherry, raspberry and currants.

This is a very well-made beer. The level of fruitiness was slightly high, but each of the fruits came through the flavor with an excellent balance between them. The level of acidity was slightly low for a true Berliner Weisse but is at a level that will be well received by both sour beer and fruit beer aficionados. Seek this one out!

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