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Judge's Review: 92 Rating - Ralph by The Ale Apothecary

October, 2019
Judges Rating: 
22 / 24
5 / 6
38 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
18 / 20

Ralph by The Ale Apothecary is judged as a mixed-fermentation sour ale brewed with fir needles, honey, and aged in wine barrels.

Pouring the beer, it’s orange in color with a little bit of haze. It pours a very small loose head that dissipates fairly quickly. The aroma is great. A low bit of fruit, mostly I notice tart cherries, a woody pine aroma similar to what you think of when you put up a Christmas tree. The malt aroma is low with a soft bready character. I do pick up some oak, but it’s reserved. I don’t really detect much wine character from the barrel in the nose, though. In the flavor I pick up big tart fruits, mostly cherry to me. The oak is a lot more noticeable in the mouth than it was in the nose and it’s enjoyable. The beer is very refreshing for an oak-aged beer. The beer is low in bitterness but does have a noticeable pine-like quality that mildly reminds me of a hint of menthol, obviously from the fir tips. I do not detect any Brett character from the barrel aging, and that’s OK; it’s not required or necessarily expected. It’s just when some people are thinking barrel-aged sour beers, they may be looking for that funk, and you will not find it in here. It’s a clean, tart, slightly malty and fruity ale. The malt is refined with a little toast and a light sweetness. The beer is medium bodied and moderately carbonated. There is a mild oaky astringency, but it’s not off-putting. All in all this is a very good barrel-aged beer. The fir needles are detectable and add a great depth to this beer.