Still rolling through some craft beer week offerings with a specialty keg put together by my favorite NOLA Brewing: a sour version of their Irish Channel Stout, aged in a Four Roses Bourbon Barrel.
Yes, there's a lot going on there.
Basically, it's the standard Irish Channel, which is a fantastic beer on its own, with the addition of lactobacillus in the "wort" portion of the brewing process. The wort is, basically, the cooked mash of grain and other ingredients that contains all the sugars that will be fermented by yeast to make alcohol. Lacto, as its known, is a strain of bacteria that can be added to said wort before the yeast and the fermenting. It will begin to munch on those sugars and produce lactic acid -- its common in things like yogurt -- which of course lowers the PH of the mixture and produces more of a sour taste.
So you have a weird combination of a barrel-aged stout, which has a 9 percent alcohol by volume content, which can be really sweet, with the lacto sour effect.
The added booze content makes this look a little thinner than the typical Irish Channel, and you get the sour bouquet right away, and it's really the dominant flavor. You taste roasted malts only for like a second, before a weird, vaguely briny flavor. It's not the traditional fruity sour flavor you'd expect from like, citrus. There's almost a funky element to it, like pickles a bit. Not quite that extreme though -- I don't like pickles at all, but I'd drink this again. And you get the sweetness of the bourbon barrel to kind of cut it at the end, so you never get any too much of one flavor. If you're down for trying something a little out there, give this one a try. Four out of five stars.