With the warm weather comes a change in palette and as a result, a change in beer styles. Sours is an umbrella term to cover a wide variety of different styles of beers that seem to be becoming more popular year by year. I had the opportunity to attend one of Albuquerque’s most exciting beer events: the 3rd annual Tart at Heart which took place at Sister Bar in downtown Albuquerque (407 Central Ave NW, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87102). It featured of 25 different styles of sour and barrel-aged beers.
Upon entry I was given a “Tart at Heart” glass that would accompany me and my “unlimited tastings”. The first thing you are greeted with as a guest of Tart at Heart is a giant bowl of Tums, for pretty obvious reasons. It was both funny and relieving.
I made the rotation around the dance floor where various breweries offered their finest sour and barrel-aged ales.
Top 3 local offerings:
Canteen’s “Social Capital” w/ Orange Peel, Cardamom, and Vanilla Bean
Bright, crisp, and refreshing. It captures Albuquerque’s sun-soaked spring in a bottle. The light satisfaction of a lighter beer with the mouth-watering quality of a sour candy without being too overbearing.
Marble’s “¡Cereza Cerveza!” Aged Cherry Sour
Always delivering quality beer, this beer will not disappoint. Aged in Chardonnay barrels, this beer has a bright and bubbly quality about it. The cherries cause pleasant puckering. I had at least 3 refills of this bad boy.
Dialogue’s “Filth Peddler” Sour Lager
Dialogue has been continuing to impress me with their increasing arsenal of sour/tart beers. This beer is a little more subtle on the tart side to it’s advantage. It finishes nice and smoothly with almost a toasty taste that you might find in their Berliner Weisse or a nice German pilsner. Shining and unpretentious, this beer is not to be missed.
Top 3 National Offerings:
New Belgium’s “La Folie”
A sour brown ale with unmatched complexity. Reportedly from a yeast strain that’s been around since the mid-90’s. This ale packs a nice punch at 7% without taking away at all from the overall flavor profile. Lip-puckeringly tart, sharp, and reminiscent of stone fruit.
North Coast’s “Tart Cherry Berliner Weisse”
Made with Michigan Montmorency cherries, this beer is bright and refreshing and keeps you wanting more. A beautiful color, almost resembling Rosé, this beer is perfect for a warm Spring day.
This heavy-hitting Russian Imperial Stout (13.1%) is described by Firestone as a “barrel-aged beast” and they could not have described it better. It’s as dark as night and twice as enticing. It is dark, tempting, and sweet with flavor notes of vanilla, dark chocolate, and bourbon undertones. This is a siren of a beer, as it’s smooth and delicious allure can catch up to you quick if you are not careful.
Do not miss this event next year. It is one of the finest organized specialty beer events we are offered in Albuquerque.
Written by Barney Gumbel