Yesterday was apparently Sour Beer Day, so I decided to get all reviewy with a sour that’s been sitting in my fridge for a few weeks. Rivertown‘s Ojos Negros is an American Wilde Ale aged with Blackberries in oak wine barrels. This beer is brewed a stone’s throw away from me in Cincinnati.
From their website:
AVAILABLE IN 750ML BOTTLE ONLY, RELEASED ONCE YEARLY IN JULY. A WILD FERMENTED BREW AGED IN OAK WINE BARRELS WITH OVER 140 POUNDS OF WHOLE BLACKBERRIES FOR ONE YEAR. 6.3% ABV, 8 SRM, 6 IBU
The beer pours a surprisingly clear reddish-brown color with absolutely zero head. There isn’t a lot of visible “bubbliness”, which is somewhat surprising. It actually looks very much like a slightly carbonated wine. It definitely gained a lot of color from the blackberries, let’s find out if it gained any aroma/flavor from them.
The beer has some nice acidic funkiness on the nose that reminds me of lemon juice. There’s a bit of pepper and other spices, and a bit of earthy oak, white wine, and leather. There are some nice brettanomyces (a wild yeast strain) character, such as hay or straw, which adds to the complexity. The blackberries are present, but not over-the-top. They are a subtle, but pleasant, addition to the aroma. This beer smells like a nice blend of fruity beer and earthy wine – yum.
This beer is respectably sour without being puckering. There is a nice bit of tartness and “funkiness” that lingers throughout the sip, sort of like Greek yogurt. This doesn’t have the “wet horse blanket” taste that a lot of other wilds have, but it definitely has some pleasant Brett-like notes – dry hay, lemon zest, spice notes (black pepper especially), earthy oak, etc. The fruit lends a bit of sweetness to the beer, and gives the mouth a bit of ripe berry flavor which works nicely. The blackberry really shows it’s full contribution after the initial swallow when it blossoms into a truly authentic blackberry flavor – right down to the seeds. This beer has a good amount of complexity while remaining drinkable.
For a wild ale, this beer has a bit more body and a lot less carbonation than expected. I always expect lambics and wilds to be very effervescent and sparkly, but this beer is not. It is, however, pleasantly dry (albeit not as much as other wilds) and very drinkable. The lingering mouthfeel is similar to that of a robust wine.
This beer is everything that Rivertown’s Lambic is and more. The blackberries really bring this beer into something special. It is a very approachable sour for people who are unfamiliar with sour beers. It isn’t as sour as other similar beers, but it has so much complexity and authentic fruit flavor that it really satisfies the palate. This is probably the best beer from Rivertown that I’ve had to date, and I’m proud that a brewery that is so close to me can produce a beer like this. Get your hands on this beer!