From the Beer Writer: Few are the fruits that haven’t made it into the sour fruit of Council Brewing Company‘s labor care of its ever-changing line-up of tart saisons. One that was particularly successful gained its assertive flavor character from boysenberries. It was such a fruitful addition to the beer-board that head brewer Liz Chism decided to not just bring it back, but employ oak-barrel maturation when doing so. Enter Council Béatitude Boysenberry, an imperialized (i.e., higher-alcohol) version of the beer that spent several months in bourbon whiskey barrels. Though the beer is over double the strength of its progenitor and is big on acidity, it drinks smooth and easy. Its bouquet reminds me of wine grapes at first sniff, with an interesting PB&J quality arising upon further analysis. On the tongue, the beer conveys fruit-forward flavors that remind me of home-made boysenberry pie filling minus the sugar. There is a touch of sweetness and very slight traces of vanillins from the oak, and they round out the dessert-like qualities, but the wood-character blends in instead of taking over, leaving an earthiness behind that tastes delightfully like the seeds of fresh boysenberries. It’s a winner that’s currently available in limited supply exclusively at Council’s Kearny Mesa tasting room.
From the Brewer: “This beer was inspired through our Employee R&D program when our beertender, Candice Dowell, aged her favorite fruit, boysenberries, along with toasted American oak in the base-beer for Béatitude. We only made five gallons of this R&D keg and it didn’t last long. The flavor combination complemented the tart base-beer perfectly. As soon as I tasted it, I knew I wanted to build off Candi’s idea, and Imperial Béatitude Boysenberry was born. The original beer was only about 4% alcohol-by-volume. We decided this beer needed to be aged in Heaven Hill bourbon whiskey barrels, and 4% is rather low for barrel-aging, so we amped the malt bill up on this beer to 9.7% to stand up to the extended barrel-aging, and pitched our house Brettanomyces and lactobacillus ‘magic slurry’ culture. This, along with the intensely tart boysenberries, resulted in a beer that has much more perceived acidity than the typical beers in our Béatitude series. The deep red color from the fruit and the intense sourness makes this beer come across as much more of a sour red or Flanders-style red ale than a saison.”—Liz Chism, Head Brewer/Owner, Council Brewing Company