Cuvee De Castleton from Captain Lawrence Brewing
Scott Vaccaro (of Captain Lawrence Brewing) is one of the American masters of the sour brew. His beers are nonlinear but straightforward in a way only a great talent can deliver. He has often pointed to the Cantillon Brewery of Belgium as his muse and his goal. This bottling is his ode to Cantillon’s Vigneronne, which is itself an example of a druivenlambik, or a grape lambic.
The beer is co-fermented with muscat grapes and aged in old oak barrels. As is traditional, the fermentation is done with wild yeasts, including brettanomyces and lactic bacteria. After aging, the beer is bottle conditioned, allowing a secondary fermentation to increase carbonation. This is a difficult and expensive manner to brew beer, one which few execute well. This is one of the finest examples of the style, on par with Cantillon’s Vigneronne. Kudos, Mr. Vaccaro.
The aromatics offer nutmeg, horse hair, toast, nut, lycee, and butter. On the palate, the crisp acidity of the grapes ramps up with the aggressive carbonation offering great presence. Flavors of lemon zest and sour apple are rounded out with a pleasant note of melon. A delightful earthy funkiness ties it all together and keeps it interesting. On the finish, a bit of garrigue and savory notes along with a nice malty lift.