San Francisco-based Almanac Beer Company cranks out well crafted brews of nearly every variety, but the brewery’s Farm to Barrel sour program is particularly acclaimed. So when I saw an Almanac sour featuring one of my favorite fruits, I knew I had to pick up a few bottles of Dogpatch Currant. Blackcurrants are berries that are similar to the gooseberry, and their strong sweet and tart combination of flavors features heavily in a beer with delicate floral notes and plenty of grape, raspberry, and passionfruit as well.
Creme de cassis is a liqueur made from blackcurrants, and when added to Champagne it brings deep tannin and dark berry flavor to create the delicious Kir Royale cocktail. It also tints the Champagne a plum-like purple, which is exactly what I expected from a glass of Dogpatch Currant. That not-so-beer-like hue is nowhere to be found, however—instead the beer retains the appearance of its dark, rust-colored Flemish red ale base with only a hint of purple from the currants.
Lean over the glass and beautiful fruity tartness greets the nose. The currant really comes through with a dose of bright, fresh berry aroma. Dogpatch Currant features very little of the funkiness and wood I’d expect from an oak-aged sour. While this certainly isn’t a real beer-y aroma with no yeastiness or hints of funk, the currant shines through for a very pleasing scent.
Almanac does an amazing job accurately showcasing the flavor bomb those little berries can bring.”
Dogpatch Currant opens very tart, but it isn’t a huge mouth-puckering sour; it leans more to the bright, fruity side. The powerful flavors of blackcurrant take over with a complex combination of wine, plum, and tart dark berries. As in the aroma, the expected sour-dulling oakiness doesn’t really come through, and I find myself wishing more of it was there. After the currant fades, the tartness returns and lingers briefly before a quick disappearing act, allowing me to go right back in for another sip.
Dogpatch Currant is imminently drinkable considering the amount of tartness and currant flavor. The beer has very little funk at all, as the sour flavor presents as nothing but tartness. I love currants, and Almanac does an amazing job accurately showcasing the flavor bomb those little berries can bring. While a touch more barrel-aged presence would be welcome, it also may ruin the delicate balance between tartness, fruit, and drinkability that Dogpatch Currant has achieved—which is reason enough to leave this one exactly as-is.