Burley Oak Brewing is based in the small town of Berlin—no, not that one—on the eastern shore of Maryland. It began in 2011 when homebrewing hobbyist Bryan Brushmiller decided to start mashing and hopping for profit. The company has done well for itself since opening and in April 2017 an approval was granted for an expansion of the existing main brewery. The approval did have its controversy, however, with concern from officials over no stormwater plan in place and a rather humorous exchange over concern for live music on Sundays during church services.

Today’s beer comes from Burley Oak’s Sour Ale series known as “The Fruits of Our Labor.” This particular can is of the watermelon variety and comes in at 4.4 percent ABV with 4 IBUs.

The pour begins with an exuberant and profuse amount of carbonation. I noticed that when I held the can in hand it felt and looked as though the carbonation level was very high; the top of the can was bulging out from the pressure. After the initial gushing out of the can I managed to pour a small amount, 2 or so ounces, in a snifter before the head ran over. The color is an opaque orange, although, if I apply enough cognitive bias and just the right amount of oblique lighting angle a pinkish hue is detectable. The aroma is on the sweeter end of the spectrum with a strong note of strawberries and bubblegum. I offered my wife a taste and without her having any idea of what the beer was beforehand, she commented, “Oh! I love strawberries!”

The taste begins with a good strong lactic hit filled with strawberries and pickled watermelon rind. It transitions on the end to a sweet and oddly cider-like finish. The incredibly high carbonation level seems to be adding a lot of front-end acidity to the beer leading to a dulling of the senses. In fact, the beer is getting more enjoyable as more carbon dioxide comes out of solution.

Burley Oak The Fruits of Our Labor - Watermelon
BREWERY: Burley Oak Brewing
LOCATION: Berlin, Md.
STYLE: Sour Ale
ABV: 4.4 percent
IBU: 4
PRICE: n/a
RELEASE DATE: September 2017
AVAILABLE IN: 16-ounce can
Overall, Burley Oak’s The Fruits of Our Labor Watermelon is a unique offering delivering a clean and simple sour ale missing on the watermelon and overshooting the carbonation level. This beer would be a good starter sour for the uninitiated drinker to the world of funky ales. Speaking of funky ales, I personally feel that this beer could really benefit from some Brettanomyces character.
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