My love for wild, brett, funky and sour beers runs deep, and the hunt for them is not the arduous task it once was. Only a few short years ago a trip to even the finest of bottle shops may have had resulted in a few American offerings—generally it was Jolly Pumpkin, Russian River or Lost Abbey—and of course a few Belgian standards and that was it. Fast forward to present day and my local bottle shop has dozens of different breweries with entire aisles of rotating sour beers.
I am a fan of this movement and fully endorse it.
One of the breweries that has been a regular in my fridge over the past couple of years is Paradox Beer Co. of Divide Colo. Since opening their doors in 2012 the team at Paradox has been churning out a seemingly never-ending line of different sour beers. Its popular Skully line of beers focuses solely on mixed fermentation barrel-aged beers. To date, it has released over 60 different beers in this line alone. Most of which have interesting ingredients ranging from any fruit you can think of, spices, coffee, an assortment of different hops and even chocolate.
In late 2017 Paradox released a beer that until today I have not had the pleasure of trying. Pina Cielo is a mixed fermentation barrel-aged beer brewed with pineapple, dark brown sugar and ceylon cinnamon. The beer is a nod to Tepache which is a historic Mexican beverage made from fermented pineapple rinds. Before today I had no idea what Tepache was but after doing a bit of research it is now pretty high on my list of weekends brew projects. Pineapple is not a fruit I see often in beer so this should be interesting.
The beer opens with a faint pop and pours a hazy golden straw color with two fingers of bright white head. Based on appearance alone this could pass for a hazy IPA. A quick whiff of the glass and it is quite apparent that hops are not the star of this show. A huge sweet pineapple aroma jumps out of the glass followed by a very noticeable Brettanomyces funk. As I continue to bury my nose in the glass hunting for other aromas I keep getting more and more pineapple. Many fruit beers tend to have a generic “fruit” character and only already knowing what fruit is in the beer leads your brain to smell “Apricots, berries or whatever the brewer put in the beer. Not this beer, it is a very distinct and prevalent pineapple smell that I could pick out blindfolded. After hunting for it I get hints of cinnamon and a light cracker like malt character as well.
Pineapple is not very high on my personal list of favorite fruits so I was a little apprehensive about trying my first sip. That fear was quickly extinguished upon tasting the beer. As one would expect from the paragraph above the beer had a big fruity pineapple blast that is paired with a perfect level of acidity. Just enough sour to balance out the sweet fruit without the puckering overpowering acid levels that often are seen in many American wild ales. The mouthfeel right where it needs to be for the style with a spot on level of carbonation that helps scrub the palate after each sip. The beer finished crisp and the sourness and pineapple slowly fade after each sip.