People have been adding fruit to beer almost as long as beer has been produced and Scratch Brewing Co. in Illinois, decided to stick to the time-honored tradition when it produced Strawberry Rhubarb Sour, albeit with one major difference.

According to the brewery, Strawberry Rhubarb Sour is a 5.5 percent ABV sour ale was brewed over a direct fire in a copper kettle with Munich and Vienna malt sourced from Sugar Creek in Indiana. However, no hops were used and the beer was conditioned on strawberries from McLaughlin Farm in Murphysboro, Ill. as well as rhubarb from Henry’s Farm in Congerville, Ill.

The first release of was packaged in 500ml bottles ($17) and were sold at the brewery on July 27, 2017 with a 12 bottle per person purchase limit. In addition, customers could reserve the beer ahead of time for a slightly reduced price of $15 per bottle by paying a $1 reservation fee, the proceeds of which were donated to the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, an organization that “helps support economically viable, socially just and environmentally sustainable food systems in Illinois through legislative work and other conservation efforts.”

The Strawberry Rhubarb Sour pours a light brown that reminds me of apple cider, three fingers of puffy, off-white head that sticks around for quite a while before dissipating into a thick ring. Visually, there seems to be plenty of carbonation and aroma from the glass is a combination of freshly picked strawberries, oak, grass, rhubarb, apples and lemon juice.

Starting out, the Scratch Strawberry Rhubarb features an assortment of flavors on the palate, including slightly bitter rhubarb, red apples, lemon juice, oak and earth. However, the finish is inundated with a massive fresh strawberry jam note, so much so that I had to check to make sure there was not some actual fruit in the beer itself. The mouthfeel is extremely creamy, with close to perfect amount of carbonation, and while the profile of the base beer is a bit sour overall, it works very well with the sweetness that is inherent in the strawberries.

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Scratch Strawberry Rhubarb Sour
BREWERY: Scratch Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Ava, Ill.
STYLE: Sour Ale
ABV: 5.5 percent
IBU: n/a
PRICE: $17
RELEASE DATE: July 27, 2017
AVAILABLE IN: 500ml Bottles
BEERS POURED: One
Considering the name, there is a natural inclination to compare this to something like New Glarus’ Strawberry Rhubarb or Great Divide’s Strawberry Rhubarb. However, that would be a mistake, as they are virtually nothing alike other than the fruits that the beer is conditioned on. Where the New Glarus—and to a lesser extent, Great Divide’s version—are sweet and tart, the Scratch is creamy and sour with a dominant strawberry fruitiness on the finish. Strawberries are a difficult fruit to get correct in a beer, but you can tell almost instantly that fresh fruit was used in this release and it only makes the profile that much more enjoyable. In the end, the Scratch Strawberry Rhubarb Sour is an excellent, well-balanced sour that I wish I could drink on a regular basis and I am glad I stocked up when I had the chance.
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