In Birmingham, Ala., a city of just over 200,000 people, sits TrimTab Brewing Co. Started in 2012 by Harris and Cheri Stewart, their story began like many other breweries, with a passion for homebrewing. 

Before moving to Birmingham, the Stewarts lived in Ashville, N.C. If you know anything about craft beer at all, you know that Asheville is one of the meccas for craft beer in the country. However, they moved to Tuscaloosa for law school and found themselves in a completely different beer environment.  

“I hated life. There was nothing to do in the city, and I didn’t know my place in life or have something to create and be inspired by,” said Harris Stewart. Eventually, the couple moved again and began working on their brewery concept.

In 2012, the business became official, and in 2014, the brewery officially opened its doors and offering its lineup of “expressive IPAs, experimental stouts, and fruited sours” to the public.  

Since that first day, TrimTab continued to grow. In 2019, the brewery entered into a partnership with Abita Brewing Co. to increase the production of some of its popular core beers. With help from Abita, TrimTab produced nearly 7,500 barrels of beer in 2019.

More recently, this past August, it announced another expansion, but this time, it was to its own Birmingham facility. The brewery is looking to add additional brewing and storage space and additional outdoor seating for its guests.

On September 23, 2017, TrimTab released a “brew duo” of two sour ales in bomber-size bottles: Affirmation Blanc, a dry-hopped golden kettle sour and Affirmation Noir.  

Affirmation Noir is a dark sour ale with a 6.5 percent ABV and an IBU rating of 25. According to the brewery, it was brewed to be “like a sexy box of dark chocolate covered sour cherries from someone you love.”

Poured from a 22-ounce bottle, the color is jet black with a very light and quickly dissipating head. Carbonation is moderate, and lacing is low, likely due to the three years of age. The aroma is a mix of dark fruit, cherry, roasted malt, and smoky chocolate.  

The flavor profile is almost the same as the aroma. However, the fruits stand out much more in the taste. It has a pleasant sourness to it, which comes out stronger on the back of the taste and truly jumps out on the finish. The intense fruit flavors take precedence over any tartness, burying it somewhat. But I imagine that it was significantly more sour on release day.

The body is medium-light with a bubbly mouthfeel from the remaining carbonation. It has a smooth, silky mouthfeel that pairs well with the roasted malt and chocolate notes to support the fruit.  

The beer finishes a bit watery, again likely due to its age. Straight out of the fridge, there is a lingering sourness on the finish. However, as it warms, that sourness drops off.

TrimTab Brewing Affirmation Noir
BREWERY: TrimTab Brewing Co.
LOCATION: Birmingham, Ala.
STYLE: Dark Sour Ale
ABV: 6.5 percent
IBU: 25
PRICE: $11.99
RELEASE DATE: Sept. 23, 2017
AVAILABLE IN: 22-ounce bottles
BEERS POURED: One
For a beer that is three-years-old, I was impressed with how well most of its original concept held up. The fruit and chocolate notes were still strong, and there was still plenty of sourness to be had. Even the carbonation was manageable. Without tasting Affirmation Noir on release day, it is not easy to rate this particular bottle against the style. Additionally, like most beers, once you hit the three-year mark, aged beers start to degrade more quickly. Despite those aspects, I enjoyed this bottle a lot and would purchase it again if re-released. But I would not age it for more than two years.
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