Lickable Staves is an American Sour Red Ale that we aged in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels with generous amounts of Michigan Balaton cherries. When we first used Balaton cherries in our Beatitude Tart Saison we knew we had to brew a barrel aged beer to showcase this amazing fruit. We developed a recipe specifically to highlight both the intense tart cherry pie notes and nuanced baking spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, allspice) flavors that only Balaton cherries possess.
The malt bill builds off of our 2nd Anniversary Flanders Red by creating a rich and complex mix of Munich, Vienna, Special B, Caramalt, Aromatic and Flaked barley. This strong malt backbone is important as it provides flavors that match the Balaton cherries and give the fruit flavor more depth. It also helps make the beverage taste like beer instead of adult fruit juice.
The barrels were sourced from Napa, California and previously held Cabernet Sauvignon wine. Cabernet Sauvignon is known for it's bold flavor, full body and jam like notes. This varietal was selected to build on the Balaton cherries. Due to the simple sugars in the cherries it's possible for the beer to taste thin as it dries out. One way to combat this is to increase the body using tannins both from the residual wine as well as from the oak barrels. All those oak tannins were extracted by allowing the beer to age for close to a year. The jam notes from the Cabernet also help with the impression of our targeted profile of freshly baked cherry pie.
The beer was fermented with a blend of microbes that we have selected especially for malt-forward sour beers. The blend consisted of a major portion of California Ale yeast to ferment the bulk of the sugars and leave a relativity clean profile that would let the Balaton cherry flavor shine. The rest of the blend had strains of Brettanomyces and Lactobacillus that we have used in beer's with similar flavors. This particular blend has some strong acid producers (Lactobacillus and Pediocacus) that lowered the pH into the low 3's. The Brettanomyces strains we used are more on the mild side: so that the sometimes strong funky/farmyard aromas wouldn't interfere with the crisp, slightly spicy flavor of the Balaton cherry.
All these elements came together to make a beer with lush notes of tart cherry pie. There is a firm acidity that matches the natural acidity of a cherry. As the beer warms, the soft vanilla notes become present from the red wine barrels. Subtle baking spice flavor also shows up to complete the profile of freshly baked cherry pie with vanilla ice cream. Take your time and enjoy the flavors from each layer of this complex beer.
Lickable Staves will be released online on March 8th through our new online store. We plan to conduct all future bottle releases on this storefront, allowing us to eliminate ticketing fees and offer flat rate shipping in California. The Lickable Staves bottle release party is on Saturday, March 11th in the Tasting Room.