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Belt’s Beer Garden: On a Sour Note...

Two sour brews - Firestone Walker’s Paw2 Prints & LULU Passion Fruit Sour

This week I leave you on a sour note with a couple of wild/sour brews that certainly bring the tartness.

Up first, a Firestone Walker collaboration with my favorite liquor store.

Anyone from central and northern Illinois knows one of the best places for beer is Binny’s Beverage Depot, a retailer with over 40 locations throughout Illinois, with most being in the Chicagoland area.

Last year to celebrate their 70th anniversary, they teamed up with Firestone Walker to create a special brew - Paw2 Prints.

Paw2 Prints is a wild ale brewed with paw paw fruits before being aged 6-36 months in French oak barrels. A 375 mL (12.7 ounces) bottle usually costs $13 but I was able to snag one on sale for $6. It has a solid ABV of just under 7% and a corked top to make it seem extra fancy.

Paw paw fruits, for those that haven’t had them (like myself), are also called Hoosier bananas, hillbilly mangos, and banangos for their unique custardy flavor of mango, banana, and pineapple.

After being bottled on May 23, 2018, this beer has had an addition year and half to mature and mix its flavors up (note: drinking this on 10/1/19)

The beer poured a bright golden straw color with barely any head. No more than a thin line of white foam ever appeared and, within seconds, the liquid had zero bubbles remaining on top.

From the smell it certainly seems like this brew will pack quite the sour punch. A huge tartness leads the way, even stinging my nostrils some, with notes of banana, clove, and other citrus fruits and spices underneath. The aroma was quite the combination, as it blended together those of a sour and farmhouse.

My first sip started off with a quick uppercut of super sour flavors. I puckered some as the lemon and lime hit first. From there though, the tartness begins to fade as other flavors start to wash over the acidic ones.

Mango appears next with just a hint of banana and clove. They smooth out that sour bite and give a light saison-like quality to the brew for just a split second. Because, right behind that, an oaky flavor from the French foudre it was aged in come washing over it all.

The banana and clove really don’t hit much in the flavor, which I liked, just a touch here and there. And, because of that, the brew has kind of like a “barrel-aged mango margarita” vibe to it – sour, citrusy, boozy, with some late oak notes, but still goes down easy.

As I continued through the 12.7-ounce bottle, the sour level seemed to decrease with each addition sip. It could be I just got used to it or it could’ve mellowed out as it warmed up but, either way, the second half was a lot easier to drink than the first.

The biggest downfall from the brew was how it sat in my stomach. Between the high acidity and yeasts used, it didn’t sit very still and seemed to fizzle on well after it had been swallowed.

Paw2 Prints was a pretty decent wild ale. I like the flavors from the paw paw fruit and the sour punch hit hard up front but faded after that initial shock. The two biggest detractors for me were the price (at least, the original price) and how it left my stomach unsettled for a bit after I had finished the bottle.

*Bottled on 5/23/18. Reviewed on 10/1/19*

Next up, another fruited sour, this time from LULU.

LULU is a contract brewery that looks to be a subsidiary of Browary Regionalne Wąsosz, which is located in Wąsosz, Poland and has been around since 1994.

This is the first beer from Poland to be on Belt’s Beer Garden, meaning that we’ve now showcased beers from 44 states and twelve different countries over the past five years.

I can’t tell you a whole lot about them, since everything I encountered was in Polish. And, despite tedious amounts of coping-and-pasting into Google Translate, all I learned about Browary Wąsosz was that the brewery faced multiple struggles over the years, which caused them to either cease production or brew in a limited capacity for a good chunk of time. However, since 2014 the brewery has been able to produce beers at full capacity, so that’s good.

There have been ten beers released under the LULU name, all of which have been sours or pale ales and all of which have been flavored with some type of fruit.

Today I have one of their flavored sours – Passion Fruit Sour. The 16.9-ounce bottle cost a mere $3 and has a 4.4% ABV.

The beer poured a light golden straw color with about a finger of thin foam building up. The head fizzles away quickly, leaving only a few bubbles atop the brew after a few short moments.

On the nose this sour ale didn’t have an overly tart aroma to it. You could tell there would be some sour notes but, for the most part, the beer featured a nice blend of malts and passion fruit sweetness.

My first taste had a very pleasant tartness to it that was balanced really well by the passion fruit juice. It honestly wasn’t really that sour at all and, instead, just gave a little prickle of tartness early on before the super sweet passion fruit flavors took over.

The malts add some additional sweet notes of caramel and biscuits but the passion fruit flavor really controls the flavor the entire time.

Towards the end, there is another little spike of tart lemon that almost got me to pucker some. But it doesn’t last long and is mostly manageable.

LULU Passion Fruit Sour ends super quickly. The flavors on each sip maybe lasting a little over two seconds before fading down.

As it fades, the fruit juice does leave a stickiness that coats my tongue and mouth. It also ends with just a small dash of dryness and a bit of malt flavoring lingering on for a few moments after.

This was a super easy to drink “sour” that really wasn’t all that sour. It was light, sweet, packed with passion fruit flavors, and then had that quick jolt of tartness that made it a great brew for those new to sours or just looking for something different.

It was worth the $3 and I’ll actually probably go back and try some of their other flavors. Not amazing but a really solid brew.

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