I drink weird: Allagash Nancy

My favorite fruit is cherry. Dark ripe ones. Don’t give me flowers, don’t send me jewels; I want cherries by the bowl full. There are very, very few things I favor so much more than those other things I like that I can rank them with certainty, but my favorite fruit? Done. So when I was receiving at a local spirits shop & this came in, I grabbed a third of the meagre half dozen bottles the store had been allotted. J & I popped the first within the week, and it was disappointingly sweet and sour, awkward and overwhelmingly fruity. Good thing we got that 2nd one! For us, some additional maturity was key.

Fragrance? Not much. Almost hoppy when you first breathe it in, it becomes a faint cherry blossom with a fainter hint of citrus and a good bit of Brett. The head is as nearly immaculate as anything that isn’t purely imaginary can be: white and clean, and, like all things pure yet desirable: elusive. It dissipates quickly and leaves hardly any trace. I did not read Allagash’s official send-off until afterwards, but if you’re into that sort of thing, enjoy. For us, Nancy was thoroughly enjoyable but not something to be missed or craved unless you haven’t had as many Anderson Valley Blood Orange Goses as I. Those are, admittedly, the Alka-Seltzer SweeTarts of these styles of beer, but they are still of a kind. A sour Nancy of a certain age is neatly refined, especially in comparison to that gose’s Lolita; a Mrs. Robinson, maybe, where neither are The Duchesse, (who, no matter how many times I have her still keeps me coming back all year long.) But…

But what? When my favorite fruit is cherry, and my favorite beers are sours, a cherry flavored sour red should have sent me over the top? Yeah, easier said than done, I guess. My hop-head of a husband loved this, though he enjoys the kombucha-like bite of Brouwerij Verhaeghe’s finest as much as I. So we compared notes.

Proviso: savor that first sip. The profile changes slightly with each, with the tart fruit largely moving into the background & aftertaste.

Nancy is sour, sharp and salty, with some funk–like rubber bands and new balloons, not clove. But quite good. She finishes clean, with an aftertaste of barely ripened cerises. Initially tart, like somewhat underripe Rainer; lots of soft salinity, the taste of fresh sweat on clean skin. But then there is acidity and it’s pervasively citric –crisp rather than vinegary– but of lemons and old tangerines, not juicy or piquant. (If you’ve ever had one that was entirely past its prime? That.) For me, those citrus notes are a kiss from a particularly unwelcome Aunt rather than the fun romp of the same in a Long Strange Tripel or a Saison; if not bitter, at least more reminiscent of the taste of dried zests than the scent of freshly shaved rinds. Because this is what replaces the more refreshing tart cherry, it’s not unlike catching Nancy in a bit of a lie. At first lightly fragrant and refeshingly tart, become dry and faintly bitter, brightened by an increasingly citric sour, rounded out by Brett and laced with salt. Nothing seems off, but you still come away feeling somehow cheated or a little misled, like you’ve been tricked into an unpleasant discovery about yourself rather than her. In any case, light in the loafers she is not. Nancy becomes a much more funky-sour than the neat save-the-date design on the label would indicate, and we’re thankful for that, especially after the first bottle.

There is a bit of nutmeg mixed in with the funk, as well as the bitterness of cinnamon but none of its sweet heat. It much more heavily favors latex/rubber rather than spice, though, so if you’re sensitive to those and find them off-putting, you’ve been warned. Funk in beer seems to encompass everything from Brett, barnyard, band-aids, smoke, musk and leather, to bacon, cheese and allspice. Mmmm or hmmm?

So Nancy’s got more going on than she lets on. Enjoyable? Yes. Memorable? Yes. Desirable? It’s going to depend on your experience and taste. Ratings are over-rated, don’t judge and don’t explain: De gustibus non est disputandum! But you know what they say about words and pictures, right? So that’s her at dusk, below. We paired our 2nd glasses with sliced avocado, bell pepper heavy vegetarian fajitas, cilantro, and corn tortillas. Cheers!


Bottled July 18th 2014; bought Dec. 2014; kept below 70 & in the dark until May 18th, then refrigerated < than 24 hours & opened the next day.


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