Mobcraft Beer has been releasing sour ales since shortly after they opened in 2013, although prior to this bottle release of Sour Safari, their sour offerings were primarily available at beerfests, with Sour Safari making its debut at Great Taste of the Midwest last year. The bottle release of Sour Safari, which came out a month ago is a lactic fermented sour red ale in the vein of a Flanders Red Ale, but with a focus on the tart, vinegary notes that come from adding a healthy dose of lactobacillus to a beer either pre or post-fermentation.
A couple previous Mobcraft releases have taken on sour notes in the bottle after release, so my hopes were high that this sour release would have the strong sour notes characteristic of the Flanders Red style. Arabian Date Night for instance had some considerable lactic, yogurty notes after being in the bottle for a couple months, and that was by all accounts an un-intentional souring; one that turned out remarkably well. Sour Safari on the other hand is released as a sour, so it should have the aroma and flavor profile of a sour beer. With a retail price in the $4 range for a 12 oz bottle, this is notably inexpensive for an American Sour and could be an excellent bargain for the style if it’s a good beer with only DESTHIL’s Sour Series coming in at a similar price point. That said, on to the review.
Sour Red Ale Aged in Oak Barrels.
Sour Safari pours a hazy reddish tinted caramel with cuprite (bright red) highlights. The beer is capped with a moderately thick, rocky white head that holds low retention (~2 minutes) before fading to a thin layer of hazy bubbles and a thin collar around the edges of the glass. The aroma is fairly restrained with slight notes of vanilla, oak and balsamic vinegar on the front end. Light dark cherry notes blend with a hint of solvent-like phenols and a subtle vague funkiness that’s too indistinct to tie down. Cherry notes and the slight funkiness linger into the finish. More cherry and fuller vanilla notes develop as Sour Safari warms, providing an exceptionally pleasant aroma.
Mellow dark cherries blend with vanilla and a slight note of balsamic vinegar to lead the flavor. A slightly yogurt-like tartness rounds out the back end with tart cherry notes and a flavor similar to red sour patch kids providing a nice, but restrained, sour kick. Lingering notes of cherry and subtle oak notes linger long after the last sip. With a medium-light body and a low level of carbonation, Sour Safari seems to fall a bit flat but maybe I just got an under-carbonated bottle.
Being the first commercial sour release from Mobcraft I was hoping for the tart, lactic sour notes that have developed overtime in some of the other Mobcraft releases like Arabian Date Night. Unfortunately, while sour notes linger throughout Sour Safari and tart balsamic vinegar flavors are beginning to develop, this beer will require considerable aging before it can compete alongside other sour red ales like Rodenbach Grand Cru, The Lost Abbey Red Poppy, Central Waters Exodus, or DESTIHL’s Flanders Red.
I’m usually a big fan of Mobcraft beers, but this one seems a bit rushed and could have used more aging prior to the release in order to gain the tart sour notes characteristic of a Flanders Red. I’m going to give this beer the benefit of the doubt and say that it should get better with age; it’s just not there yet. If you are looking for a good sour ale that you can open for immediate consumption, you might want to look elsewhere. However if you have the patience to wait for this beer to develop then by all means pick up a few bottles and keep them in a cool, dark place for some extended aging. As for me, I am going to look for more bottles, if I can find them, hide them away, and hope that in another year or two this will become a great Sour Red.
That’s all for today, check back soon for another post!
Happy Drinking, and remember to always Drink Wisconsinbly!