Some say Bing and others claim Rainier, but 10 Barrel added a third option to cherry season: Beer No. 1. As the first of a new series, Beer No. 1 is a sour brown ale aged with cherries, and it's a winner. No style-based theme has been announced, but if Beer No. 2 and beyond are up to the level of Beer No. 1, it will be a popular series. Beer No. 1 is limited to the bottles left in the stores and, at the time of this writing, is still available around town.
Oud Bruin is a style that is underappreciated, or at least not well known. It's a sour brown ale originating from the Flemish region of Belgium. 10 Barrel is smart to take inspiration from the unique and delicious classic. It is a natural move to make in the current sour beer market, but it's a direction only a few brewers are currently taking. Beer No. 1 is not a traditional take on the style, but the influence is clear.
For those that like to smell their beers more than taste them, Beer No. 1 won't disappoint. At first pour, the aroma is dark, ripe cherries and a hint of malt. The flavor is similar with a mild malt backbone and sour cherry. This isn't a beer with major pucker-power, just pleasantly tart; no more sour than most lemonades. The medium body has a smooth mouth-feel, but not quite creamy. The mild carbonation keeps the beer from feeling heavy. Beer No. 1 is big for its 6% ABV and the IBUs aren't listed—or needed.
As a sour brown ale, Beer No. 1 is less versatile in pairing than many beers. When paired well, though, it is amazing. Green salads work well, and around the grill try this beer next to pork with grilled peaches. The medium body pairs well with the leaner pork cuts like chops, loin, or tenderloin. The cherry in the beer complements the mild tartness of of the peaches, and the maltiness tempers the char from the grill.
As good as this pairs with pork, there is another pairing that will inspire George Takei impressions all night long: Beer No. 1 served with dark chocolate...ooohhh mmmmyyyy!!! It's a perfect example of the potential of beer pairing. Cherries and chocolate are classic for a reason and throwing in the malty carbonation of this beer just adds to the experience.
So far, 10 Barrel has been tightlipped about Beer No. 2, except to say it will be out this week or next.