It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon, the type of day where you have to make a Facebook post about how much you love New England in the fall blah blah blah. Anyways, I was given a surprise day off from work so I decided to head into Portsmouth and pick up a growler from a local brewery.
“Go home immediately after,” I kept telling myself. Life is hard when you’re dead broke, yet plagued with a proclivity for good beer and fine dining. I should have had a note pinned to my shirt, telling shopkeeps to refuse me service because I need to be saving my money for canned soup and electric bills.
You’re all beer people. You know how it is. Your kids eat pizza rolls 4 times a week so you can pound Cantillons like wine coolers. “At least I don’t have children or a mortgage,” I tell myself, driving over the bridge and into Kittery. “It’s so nice out. It’d be a shame to end the day now,” as the justifications continue and I shed a single tear, briefly considering my dwindling savings account.
Let’s fast-forward to my $12.99 375ml bottle of Allagash Merveilleux. This is the second beer in their limited release series – the first being the estimable FV13. This is a blend of five different beers, fermented in both bourbon and wine barrels, with Brettanomyces, pediococcus, and lactobacillus added.
Merveilleux, French for “marvelous”, pours a cider-like semi-hazy copper. The head quickly builds up, but just as quickly evaporates, leaving behind a thin and creamy sheet of froth on the glass.
The aroma hit me as I was pouring – bready brett for miles and sour cherries. With my first sip, I found myself licking my gums like a baby given a lemon; huge wine-like tartness, but that doesn’t stop the beer from being drinkable. It blends nicely with flavors of cherry, oak, and a pleasing woody quality. The sour cherries and distinct lemony citrus flavors provide a nice sweetness to counter the tartness and carry the beer into a smooth, vanilla oak finish.
The 9.6% ABV is very well-masked by a high carbonation and a crisp and dry finish. I was a little nervous about this beer – what with all of the wild yeasts and the barrel aging. I often find barrel-aged wilds a little off-putting, but with Merveilleux, the light oak really just helps round everything out without being too intense. The vinous qualities melded with the brett and the citrus make for a beer that’s really exciting to sip on, as you notice new complexities with each taste.
So yes, it’s pricey, but worth it to try Allagash’s wild yeast shenanigans. No regrets!