Beer: Firelight [Bourbon-Barrel Aged]
Brewery: Crooked Run (Sterling, VA)
Style: Wheat Wine
15% ABV / N/A IBU
This Loundon County, Virginia is an up-and-comer in the world of sour beers – mainly mid-range ABV, fruited sours with a number of riffs on the berliner weisse style. Crooked Run are also purveyors of a concoction called ‘Skittlebrau,’ a gose aged on strawberry, orange, and lemon Skittles candies. Which is genius. But also horrific. Well, really, it could go either way. But I give them credit for launching an enterprise on the rockier road of sours, when something like Double IPAs would present a clearer pathway to success just by courting the hopheads.
That said, Firelight – Crooked Run’s collaboration with Baltimore’s Charm City Meadworks – is a beast. It will be a miracle if I make it through this review without getting totally fucking hammered, because this wheatwine (think barleywine, but on steroids) clocks in at 15% ABV and for a high-gravity beer, it really sneaks up on you. Some of the booziness is actually an illusion, imparted from the bourbon barrel aging process – hints of vanilla and cinnamon add a spicy kick
As with barleywine beers, the wheatwine (which typically substitutes wheat for barley) is an acquired taste, a better choice for those that prefer fruitier bouquet. Firelight pours with a dark amber color and virtually no carbonation – this is to be expected. Its uniqueness comes from the introduction of avocado honey – a molasses-like substance extracted from the nectar of the avocado tree. Ironically, the perfect pairing for this would be something like avocado toast or a grilled cheese sandwich, a higher fat sandwich to balance the sweetness and maltiness of the wheat wine. If you’re into the oenoiphile experience, treat this like a bottle of wine and age it in a cellar. Just proceed with caution: This is a bottle best split 2-3 ways.