Clutch (new Belgium Brewing)

I’ll admit that I am not a fan of the band Clutch. I am, however, a fan of beer. When I heard that New Belgium was brewing a collaboration beer with the doom/prog-rock band I admit that I was intrigued to see what they would come up with. I was (pleasantly) surprised to see that it was a sour ale. What I wasn’t surprised by was the fact that it was out there, but in a good way. CLUTCH is an American Wild Ale brewed using a blend of stout and sour. This mixed up ale has a heavy 9% ABV.  It started as chance, a sandwich shop encounter between a band and a fan. It ended as the Clutch Collaboration. This pleasing, two-part potion was brewed with chocolate and black malts for a rich and roasty overtone, then fused with a dry, substratum of sour for a bold and audacious flavor. Black as night, this beer is blended at 80% stout, 20% dark sour wood beer for a collaboration that begins with a sour edge and finishes with a big, dark malt character, lingering, sweet on your palate.  The two flavors come as raucous and riotous as the Maryland band and their Fort Collins fans, getting loud and making beer, together. From the get go I was confused about what I was drinking. The bottle did refer to this beer as a “dark sour ale”, but I still wasn’t prepared for the deep black color that poured from my bottle. The head is a 1/2 inch of cola with cascading bubbles just like a stout. A teenie bit of lacing was left behind when all was said and done. And yet again my expectations are shifted. The first scent I picked up when smelling it in the bottle was chocolate-covered cherries. Once it was poured out I detected plums, graham crackers, and chocolate brownies. A hint of some less appealing smells like pencil shavings and cream corn were also noted. Once it has had time to open/warm up  a bit a boozey nail polish remover scent started to appear. Very odd indeed. So far it looks like a Stout and smells like a Doppel Bock…interesting. Just like everything else about this beer the taste is all over the place. It starts with a carbonated water flavor, then graham cracker, mild cherries and raisins, brownies, and finally with a coffee finish. The flavors come and go so quickly you hardly have time to wonder what they’re doing in a sour ale. As it mellows out the cherry and chocolate flavors begin to fight for position, pushing everyone else off to the side. Mouthfeel is medium in viscosity, but light in body. It evaporates quickly and leaves a clinginess along your gumline. Left to my own opinions I never would have guessed this was a sour. But they’re the experts/brewers and that’s what they say. Good beer? Yes. Would I recommend it to someone who wants to know what an American Wild Ale “normally” tastes like? Probably not. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the beer and think it could be a good transitional beer for the stout lovers who want to get into sours, but it’s not my idea of an American Wild Ale. Overall: 7 out of 10 As an AMERICAN WILD ALE: 2.5 out of 10 FOR FANS OF: Bells SOUR STOUT, Jolly Pumpkin MADRUGADA OBSCURA, Blue Point SOUR IMPERIAL CHERRY STOUT, 

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