(As an aside, before I get to the description of this fine beer, this Thrillist Best Craft Breweries article which lists Rogue as the best Oregon brewery leads me to believe the author has never been to Oregon. I generally try not to diss on craft beer or those who brew it, and I'd certainly agree with some of their picks...but really? Has the author ever heard of Block 15 or Deschutes or Cascade Barrel House, Humble or any of the other truly stellar breweries - or breweries doing amazing things, like The Commons or De Garde - in Oregon who blow Rogue out of the water??) Okay, where was I?
Oh, yes, the Framboise Rouge. A Belgian-inspired, open-fermented sour wheat beer (think Belgian lambic-style but with a blend of witbier yeast, Brettanomyces ("wild" yeast) and lovely lactic acid-producing bacteria, and with higher alcohol (8%) than a traditional Belgian lambic, usually somewhere around 4-6%). Then, aged ten months with organic raspberries in pinot noir barrels. With the right beer, aging in wine barrels can really add a lot of luscious complexity, integrating with and accentuating flavors which are already present in the beer. This is an example of one of those beers.
It pours a beautiful translucent ruby, with an interesting tawny hue and a thick, foamy slightly pink head that dissipates in a blink. Smells of fresh-crushed raspberries, wine and funky oak. Super-tart, bright, fresh raspberries with beautifully-integrated red wine, slightly acetic, with funky oak flavors. The berry-wine-oakiness really opens up and shines as it warms up, if you can wait that long to drink it. Oh my...such great flavor. This is what a framboise should be. Block 15 does not disappoint, once again.
It's still on tap at 1856 at the time of this article, so get there before it's gone: NE Prescott and 15th Ave in Portland.
Cheers! ~ Craft Beer Gut