Hello Sour Beer Friends!
This review is dedicated to the peach fans out there and wraps up the reviews for three excellent sour beers my friends and I drank while homebrewing last weekend. The other two beers were Jester King’s excellent raspberry sour Atrial Rubicite and The Lost Abbeys funky and delicious cherry sour Red Poppy. We finished our night with a third American fruit sour called Pechish Woods by Cisco Brewers of Nantucket island in Massachusetts. Cisco Brewers is a brewery, distillery, and winery that produces several very nice sour beers as part of their “woods” barrel aged series and their “island reserve” specialty release series. The winery portion of the business was founded in 1981 while their brewery came online in 1995.
Pechish woods is a 4.88% ABV American sour beer aged in oak with peaches added. When we poured the beer it produced a moderate level of white head on top of a pale hazy orange & straw colored beer. The aroma presented strongly with peaches and yogurty lactic tartness. The fruit aromas reminded us of peach jam & preserves. The beer also had a light smell of white wine must and fruit flesh similar to apple and pear skins.
When tasting the beer we were hit right up front with a pleasantly strong puckering acidity. The sour profile has a lemon-like citric acid flavor in addition to the more typical malic and lactic acid presence. We felt that the souring was achieved with approximately one-half lactic acid produced by the mixed fermentation and the remaining acidity was an equal mix of malic acid from the fruit and citric acid (either from the fruit or from a winemakers acid blend). The souring is clean and while quite intense it was not abrasive. There was no acetic acid (vinegar) present. It took a few sips to get adjusted to the beer’s acidity, after which the peach flavors came through nicely. The fruit tastes like whole peach puree and also a little like candy peach rings without any artificial sweetness. There is a light sulfury note in the flavor that is indicative of the use of stone fruits such as peaches or apricots. In addition to the peach flavors, we could taste wheat malt in the profile as well as some neutral oak similar to that found in white wines.
Brettanomyces presence in the aging profile is notable both from the overall dryness of the product and from the light tropical fruit esters and doughy yeast flavors present. The beer isn’t particularly funky. There are no farmyard, leather, or musty flavors being contributed by the Brettanomyces. The carbonation level is medium to high and the body is fairly thin. There are some light tannins present from the fruit skins and these add to both the dryness of the finish and the overall mouthfeel.
Overall, Pechish Woods is a very well made American fruit sour. The beer isn’t a fruit lambic nor is it trying to be in my opinion. This beer strikes a very flavorful balance between an aggressive level of clean souring and a high intensity of fruit flavor and aroma. The peach aromas are perfume-like and as a fan of fruited sours I could tell I was going to be in for a treat just by smelling the beer. Following the enticing aroma, the flavor and overall drinking experience of Pechish Woods does not disappoint. The beer’s relatively low alcohol, high tartness, jammy fruit flavors, and nice dry finish all come together to make this a nearly perfect summer beer. If I had more of these in my cellar, I would definitely be opening up a number more to enjoy poolside on warm sunny days. Pechish Woods is absolutely not a beer to pass up if you find it for sale… I will certainly be on the hunt for more.