When Richard Jack told me he had brewed a Cherry Lambic Stout that had been aged over bourbon oak, I immediately decided that this was to be my favorite beer style of all time. I hadn’t actually had one before, but I pictured Russian River Consecration and Old Rasputin making a baby and was immediately sold (and frankly, a little turned on).
In hindsight this was probably setting the bar a bit high. While I imagine my Consecration/Rasputin lovechild is probably out there somewhere, to expect it to come from a homebrewer (even a very very good one) was asking a bit much.
On the nose I didn’t get obvious cherry, but there was what some beer writers might term “a suggestion”. What I did definitely smell was the bourbon barrel the beer was aged in, though luckily not too much because the smell of bourbon makes me sick now (blame my youth/Kentucky Gold). It was a woody, slightly smoky smell that complimented the toasted chocolate and espresso aromas nicely.
In the mouth there was a slight plum-skin like tartness, flavours of milk chocolate and slightly bitter roasty malt, and a dry slightly hoppy finish. It wasn’t as sour or as lambic-y as I was expecting, but it was a tasty and complex stout, and a really good homebrew.
Aha! I just sent Richard to ask him if it was really really a lambic, and he tells me that it’s more of a “more of a bastard, low born, kiwi-not-knowing-what-he’s-doing lambic.” Basically it started life as a stout, then he chucked some cherries in that had been wild fermented with the bugs around his house, and then he “recklessly” decided to add charred oak sticks from his bourbon aging carboy.
This all came as a bit of a surprise because I thought of Richard as a very precise homebrewer, rather than a “reckless chucker-inner” – but it sounds like he may be beer’s answer to Jamie Oliver yet.