Sonoma Springs Freude (Wild American Ale?)

While I really enjoy most brews coming out of this tiny little brewery tucked lovingly into the heart of Sonoma wine country, this brew fell far short of what I was looking for.


The Freude is described as a Wild American Ale as well as a fig Lambic, but I’d have a hard time placing into either category.  The bottle says it  is “intended to provide a harmonious backdrop of malt, yeast, hops, fruit and spices” which makes it sound kinda Christmasy, right?  I’m still not sure where to place this.


First, the pour.  I picked up a 750mL for $17. Pricey, I know, and at 7.2% ABV, it falls below my “price per ABV” ratio, but I was on a bit of a sour-induced beer buying frenzy and wasn’t thinking straight.  It pours a big nice dark frothy head with some beautiful lacing. I used a Belgian tulip glass to accommodate the dark and dirty beer.


The smell is definite fig and dark plum with some lemon/citrus thrown in there somewhere.  Smells nice and exciting and I could’t wait to drink it. The bottle indicates that 30 pounds of Mission Figs were used in each barrel. Makes sense.


By the first drink though, I thought ugh. This is not what I expected or wanted.  Very, very strange flavor of burned toast and charred wood…and not in a good way at all.  My lovely wife–who’s always quick with a strange comparison–insisted she tasted pickle juice.  I didn’t sense that at all.  Yeah, it’s sour, and it’s definitely got an aged tongue to it, but the positive aspects wain to the negatives.


I’ll admit, it got a bit more palatable as the bottle went on, but this is not a bottle that I’d pay for again.  I checked Beer Advocate to see what the real beer geeks were saying, and most of them loved it. At that price though, trust me and try one of Sonoma Springs‘ other offerings (like the oak aged double black IPA or the Scottish Gruitt I reviewed last week.)


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