Living in apartments my entire life has made cellaring beers difficult, which is disappointing. I mean, not that I believe in cellaring all your beers, necessarily, but keeping beers away and out of sight makes me far less likely to drink them “just because.” When you get a special beer, it’s nice to be able to save it for a special occasion, right? That was sort of the story behind this Pineapple Upside-Down Sour, by Paradox Beer Company. Madison and I visited the tap room all the way down in Divide, Colorado last year. It was a Sunday, and they were clearing out their bottle cellar with a whole mess of discounts. While snagging a few for ourselves, we got to talking to the beertender there, who was raving about this beer, which they were sadly out of. “If you find a place that has the Pineapple Upside-Down, you make sure you buy it, and hold onto it,” she told us.
Sure enough, after a scenic trek through the mountains back home, we stopped at Superior Liquors and discovered the Pineapple Upside-Down Sour sitting in the cooler. We bought two bottles. One, we drank right away to see what the fuss was about, and the other – this one that we enjoyed a few days ago – we stored away. What would happen to the beer after aging in the bottle for a year? On every bottle of Paradox beer, they advise the consumer to hold onto the bottle for a year before enjoying. Let’s find out why!
Pineapple Upside-Down Sour: The Basics
- Brewery: Paradox Beer Company (Divide, CO)
- Style: Golden Sour Ale (with fruit adjuncts)
- ABV: 7.6%
Pineapple Upside-Down Sour: The Details
For those of you unfamiliar with Paradox Beer Company, the brewery releases specialty beers throughout the year in what they call the “Skully Barrel” series. The Pineapple Upside-Down sour is also known as “Skully Barrel #40.” The lower the number, then, the older the beer. This beer was designed, apparently, to emulate an old fashioned pineapple upside-down cake. Advertising a bright pineapple taste, smoothed out after living in a rum barrel for several months, this beer is designed to bring the drinker back to desserts in the midwest with strange relatives who believe “jello” is a salad. As I poured the beer into our goblets, wave after wave of funk, pineapple, and brown sugar smells wafted my way. Indeed, it reminded me quite a bit of dinner with relatives in Ohio.
In the glass, the beer is a hazy gold, with flecks of yeast still floating dancing through the body of the beer. See, Paradox’s beers are aged in barrels, and then conditioned in bottles, so having some particulate floating around in a hazy beer is not all that unusual. The flavor of this beer is something else. It’s very tart, citrusy, and very sweet, like fresh pineapple juice. It has a very clear tropical acidity to it, with malty and yeasty undertones. In the background of this beer is a bit of rum flavor (although I remember this being much more pronounced in the bottle I drank a year ago). However, some other flavors – most likely from the aging on rum barrels – remained. Hints of vanilla, brown sugar, and oak chips meld with the bright pineapple and grapefruit at the front of this beer, producing a drink that is complex, sophisticated, and absolutely delicious.
Last year at Paradox, our beertender told us about a bottle of Pineapple Upside-Down Sour she had stashed away. She had been holding onto it for six months. “This is the beer I am bringing to Thanksgiving,” she said, coaxing us to get a bottle of our own. After drinking the beer a year later, I could absolutely see this beer being a hit at a Thanksgiving table. The bright pineapple and clear acidity would compliment well with white meat – pork, chicken, or turkey. In fact, we drank this beer with a dinner of chicken and broccoli, and loved how the saltiness of the chicken played with the sweet and sour of this beer. Should you age all your beers? Probably not. However, if it means storing special beers for special occasions instead of just drinking all your supply right away, put a few bottles into storage. Oh yeah, and make sure the Pineapple Upside-Down Sour is one of those special beers.