I love the Comic Sans Criminal website. It's a quick, informative and non-preachy response to the greatest typographical problem of our age. I haven't yet directed any Comic Sans criminals towards it, but perhaps the Russian River Brewing Company in Santa Rosa, California should be on the list. One of the most well-respected breweries in the United States shouldn't be turning out labels that look like they were produced on a version of Microsoft Word from 1996.
This came to my attention when I opened a bottle of Supplication, very kindly delivered by Chris and Merideth when they visited Dublin in December. The long description of the labour-intensive production method loses some of its wow-factor by being presented in a typeface more suited to the noticeboard in a primary school. Only a little, though: Supplication, we're told, starts life as a brown ale which is then soured with lambic yeast and bacteria strains and left to mature in pinot noir barrels with some cherries for company.
It strikes me as a rather more contrived process than traditional Belgian lambic brewing, but the result speaks for itself: this is every bit as tasty as the best of sour Belgian beer. Rather than the saltpetre nitrousness I'm more used to, the tartness is based more on an old damp wood flavour, deriving presumably from the oak barrels, though it's not something I've ever noticed in a wood-aged beer before.
Of course being American it's bigger and brasher than your typical softly-spoken Belgian and the 7% ABV is definitely discernable in the flavour, emphasised by the heavy body and gentle sparkle. The cherries, however, are nowhere to be found.
It does have me wondering if all the careful effort is really worth while: this tastes like a beer where the yeast and bacteria are very much in charge and I wonder how much their paths can be steered through details like barrel type and fruit additions. I suspect that they'll produce the same sort of beer regardless. But it's a lovely beer nonetheless, once you've put the bottle and its inappropriate typeface to one side.
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