Beer Review 0375: Epic Brainless On Cherries Belgian-Style Ale

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Epic Brewing Company hails out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and they primarily focus on high alcohol content beer. Operations started in 2008, when Utah modified its state laws and higher ABV (alcohol by volume) beers could be produced — the founders are David Cole and Peter Erickson, both of whom shared a longtime dream of opening a microbrewery.

The company divides its offerings into three different series: Classic, Elevated, and Exponential. As you might expect, the offerings get more extreme and creative with each jump of series; today’s review, Brainless on Cherries, belongs squarely in the Exponential series.

It should be noted before I get into the review exactly how Epic produce some of their brews: they brew by batch, and each batch might be different than previous editions. Each batch is limited to a certain number of bottles; the batch number for this review is #5, which was bottled on September 6, 2011. That means this beer has about a year and a half of age on it already; I didn’t intend for this to happen, I simply didn’t know the current batch number when I bought the bottle. Read: your reviewer didn’t do all of his homework.

But relax, this beer comes in at a hefty 10.1% ABV, so it will keep for many years. Although I do like to review fresh bottles first to get an accurate baseline for the beer, I think the integrity stands and this review will be an accurate representation for Brainless on Cherries.

For this beer, Epic take their base Belgian-Style brew, Brainless, dose in cherry puree, then age the liquid in red wine oak casks with Champagne yeast for a secondary fermentation. Sounds tasty, right?

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Brainless On Cherries poured an aggressive, large head, light pink in color and composed of large bubbles. It quickly fizzled (audibly) away, to not even a thin cover. Color of the brew was a deep golden-orange with a pink tint thanks to the cherry puree. The body was cloudy, with heavy particles and sediment floating throughout. Lacing never happened.

The nose was fairly appealing at first sniff, but as the drink warmed, it became less likable. Initially, there’s lots of clove and bubblegum — typical Belgian aromas — laced with some cherries and lots of earthen yeast. There’s a bit of orange peel and a heavy vinous white wine presence. As it warmed, the wine note became acidic and didn’t mesh well with the exceptionally earthy yeast. The large alcohol content is completely hidden, avoiding the typical cough syrup scent of some cherry beers.

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On the palate, the initial flavors are mild and just composed of some fruitiness and yeast, but a tart cherry does come out and combines with some bubble gum to make a nice, pleasant opening. Middle of the mouth introduces some of the white wine noted in the aroma, which ups the acid and brings on a dry finish that leaves the tongue with lingering notes of sweet cherry, orange peel, and clove. I found this beer to be medium-bodied, with a medium to thick mouthfeel thanks to the sweetness on the finish.

The take-away: Brainless On Cherries is a very drinkable, almost refreshing beer that has a large ABV which is completely hidden. However, for as much cherries as they claim to add, and the oak aging, the flavors just aren’t complex or special enough to warrant any excitement or money spent per bottle. This is a beer that you have one glass and are done with; finishing the bottle becomes a chore. I will say this: the base Belgian beer that supports the cherries does seem to be of top quality, and I’d love to try that by its lonesome. [Hint: that review will probably be coming soon.]

Epic Brainless On Cherries Belgian-Style Ale, 81 points. Price: $12.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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