Thursday, April 17, 2014

Oshkosh Beer Sampler: Fox River Brewing’s Zinful Abbey

What: Zinful Abbey by Fox River Brewing Company. This is Fox River’s Abbey Normal, their Belgian-style dubbel, aged in an oak, wine barrel. The barrel had previously been used for Jack London Zinfandel of the Kenwood Vineyards, a Sonoma Valley winery. This beer has been in the works for just under a year. It is the first of the beers to come out the barrels nested at the entrance to the brewhouse inside Fratellos.

Where: Wax-dipped bombers (22 oz.) are available in the beer cooler at Fratellos in Oshkosh for $13.

Why: Because it balances complexity with drinkability in a wonderful way. The beer pours to a dark ruby color with a thin, tan lid of foam. The aroma is heavy with fruit; fig, raisin and blackberry most prominent. If you were blindfolded and put your nose to this beer, it’s likely that you’d guess it was wine. That vinous character continues in the flavor. Modestly carbonated for an abbey-style ale, the beer is more fruity than malty. A host of wild berry flavors come through on the front end. The blush of fruit is followed by an oaky tartness mingling with spicy black pepper that makes for a warm, pleasing finish. I’m guessing this is somewhere in the neighborhood of 8-9% ABV, though it drinks much lighter than that. If you decide to try this, plan a meal around it. This is truly a food beer. Roasted chicken or pork would be an ideal pairing. À votre santé.

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