Following the overwhelming response to the limited craft beer release of Four Headed Wooly Mammoth, a massive 11% ABV Belgian Quad, Southern Tier Brewing Company’s second Cellar Vault offering is taking a different approach. This 5.5% ABV Sour Ale is crisp, tart and reminiscent of the fine Riesling wines coming from the Finger Lakes region in New York. For this hybrid brew, the company sourced Riesling grape juice from Ventosa Vineyards Estate Winery in Geneva, NY on the northern tip of Seneca Lake, the largest of central NY’s Finger Lakes.
The addition of Riesling grape juice to this mouth-puckeringly sour ale adds sweet grape flavors and a crisp finish to this tart, low-bitterness brew. Rhine Cabal drinks like a beer-wine hybrid as its smooth, malty backbone provides a fine, lacey head while the grape addition provides a crisp, fruity finish and a bump in ABV. Wafting this pale straw colored brew will hit your nose with enticingly funky and grassy notes. Sour and sweet combine with just the right amount of tanginess from a long Lactobacillus souring. Mild, tangy fruitiness and slightly warming alcohol leave your taste buds wanting more.
Brewer Geoff Burgess, who originally proposed the craft beer and the partnership with Ventosa Estate posits, “We wanted to work with some of the greats in winemaking, and Ventosa’s wine maker Jenna LaVita are producing top-class Riesling right here in New York State.”
Quality Manager, Karen Stangl, describes the beer’s unique title, “The name comes from ‘Rhine’ which is the home-region of the Riesling grape in Germany, and ‘Cabal,’ which is defined as a ‘conspiratorial group of plotters.’ We paid homage to the key ingredient and our own group of ‘conspirators,’ the Cellar Vault team.”
According to CEO John Coleman, Rhine Cabal and the Cellar Vault Series are meant to be “ultra-rare.” Coleman also notes that these beers, each produced on Southern Tier’s 30bbl pilot system will be “very limited release and allocated to select markets on draught-only.”
The Cellar Vault Series concept was born out of a challenge from Southern Tier founder, Phin DeMink. Brewing, Cellar and Quality teams submitted recipe ideas for limited-edition, well aging beers they wanted to brew. In addition to Phin, the Cellar Vault’s first team includes Director of Brewing and Quality Matt Dunn, Quality Manager Karen Stangl, VP of Operations Sean Lavery, Lead Creative Brewer Jason Hitchcock & Brewer Geoff Burgess.