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Sour Power review, and a party pack

Posted by Gary Dzen, Staff  August 30, 2012 11:02 AM

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It's fun to review single beers, but most of you buy your beer in some kind of packaging, whether it be a six-pack or a four-pack or a mixed-pack. Recently, brewers and distributors have become more creative in packaging their beer. Beer Advocate magazine, which I sometimes write for, has a monthly column on creative beer labels. Beer is a business, and marketing is how you sell it. Packaging can help move merchandise.

Two very different packaging options recently hit the market. One is geared toward casual beer drinkers looking to have a good time, and the other is geared toward craft beer drinkers who enjoy some of the world's finest sour beers.

monkscafe.jpgSince this is a craft beer blog, I'll spend more time on the Sour Power pack. In stores now, it packages three of the world's best Belgian sour beers together. The pack is distributed by the Global Beer Network and includes two beers each of Monk's Cafe, Petrus Oud Bruin, and Petrus Aged Pale Ale. The Monk's Cafe (5.5 percent ABV) is a Flemish Burgundy; old brown beer creates a port-wine base and is mixed with fresh dark beer that adds sweeter caramel notes. This is one of my favorite beers in the world. It's a sour beer, but it's an approachable one.

The Petrus Oud Bruin (5.5 percent ABV) is an old brown, made by blending Petrus Aged Pale Ale with fresh brown ale. Notes of grapes are balanced by hops, and the beer finishes clean. The Petrus Aged Pale (7.3 percent ABV) itself gets it sourness from the lactic acids produced by organisms living inside the wood grain of French Calvados barrels, not from spontaneous fermentation. The beer is aged for 24 to 36 months. It's much more sour than the other two, with notes of green apple skin. I like this beer very much.

The entire pack retails for $24. It is absolutely delicious, and the pop-art vibe of the box and "sour power" labeling is very clever. I found the whole thing to be pretty cool, though I'm not sure if any new craft beer drinkers will buy the beer because of the marketing. At $4 a beer they're not giving this stuff away. I found a pack at Social Wines in South Boston.

Another packaging option comes from Bruvado Imports. Bruvado packages beer and whiskey or tequila in the same package; you get five beers and one 200ml bottle of booze. This is obviously marketed to a different crowd than the sour pack. In fact, these two groups of drinkers may never overlap. Still, in a continuing effort to bring a little contrast to the blog, I decided to give the Bruvado beer a shot.

bruvado.jpgA note on the booze: I'm not sure shooting tequila is great fodder for a review, and I'm not qualified to review spirits. I do know that you shouldn't shoot whiskey, but that probably won't stop some partygoers. I do like the idea of one package for both at a reasonable price ($12.99).

The beer itself? Not bad. It pours a pale, fizzy yellow, but I'm reminded of a weaker version of Dos Equis; less carbonation, maybe no hops, but a nice malty flavor and a very smooth finish. There's a strange corn taste in there as well, but if you're used to drinking cheap Mexican beer, this shouldn't throw you off. If you're handed this beer at a party, you won't turn it away. New to the area, it's now being sold all over the state, including Atlas Liquors in Quincy and Blanchard's in West Roxbury.

What do you think? Ever bought a bunch of beer because it was packaged well? Will you be trying either of these?

Gary Dzen

About 99 Bottles

Gary Dzen writes about craft beer here and in the Globe when he's not covering the Celtics for He can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @GaryDzen.

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