This big bottle is the beer equivalent of a wool cardigan; it's got heartier elements that herald the coming fall, but could easily fit right in on a warm post-summer day. Perennial Ales make small batch craft brews, with a focus on seasonal beers, locally sourced ingredients, and special releases in barrel-aged and farmhouse styles. Their site states that "We brew our beers with the adventurous craft drinker in mind," and that's no lie. This was our first tasting of what Perennial had to offer and it definitely won't be our last.
The nose on this beer is a surprisingly astringent and fruity, like vinegar and blueberry pancakes; definitely not what you'd expect from something with "black walnut" in the title. The taste is an equally unique blend of classic German flavors, a nice bit of nuttiness, and some sour notes that feel like the last bright rays of summer struggling to hold on. Its starts with a very dunkel-style malted wheatiness; rich roasted flavors with light drinkability. The surprise comes at the end when it finishes on an almost gueze-like sourness that leaves you wanting another sip. While I wouldn't sit and drink more than a couple glasses on their own, this beer was made for food; its richness complements heavier foods while the light body and sour notes keep fattiness in check. It would pair well with roasted meats like a pork chop or lamb, or a rich braised beef or stew. If you can find it, grab a couple bottles, fire up the grill, and make a toast to sweater weather. -- Brown
Perennial Artisan Ales Black Walnut Dunkel (St. Louis, MO)