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Where: The Sovereign, 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Price: $12/13 oz.
Everything Old is New Again
Considering the fast rise in popularity of bitter, hop-brimmed IPAs over the last decade, it?s nearly impossible to find a bar or shop that doesn?t carry at least one. But Neighborhood Restaurant Group, operators of Bluejacket, ChurchKey, and Rustico, have gone back to the classics for inspiration for their latest beer-focused venture. The Sovereign, which opened last month in Georgetown, deals exclusively in Belgian and Belgian-style brews, and the menu includes more than 300 bottles and 50 taps. Thirty of those taps rotate a selection of lesser known Belgian imports, and the others feature a slew of the best Belgian-style beers made outside Belgium. Straddling both categories is a beer called Alvinne Cuvée Freddy Zymatore 2015.
Brewed by Flanders-based Picobrouwerij (a Flemish play on ?nano-brewery?) Alvinne, Cuvée Freddy is a blend of sour red ale and stout aged one year in Burgundy wine barrels. It?s available to drinkers on both sides of the Atlantic, but a special version exists just for us Yanks, courtesy of North American importer B. United International. For their Zymatore blending project, B. United ages beers in a variety of wine and craft spirit barrels. For the 2015 Cuvée Freddy blend, they put some of Alvinne?s base beer for Freddy in vessels used to produce Sicilian Marsala wine, South African Thelema Mountain pinot noir, and New York?s Hillrock whiskey. The result is a wonderfully strange beer with layers of flavor. Its nose hints at balsamic vinegar and beef, while the beer itself suggests sour cherries, umami, and wood. The 8-percent-alcohol brew is surprisingly light and has a salty, oaky, slightly boozy finish. Interest piqued? Alas, the keg I sampled is gone, but several versions of Cuvée Freddy will be available at a special event at The Sovereign in April featuring Alvinne founder Davy Spiessens. In the meantime, the bar?s diverse selection of Belgians will almost certainly offer something just as unique to satisfy your curiosity.Photo by Tammy Tuck