Just shy of its two-year anniversary last weekend, Tampa Heights' Hidden Springs Aleworks released a beer that makes a compelling argument for drinking local.
Oubliette is the French word for what we typically describe in English as a dungeon . It's an odd name for a beer, especially one with such a colorfully painted label, featuring passionfruit and blackberries — the fruits used to flavor the beer — against a soft lavender and yellow backdrop.
The beer is a sour blonde ale aged in Sauvignon Blanc barrels, flavored with the aforementioned passion fruit and blackberry. The fruit gives the beer a rosy, opaque appearance, while also providing a dense, juicy fruit aroma that plays well with low-level barnyard funk and black pepper notes.
Like many white wine barrel-aged beers, Oubliette has an underlying creaminess that helps to smooth out its acidity, creating the impression of a moderate tartness, rather than the bracing sourness that you might expect, given the aggressiveness of Hidden Springs' other sour beer offerings. The fruit additions are well-executed and unique, with tart jam flavors from the blackberries and lush tropical nectar from the passionfruit.
Even recently, barrel-aged fruited wild ales were niche items of wildly varying quality, with Belgian lambics setting a high and rarely met standard. Beers like Oubliette rival the complexity of these beers very well, further demonstrating that small-scale, local beers are adjusting to the learning curve surprisingly well. While purists will insist that the Belgians still have a monopoly on these kind of beers, it's not unreasonable to suggest that the little guys like Hidden Springs are getting really good, really quickly.
Find bottles of Oubliette at Hidden Springs' tasting room in Tampa (1631 N Franklin St.), as well as at Hawthorne Bottle Shoppe (2927 Central Ave.) in St. Petersburg.
— Justin Grant
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