SweetWater Brewing Co. | The Pit & The Pendulum: Cherry
Things of late have been eventful for me, dear readers. A new home, a newborn nephew, and now my first foray into SweetWater Brewing Co.’s The Woodlands Project. The Woodlands opened its doors around this time last year (October 2016) and ever since has served as HQ for SweetWater’s barrel-aging program where they produce small-batch “funky, sour, or otherwise awesome beers.”
I was lucky to fall into a fresh bottle from the “Cork N’ Cage” series, the cherry version of The Pit & The Pendulum. Per the label, it started as a golden ale which was soured with lactobacillus and funked with three strains of brettanomyces. Then, into The Woodlands cellar it went, into oak barrels with 3,000 pounds of tart cherries and fresh brett cultures for bottle conditioning. The result was a lovely liquid which they corked and caged for distribution.
Speaking of the packaging, the label is especially attractive. The neutral color and stenciling serves as a neat background for the bold red accent that is at once intriguing and enticing. The chosen name is all the more interesting. I first thought of folk and fairy tales, like “The Princess and the Pea” and “The Tortoise and the Hare,” but a brief search turned up the beer’s most likely namesake, a horror short story by Edgar Allan Poe (1842) called “The Pit and the Pendulum”. Which I can honestly say I read but do not recommend for the casual reader.
The brew pours as promised. The golden color of the base combined with the red tinge of cherries produces a rich, ruddy orange with caramel and straw-colored hues. It smells and tastes of malt and cherry sweetness, while also drawing on the natural tartness of the Montmorency and Balaton cherries. This fruity tartness melds nicely with the earthy brett funk and the lactic acidity to produce a well-balanced wild ale. The medium-light body rounds out the beer nicely, ensuring a clean, dry finish.
Overall, this is a delicious beer, one I would recommend picking up. Unfortunately, I’m not sure where you’ll be able to find it. SweetWater’s locater function isn’t forthcoming. I suggest frequenting your local bottle shops and keeping eyes peeled. Better yet, get down to Atlanta and visit The Woodlands yourself.