Tart Lychee is born of Felix, New Belgium’s pale wild ale, which is also used for Eric’s Ale and Le Terrior. (Logically, Oscar is the darker base wild ale, which is used to make La Folie.) To get Tart Lychee, Felix gets all funky with souring bacteria in New Belgium’s wild ale barrels for several years. Felix is then blended with an ale brewed with lychee fruit and cinnamon sticks. Voila, Tart Lychee.
Now, lychee is a sweet, perfumy, alien-looking fruit that is native to China, Taiwan, and Southeastern Asia. And it’s worth noting that the Haybag is a lychee bubble tea junkie. In fact, she put such a strain on lychee crops during the year we lived in Seattle (something of a bubble tea mecca), countless children in Southeast Asia wept themselves to sleep at night for want of lychee.
Perhaps the only person in history to have loved lychee more than the Haybag was Sung Dynasty poet, Su Tung-po. Exiled to an island, he declared that if he could have 300 lychees each day, he could reconcile himself to banishment anywhere. I guess Newark hadn’t been invented yet. And with the number of trips to the can that accompanies a 300 lychee/day habit, I can only assume he was never unbanished and that his name may have actually been Su Tung-poo.
It pours a hazy orange-gold, and its quickly-dissipating white head seemed a little angry. I ain’t mad, though. It smells of mild tropical fruit, accompanied by a little musty funk, a hint of cinnamon, and some wood. It opens moderately sweet with tropical fruit, lychee perhaps, and moves on to a light and fruity tartness. Thankfully, the light funk remains (like more funky than Chuck Mangione, but not quite the Brides of Funkenstein), along with a kiss of cinnamon. As it warms the tropical flavor comes out as the cinnamon and tartness fade (although the latter never completely goes away). What tartness does remain, taunts me to score some more high-grade sour (like a crack addict in search of his first high).
It’s a touch sweeter than I thought it would be. It’s also not as carbonated as I thought it would be (it’s moderately carbonated). And the finish is not as dry as I expected, either; but it’s somewhat dry, crisp, and refreshing on a hot day.
The Haybag: This is the first of the tart/sour beers that I have enjoyed. But when can we go to Eden Center for a lychee bubble tea?