I’ve been holding on to an extra rare bottle of the Batch 1 Babalon (release in 2014) for a special occasion. Apparently that special occasion is Kris texting me and saying that we should drink it together. So we did! We popped a 2015 Batch 2 as well for comparison. 2015 saw a much wider release than 2014, and according to the legends and vague rumors, Batch 1 was only released in a dozen or so cases!
Company: Anthem Brewing Company
Location: Oklahoma City, OK
ABV: 7% or so
Style/Description: Sour Ale Aged on Oak Barrels with Tart Cherries and Raspberries
Price: $15 for 22 oz bottle
Appearance: The 2014 poured a deep ruby, lightly cloudy with some mild head and lace. The 2015 poured more copper, with almost nonexistent head.
Nose: Both vintages have a tart earthy funk aroma, with the 2015 having much more oaky barrel character and florals, and a bit more of the fruity cherry notes on the 2014.
Taste: We’ll start with the 2015. It begins very oaky, with plenty of barrel character, which mellows significantly as it warms and opens up. The fruit and cherries come through somewhat, though the barrel dominates. Some sickly florals and perfume notes. The mouthfeel seems a bit sugary and sweet for a sour, even with a big 7% ABV, possibly under attenuated? A surprisingly slick and slippery mouth. The 2014 is quite a bit different. The barrel has almost completely fallen out, with a much more vinous and tart flavor. Grape must and cherries shine through, with mild barrel and oak. Much more light and dry than the 2015, very nice.
Finish: The finish on the 2015 isn’t very pleasant. Sticky, tart and funky, with some astringent chemical flavors. The 2014 is much cleaner, crisp and dry with a light hint of cherry on the palate. The astringents of the 2015 have completely cleaned up in the 2014.
Overall: It was fun to do a side by side tasting, these are two very different beers. The 2014 was the clear winner, though time will tell if that is just the extra time or a difference in the recipe, yeast etc. The 2015 wasn’t bad, but had some problems that distracted from the qualities. The 2014 was very nice however, much drier and fruitier than its younger brother. The 2014 reminded me of a lambic.