One of San Diego's hardest to come by beers is Duck Duck Gooze. The Lost Abbey gueuze is a blend of old and young barrel-aged wild ales that only releases in small quantities every three or four years. Well, it released it 2009, then again in 2013. You can still technically find bottles of the 2013 vintage, if you're willing to spend $500.
The third-ever release was scheduled for 2016, but it's been cropping up a little early. Attentive beer geeks have probably chased it down in one or two local arenas of late, but it gueuze fast, so to speak. So when I caught a whiff of it appearing at the Lost Abbey's tasting room in San Marcos, I dropped by to give it a taste.
A 40 dollar taste. The 2013 bottles sold for $40 apiece, but that's not what was happening here. Here it was on on tap as part of a Vintage Flight package: six 4-ounce tasters of rare Lost Abbey beers. As my beertender explained, there was no breaking it up — all six taps were earmarked for the vintage flight only. Forty bucks for the flight, or no Duck Duck Gooze for me.
That's the equivalent of about $27 per pint. I said no. Then I said maybe. Then I rationalized the hell out of being a beer writer and needing to experience such things and handed over the credit card. Merry Christmas to me, I guess.
The other five tasters were beers I've encountered before: Red Poppy and Cuvee de Tomme are wine-barrel-aged sours with sour cherries added — not dissimilar, but at 5% and 11% ABV, respectively, pack different levels of earthy sour punch. Framboise de Amarosa is a personal favorite, also wine-barrel-aged, but with raspberries. Sweet, tart, winey, and delicious.
I'm less a fan of Agave Maria and Santo Ron Diego. Both strong ales hover around 13% ABV, the former aged with agave in tequila barrels, the latter rum barrels with spice. Both are too sweet for my palate, with enough alcohol to affect the overall taste. You have to really like a strong, sweet ale to appreciate them. I wound up regarding them as a pair of seven dollar sacrifices for the opportunity to drink four beautiful sours.
I'll happily add Duck Duck Gooze to my list of Lost Abbey favorites. Dry and cider-like, with a very nice, puckering tartness and sparkling texture that livened up the top of my mouth, its wild yeasts gave it a hint of funk to balance the sour. But what stood out most was my palate fondly retaining the memory of each sip, telling me in no uncertain terms I wanted more.
A full bottle at 40 bucks might have been the way to go. Not for the casual beer drinker, but for fans of aged beer with money to burn. I can say its presence alongside the Framboise gave this high-priced flight a special-occasion feeling. At least, that's what I'll tell myself when the credit card bill arrives. If I had a wife, she'd kill me.