All You Need to Know
Quick Take: Purple Prose is a miss for me. The bitter, mineral seltzer finish just kills any positive vibes and leaves the impression of flavored mineral water. It’s an mf’er of a tart beer, but calling this a sour is overselling it. It’s gassy without the acidity and leaves an unpleasant feeling in the stomach. One of the biggest whiffs in recent memory.
Brew Facts: Comprised of a husband and wife team, Grimm is a nomadic brewery, meaning they don’t have a firm brewery location, instead using the facilities of established breweries to produce their beer. Recipes are developed in an apartment kitchen and only single batches are brewed full scale. So, there’s a good chance that Purple Prose will never be brewed again, thus making this review somewhat irrelevant. Wheee!
Appearance: For a beer called Purple Prose, I shouldn’t be surprised by the glass of fizzy, violet-tinged cranberry kool aid in front of me, yet I am. Rolling it around in the glass, it moves like liquid jello that hasn’t quite set (I’ve had a blackcurrant wine that moved in the same, unnaturally creepy way). A wedge of white bubbles rings the glass with the slightest pink hue. The liquid underneath is appropriately murky. An aggressive swirl of the tumbler coats the glass in patches of small suds.
Aroma: A sniff and the jello theme rolls on. The aroma of a freshly torn packet of raspberry mix hides some timid funk just under the surface. It’s pleasant enough, but the pissy blackcurrant smell hangs around to wave a wary red flag that something might be off. My nose finds little beyond the obvious, but the flavor may have more to offer.
Taste/Mouth Feel: As I’m want to do, I decided to drink this sour on the warmer side. A mistake I don’t suggest you make. My palate is assaulted with a mineral, very mild sour seltzer front and catty ribes that slink in the background. The finish is dry, off the vine berry that lacks the sweeter, brighter fruitiness this desperately needs. Instead of juicy berry, it settles for a sugar-free candy like sweetness that dries up right before it gets going.
If this were considered a fruit/sour beer, it’s on the blander, earthier side that may please the natural/organic crowd. For me, it’s like a weight watcher’s diet black raspberry soda that’s pushed flavor science to the edge of identifiable by the human tongue and only results in the caloric sum total of an afternoon belch. Any amount of sour is a fading afterthought.
Willing to give this a second go, I dropped the temp and tried again. Tangy and tart blackcurrant, like an unrippened berry off the bush, still dominates, but the sour pushes a little more to the forefront. The raspberry barely has a presence, waving its hand wildly in the back of the room like the kid with all the answers. An improvement, but it’s still working with the same flavors and your enjoyment will vary depending on your deeply repressed feelings towards currants. Side note, I also just realized this was brewed on oak. The only reason I came to this realization is because oak is mentioned on the label. Take that for what you will.
Final Thoughts: I’ve had exactly two Grimm beers prior to Purple Prose, Super Symmetry and Double Negative, a tasty gose and imperial stout respectively. I’ve also enjoyed blackcurrant wine in the past, relishing its unique intensity and syrupy sweetness in small doses (an aspect woefully missing from Purple Prose). Even with my history, Purple Prose is a miss for me. The bitter, mineral seltzer finish just kills any positive vibes and leaves the impression of flavored mineral water. It’s an mf’er of a tart beer, but calling this a sour is overselling it. It’s gassy without the acidity and leaves an unpleasant feeling in the stomach.
In a market of increasingly interesting sour and fruit forward beers, the dry, catty qualities just don’t do it for me. For those into these flavors, this is your beer. Buy it, drink it, love it. But if you are going to indulge, chill it to a properly C-O-L-D temp as it is a loose, bland mess warm. For me, one of the biggest whiffs in recent memory.
Second Opinions: I drank this at a local bar and shared it with the bartender and another patron. While they initially had a more positive response than I did, they ultimately gave it a pass on subsequent tastings due to the strong blackcurrant flavors, bland finish, and lack of balancing sweetness.
Recommendation: For blackcurrant fans only.