Note: Now that we've run the experiment, I'll include the names of the beers below for posterity. The brewery is Goose Island, now owned by In-Bev. Which doesn't really answer the question, does it?
Beer 1, Sour Peach Saison (Mae, unreleased)All right, you got it figured out?
This beer started life as a saison, though I found no evidence in the archaeological record. Because, to the base saison were added peaches and brettanomcyes--and those elements manhandled the beer and squashed whatever character might have come from previous yeasts. The peach flavor is light and delicate, but the beer is pretty sharply sour. The result is a beer that's less in balance than detente, with the acetic sour notes battling the sweet peachiness. Ultimately, the sour wins. Sour heads will love it, but regular beer drinkers might find it crosses the line.
Beer 2, Sour Fruit Beer (Juliet)
The second beer is an American sour, brewed to no traditional style. It is built on an idiosyncratic recipe that incorporates rye and Munich malt into what might be an otherwise familiar blond ale. The rye is useful in adding depth to the palate--and I also wonder how it stands up to the brettanomyces, which are added to the Cabernet barrels the beer is aged in. (Hypothesis: rye may offer studier snacking for the wild yeasts.) Beer 2 is finished with blackberries in the barrels. The beer is punch-colored and perfectly bright, with a head of uniform bubbles--akin to cider that form and dissipate. The aroma is a mixture of tart, wild yeasts and an earthy berry note. The flavor evolves from a straight, berry-infused lactic taste to something with a touch of acetic, and then a long, dry brett finish. It's a dusty, not funky, tart. The berries provide flavor and, as the beer warms, gentle sweetness. Balance is impressive between fruit and funk, and the brett at the perfect stage of dryness. An accomplished, tart, and lovely sour.
Beer 3, Imperial Stout Aged With, errr... (unreleased stout)
Blogger error. I took notes on this beer somewhere, but they're lost to me now. It was a barrel-aged beer that was aged with my mind wants to say vanilla bean. Or something. What I do recall is that was too much sweetness for my palate.
Beer 4, Sour Ale With Cherries (Madame Rose)
The brewery suggests by calling this a "Belgian style brown" an oud bruin, but I think this is misleading. It's a darkish sour beer, but it's not really brewed to style. That's fine, because it was an exceptional beer on its own merit. Rather than brown, it's a very deep amber/bronze with red highlights (the brewery calls it crimson, but that stretches things a bit). It has a lush cherry nose inflected by just a bit of sour, musty brettanomcyes. Made properly, sour beers pull a lot of flavor and aroma from fruit, almost like the captured, distilled essence, without becoming sweet. Beer 4 manages that perfectly. Balance is added by a milder acidity--bretty, but not aggressive--and some tannins. There's a bit of the soft maltiness remaining as well. (Suggestive that it's best not to age this beer.) The brett provides depth and dryness, but it's not a challenging beer. It is complex and approachable, with malt, fruit, and tartness balanced in an effervescent, lush beer. My favorite of the bunch.
Update. I should have mentioned that I planned to reveal the brewery tomorrow--with, of course, some commentary.