Unless you’re already planning on driving to Bend for the release event at Crux Fermentation Project tomorrow, get a preview today at Belmont Station. Freakcake is, freakishly, one of the few Oud Bruin style ales to be made in Oregon. In this era of burgeoning barrel-aged sour beers, you'd expect more stabs at this complex and artful style. (Also from Bend, Deschutes makes the Dissident, which is no coincidence since Crux’s brewmaster Larry Sidor previously held that title at Deschutes. And Upright's Late Harvest comes close.) An Oud Bruin is also referred to as a Flanders Brown. While Pfriem has released twin monsters Flanders Red and Flanders Blonde (a flaxen style they made up), we haven’t seen a tart brown from them. So if you’d like to discover what’s so great about Oud Bruins, here’s a chance.

Freakcake is part of Crux’s Banished Series (of beers banished to oak barrels, widely and simply dubbed barrel-aged). There’s also Better Off Red, a Flanders Red, but at a preview of Freakcake’s release, the brewery provided me with the new 2016 bottling and one from last year for a vertical tasting for the ultimate sensory experience of how this cellar-worthy beer ages over time. Freakcake contains roasted Belgian aromatic malts that produce fruity esters; the beer’s augmented by lemon and orange zest, then re-fermented with Brettanomyces and flecked with sour cherries, raisins, cranberries, figs, dates, and currants.

The new iteration pours tawny brown/burnt orange with next to no head. The initial whiff is of sour cherries jubilee and balsamic. At first sip, it struck me as a Manhattan-like cocktail of orange peel, mashed Bing cherries, Pinot noir, and spices of cinnamon, allspice, and ginger.

Overall, it straddles the line between Flanders red and brown, but its tart, acidic kick washes over the malt sweetness. Those raisin and date flavors come through at the end of the glass after it has warmed, segueing from Pinot to port. There’s also a huge richness in aroma and swallow, start to finish. I picture it going with small game like rabbit or fowl or anything the Belgians can dream up for dessert.

The year-old 2015 bottling poured the same color, perhaps a bit more ruby when held up to the light. And more, not less, carbonation with a tanner head. (Hooray for bottle conditioning.) The acetic tinge in the nose is gone, leaving an aroma of overripe fruit. The brightness is gone and falls firmly in Oud Bruin territory with deep, decadent roasted malts and some molasses or cane syrup. Is that black cherry coulee and fig compote I detect? Orange and angostura bitters notes remain, becoming more pronounced, finishing with vanilla and burnt sugar. If you’re sitting on a bottle from last year, it’d make a seriously killer companion to creme brûlée or fig tart.

It's amazing what just one year of age does to this beer. It probably also doesn’t hurt getting to try it alongside Sidor the brewmaster, who’ll be present at the bottle release this afternoon (Thurs May 12) from 5 to 7 pm at Belmont Station (4500 SE Stark).