I don't remember exactly where it was*, but I have a recollection of being warned off Mongozo Coconut as being, objectively, The Worst Beer In The World. The other ones in the range -- from off-kilter (and often not in a good way) Belgian brewery Huyghe -- aren't up to much so I never troubled myself seeking out the coconut one.
And then a few weeks ago an invitation came in from Fade Street Social to try out their new beer offer. On Monday nights you can go up to their rooftop winter garden and get a variety bucket of five beers for 20 quid. It's a varied and mostly quite decent range, covering a broad range of styles and strengths, from Ireland, the UK, Belgium, Germany and the US. You can pick your own or let the staff make recommendations. All very jolly, not to mention educational. So, on the evening in question a group of us from Beoir dutifully trooped along not quite knowing what to expect, and out came the beer. The full range, in fact. A fair bit of horse trading went on at the table, with bottles migrating towards the drinkers who preferred them and some being outright sent back to be exchanged at the bar. But amongst all this, there was Mongozo Coconut. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try it.
The colour was the first shock: the milky translucent white of coconut milk. It's questionable whether it really counts as a beer at all based on the appearance... and on the taste: massively sugary, as one would expect, and roaringly unsubtle with the coconut. If you ever wondered what a tin of condensed coconut milk would taste like, your answer is in this bottle. Here's the thing though: Mongozo Coconut is not actively unpleasant, at least if you have a high tolerance for sweetness in beers, as I do. I'm actually kinda glad I found that out: thanks Fade Street Social!
I thought I was done with Belgian coconut beers, and the last place I expected to find it again was in Hopus Primeur 2013. The branding reeks of a knock-off of Duvel Tripel Hop, though while the latter specifies what it has been hopped with each year, the Hopus just boasts of dry-hopping and says no more than that. Going in for the smell I got... coconut! A massive hit of it in the aroma, though thankfully absent from the taste. Otherwise it's very Hopus: sharply bitter, astringent, with a nasty washing-up liquid tang. Nothing that suggests the fresh hop aromas one expects from a bottle with the words "dry hop" plastered all over it.
I probably should make a recommendation on which of these two very different beers is better than the other, but I think I'd feel dirty either way.
To finish on a cleaner note, the star of the show at Fade Street Social was Lindemans Cuvée René. I had the kriek version last year and was surprised by how good it was. The straight gueuze is of a similar quality: not quite as full on, nor as subtly complex as the more artisan lambics, but streets ahead of most of the ones turned out by the bigger breweries. Properly sour and mega refreshing because of it. Thanks once again to our hosts for endearingly allow us to swap the lesser lagers (and the occasional Belgian fruit beer) for more of this.
[*most probably here. Thanks Bailey!]
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