The beers at Borefts, like many of the attendees, offered a generous insight into what's currently in fashion. It seems to be all about the sour these days, a modern twist on styles developed before ingredients were first-rate and hygiene was everything it is now. If you don't have some sort of hacked gose in the line-up you may as well be brewing... er... no: there isn't really a style that's too unhip to be ever resurrected ironically, is there? Anyway, Italian brewery Toccalmatto had a gose, made with only the poshest of salt, unspecified red berries, and called Salty Angel. It's a cloudy pinkish colour, looking and smelling for all the world like a Bellini. Lots of clean mineral dryness overlaid with fresh fruit and just a gentle seaside spray of salt in the finish. A bit lacking in flavour, perhaps, but nicely refreshing and quite quaffable at just 4.3% ABV. Not that it's the sort of thing one would expect to arrive in pints.
Just edging into sour territory is The Kernel's Bière de Table: a 4.6% ABV pale yellow saison with very dry, almost crunchy, grains and a refreshing hint of citrus. A mild vinegar undertone qualifies it for this post while also enhancing its cleansing refreshment power.
A few were more funky than sour, showing clear signs of brettanomyces action. Smonk by Struise was probably the loudest example of this: masses of earthy, woody, organic flavours but lightened nicely by some cherry and smoke, all wrapped up in a 7% ABV red-brown package. Upping the strength and enhancing the hops, there was Laugar's Laino Basatia at 9% ABV where the barnyard brett sits next to resiny hops and there's lots of lovely incense spicing and fresh herbs. Mikkeller's It's Alive appears to be based on a fairly straightforward honey-coloured brett ale but the edition I tried was aged with mangoes in a chardonnay barrel which added a lovely fresh grape juiciness to the horseblanket funk.
A couple of beers seemed to be going after the Flemish red flavour profile: one my favourites. Alvinne's Foederbier is a cheery bright orange, though cloudy with no head to speak of. It's mildly tart with some red berries and just a kiss of old oak. Very drinkable and refreshing. De Molen upped the ante, as is their wont, with Zure Kersen Bom (above left), a 6.2% ABV blood red beer featuring sharp, jangling wood and vinegar, weighted with balsamic resin. It sounds severe but there's also a vast quantity of very sweet ripe cherries added for balance and adding a wonderful complexity.
That brings us to the end of the sour set. We'll have something more orthodox tomorrow.
Westmalle Dubbel - *Origin: Belgium | Date: 2008 | ABV: 7% | On The Beer Nut: October 2007* It's a longtime favourite today. Westmalle Dubbel goes back to the very beginnings...
1 week ago