You're not a proper craft brewer unless you do one-off beers in a sequence of related recipes or themes. Two such are the subject of today's post.
Simcoe SMASH is the fourth and allegedly final in Trouble Brewing's series of single-malt, single-hop pale ales and had been out a while before I chanced upon it one evening in 57 The Headline. Like its predecessors it's a nicely sessionable 4.8% ABV and this time the malt is Propino, the first of the series to utilise Irish grain. But the malt doesn't contribute very much to it: the colour is very pale, though beautifully clear. There's a gentle lemon sherbet aroma at first, turning to richer sweet stonefruit once the beer has warmed up a little. The first sip reveals an intensely sharp lemon tart bitterness with a strong perfume aftertaste. I'll be honest: it's not what I expected from Simcoe -- no heavy dank or resinous funk -- but I think it's a better beer for that, loud and rudely bitter, but great fun to drink.
Over at Galway Bay, meanwhile, they've brewed a sequel to their collaboration with Chicago's Begyle, Goodbye Blue Monday. But while that was a hefty IPA (and a rather good one at that), Maybe Next Monday is a dry-hopped low-strength sour beer. €6.75 a pint was the asking price and, haha, obviously I'm not paying that, so settled for a €3.90 33cl serving. The sour bits and the hoppy bits both come on very strong and obvious in this, with an end result that tastes like a soured fruit cocktail. There's an unpleasant, out-of-character, stickiness to the whole thing which, allied with the hops, makes it taste like Um Bongo or similar children's tropical juice drink, with an added lactic tang and then an oxidised cardboard twang on the end. Barry, sitting next to me, nailed the yoghurt-and-fruit effect as like a peach-flavoured Petits Filous. This is a very silly beer, and might make for a fun novelty if it wasn't for the po-faced pricetag. It definitely shouldn't command the same sort of money as a properly-made lambic.
I'll miss the Trouble SMASH series, it was a great idea and yielded some excellent results. And the growth of nouveau-sour in Ireland and abroad? I look forward to that getting better. The next one from Galway Bay, Godspeed, arrives in their pubs today.
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