22 June 2016

Feel the passion

An addendum to Monday's post on the 2016 Killarney Beer Festival. Once the winners were all finalised in the competition, the leftover bottles were farmed out to the judges by able chief steward Kellie. From among them I got a bottle of Castaway, YellowBelly's collaboration with Dublin's Hope Brewing and sour beer aficionado Shane Smith, for it is a sour beer we're dealing with.

I mentioned YellowBelly's superb passionfruit lager on Monday and they must have got a job lot of passionfruit because here's more of it. I found it to be little more than a flash at the beginning, a welcoming smile of friendly fleshy fruit before the daggers come out. For the most part, and increasingly as it warms, this is intensely sour. A sharp rhubarb acidity strips the teeth and pinches the jaw. More problematically, perhaps, it smells old and mouldy, not quite like the clean dry brick cellars of a Belgian gueuze, but earthier. The finish is bracingly quick though I detected a mild waft of phenolic disinfectant.

It's an ambitious beer, I'll give it that. It doesn't want to play around or treat you with kid gloves. Unless you drink it cold it's cruel and uncompromising and you have to be prepared for it. Me, I think it could do with a few of the corners being knocked off it: a bit more nuance and subtlety. Perhaps that will come with time.

As far as Irish sour beers which you can buy in the off licence go, this is up a level from most of what has gone before.

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