I'll never be one of those trend-chasing fanboy beer geeks, lauding what ever it is the rock stars of the brewing world have decided was a good idea to do to beer that week. But I'm far from being a beer curmudgeon either, insisting that the zymurgist's art achieved perfection in 1860 and any subsequent innovations are retrograde. I'm an à la carte beer fan: I'll try everything and decide if it's any good or not on its own merits and nothing else.
Which brings me to soured pale ales. I'm in favour. I never expected that the tropical fruit flavours of new world hops would blend so well into tangy and lactic sour ale, but they do, and fairly consistently. And there are a lot of dials for the brewer to fiddle with: the sourness, the hoppiness, the density and so on. So I was particularly drawn to To Øl's Sur Amarillo when I saw it on the blackboard at The Beer Market a few months ago. It seems a bit of a powerhouse at 7.5% ABV and not a cheap one either at €6.25 for a 33cl glass. As the name might suggest it's part of a series of single-hopped sour beers from the Danish contractor.
It's a hazy orange colour and smells strange, in a good way: cedar spice and sharp pomegranate. The texture is pleasantly smooth and the carbonation low, making for easy drinking, doubly so with the alcohol well disguised. Flavourwise it's an IPA before anything else. It opens on a lovely juicy note of mandarin laced with bitterer peach skin, then spins out some of that exotic intense spice I found in the aroma. A pinch of tartness finishes it off, but that plays very much a minor role, allowing the hops to take the lead. The sourness is not merely decorative either: it cools what might otherwise be an overly hot and chewy strong ale and allows the true nature of the ingredients be seen. And, in my case anyway, enjoyed.