26 October 2016

Sour Brits

The fashion for sour beers continues apace, and is mostly to the good, in my opinion. Today I'm looking at one each from two English breweries who have produced some of my favourite British beers of recent years. Big things are expected.

I had gone into L. Mulligan Grocer looking for something else but when it wasn't available I picked Buxton's Trolltunga instead. They've brewed this in collaboration with Norwegian brewers Lervig and have badged it as a sour IPA, with added gooseberries for good measure and a powerful 6.3% ABV. That all sounds very complex but the reality was rather simpler. It's very pale, for starters: the wan yellow of a Berliner weisse rather than an IPA. The sourness is right up front as a lovely tangy bite with just a hint of sweeter gooseberry candy. The hops are the element which lose out in the combination, and I definitely wouldn't have described this as an IPA. Just right on the finish there's a slightly spicy lemon curd flavour and I'm wondering if that might be the hops at work. They're not grafting very hard if so.

I really enjoyed this. Above all it's clean and assertively sour with enough complexity to keep it interesting but not distract from its essential nature. It tastes nothing like as strong as it is so perhaps a note of caution should be sounded there.

The other beer is even more convoluted. Siren's Tschüss is a Berliner weisse but they've added lime, orange, blueberries and mint: not a combination I've met before. Located on tap in Alfie Byrne's, it's 5% ABV and a dark orange-amber colour. Blueberries can have a tendency to hide in a flavour profile but this wears them right up front in the aroma for a beer that smells incredibly tempting, like a moist blueberry muffin. In the flavour it's the mint that takes over: an eye-watering menthol sharpness plus a kind of pea-skin greenness. Once again something has to give and this time it's the orange and lime which seem to have disappeared completely, and the sourness is quite muted as well. It is still quite refreshing, however. The Berliner bugs have chomped through the malt nicely and left next to no residual sugars.

Tschüss is an interesting experiment. I wouldn't say the different elements gel together particularly well, but they work as individuals creating something that definitely holds the drinker's attention. A bit more sourness would have been nice, however.

And my expectations? Yes, they've been met. I'm looking forward to more sour oddities from both of these breweries.

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