06 October 2017

Double dare

Five breweries and three beers in today's post: yes, it's collaboration time! Breweries doing things that they wouldn't normally dream of themselves, but when another boy dares them to, away they go.

Our first test subject was created at the Firestone Walker brewery in California with the assistance of London's Beavertown. The skeltonised heraldic animals on the can are almost too on-the-nose. The name is West Side Beavo, 6.5% ABV and based on Firestone's iconic Pivo pils but combining classic US hops with UK newcomer Jester. It's a crystalline pale gold with surprisingly little aroma. The flavour doesn't hold back though: a huge and spicy pine resin bitterness overlaid with luscious mango and guava. There's a mineral edge too, a touch of hard sulphur that brings a degree of seriousness to the otherwise quite jolly fruit-filled lager. Lots going on here, and all of it good. Well done to everyone concerned.

And obviously with Firestone Walker being very much yesterday's brewery in fashion terms, Beavertown were quick to keep in with the cool set, creating an IPA with the far-too-cool-for-the-likes-of-you New England brewer Trillium. I bought a tin of it in the supermarket.

Beaverillium is the name, giving the old portmanteau thing another try. It's a soupy looking beast, New England IPA meets London murky under a shroud of finest beige. The aroma is fantastic, though: bags of fresh dank, like walking into the hop fridge at a brewery, one of the good ones. Sadly, the fun ends abruptly there. I got a massive whack of sickly green onion right from the get-go, rendered extra severe by a thick and gritty texture which leaves the beer feeling unfinished. It sweetens after a moment in the mouth, the too-real onion turning to the cartoon pickled onions of Monster Munch or Meanies. That's kind of amusing, but it doesn't let the beer off the hook. The finish is a split decision between fried garlic and bitter lime, adding yet more noise and colour to a beer that was already quite loud enough. It's a riot of a thing: mad, brash, and piling on everything that's currently hot in the fast-moving world of ultra-hip beer. It left me wanting to try it again after it spent some time calming down in the bright tank, however.

Finally, it's Fool's Gold, a sour stout co-created by The White Hag and BRLO in Berlin. And yes, that is the dirtiest-looking glass I've ever been served a beer in. For shame, P. Mac's. This ugly dark brown headless yoke is 5% ABV and offers parallel strands of sweet creamy coffee with a neutral sour culture. The two sides don't even acknowledge, let alone complement, each other all the way through. For the most part you get a smooth easy drinking session stout and the cleansing refreshing features of a Berliner weisse, and then they part ways even further at the finish, with the stout turning dry and roasty while there's a tangy lactic finish on the sour side. It really does give the sensation of drinking two, admittedly rather good, beers at once. I think it might help if all the flavours were more pronounced, however. Subtlety is not beneficial in a quirky beer like this. Ramp it up and damn the consequences: that's the collaborative way.

Collaborations may not always result in the best quality beer, but they rarely make for boring drinking.

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