25 October 2017

One busy beaver

Part two of my look at the Beavertown Extravaganza which happened in London last month. I mentioned on Monday that the festival was spread over three-and-a-bit halls. The "bit" was a darkened corridor space which was dedicated to the Rainbow Project. This is a series of seven collaborative beers produced at UK breweries with input from foreign ones, a bit like that thing JD Wetherspoon does a couple of times a year, but far more expensive.

They had only just been released so obviously there was a queue. I took the time to try two of them. First up, in the "Red" slot, Amanecer Mexicano by Magic Rock and Casita Cervecería of Vermont. This is a gose with added chilli, lime and lots of other traditional mole ingredients. It's a clear bright red colour and tastes soft and sweet, with a kind of cherry sherbet flavour. The tartness helps prevent it tasting too much like candy, and this builds as it goes along. Despite the multiplicity of additions it remains clean, refreshing and easy drinking, even if the ABV seems a little high at 5.8%. I wasn't wowed but did find it quite enjoyable.

There was a bit of a buzz around the "Green" beer as well: Mojito by Hawkshead and Modern Times. Described as a "tart IPA", it's a sickly yellow colour and tastes almost exclusively of mint. Mojitos have their place, but this had far too much mojito and not nearly enough beer. There was barely any sourness and absolutely no discernible hop flavour. It's a very disappointing novelty, and probably what I deserve for listening to the hype. Both breweries usually turn out great beers too.

Doing something vaguely similar but much better was Wylam with Bliss 322k, a white IPA. There's a lovely juicy lemony aroma from this greenish-yellow job, and the flavour pushes forward coriander first and then a light and refreshing bitterness. This is tasty and fun, and also surprisingly easy going despite being 6.8% ABV. The best feature is something entirely missing: an absence of the soapiness that so often plagues the style.

The other English brewery playing with fruit and sourness was Thornbridge, pouring Abacaxi when I dropped by their bar. It's a sour beer at 6% ABV with pineapple and, like the Mojito, is dominated by the non-beery addition. There's a very mild tartness but really it just tastes of pineapple juice and almost nothing else. That's a little more forgivable when the brewery isn't calling it an IPA, perhaps, but I still couldn't see the point of it.

The last English beers before moving on to what the rest of the world had to offer were from Bristol's Lost & Grounded, a new brewery that has been generating a lot of positive feedback but which had not hitherto crossed my path. Another round of punishment from the hype machine? Kind of, yes. Ciel Rouge is a red rye ale with American hops, produced in collaboration with Burning Sky. Unfortunately, the billed Amarillo and Chinook are nowhere to be found in the finished article and instead it's heavy, savoury and resinous with a musty, dusty, stale quality. I couldn't figure out what this was trying to be, only that I didn't enjoy it.