22 December 2017

American sour story

Two American sour beers today. Well, sour-ish. Neither seems to be going all-out for the pucker, both being from sane and established breweries with European capital helping them do their thing.

Dark Swan from Lagunitas is first. It's purple, so presumably there's some fruit addition but there's no mention of that on the label. Between-sentence research reveals it to be grapes. Sounds good. The result is rather plain, however. There's a grainy twang to the sourness, like in a classic Berliner weisse. The fruit is barely apparent in the taste, coming through as a mild blackcurrant jam flavour, suggesting grape concentrate rather than ripe fruit. It was all a rather simple and quite enjoyable affair until I noticed, in the small print, that it's a thoroughly unreasonable 8.5% ABV. If you want to go to Falling Down Town quickly, this beer will get you there faster than any yet devised: it really tastes like a sub-4% 2D quaffer. I kept having to remind myself that it's not. It's easy-going, fine and unexciting. Just be careful.

Round two is Founders, and Green Zebra, a gose with, for some reason, watermelon. It doesn't really work. The base beer is lovely: clear gold, gently sparkling, with a fresh and cleansing saltiness. But then there's this awful layer of sickly artificial cough sweets plastered over the top. No surprises with the strength this time as it's a sensible 4.6% ABV. It's still a very poor effort, though: spoiled by the lazy addition of a flavouring it really did not need. Just a regular black and white zebra for me next, please.

Good American sour fruit beer seems hard come by. The big accessible  breweries don't seem to have quite got the hang of it yet.

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