20 December 2017

Bad sugar

Don't Gose Towards The Light! is possibly the most egregious example of that commonplace non-pun for gose names that I've encountered. It's used by To-Øl as the title of this one from their range, which they describe as a "black gose" though on pouring it's much more a purple colour than black, with a pink tint to the head. The colour is presumably a result of the inclusion of blackcurrants. I don't know if any actual dark malt has been used, but I suspect there's at least crystal because the first taste is sweeet. There's a shocking caramel and chocolate flavour, of the sort you might find in a thick brown ale, and which is definitely not gose-appropriate. The more customary light tartness sits next to it, sulking.

There's definitely a well-made gose at the base of this but it feels to me like it has been ruined by the inclusion of that thick sweetness. I'm surprised they were able to keep the ABV as low as 3.5%. The blackcurrant is detectable too, its own tartness almost drowned out by the beer's native sour flavour but the fruit element lingers on in the finish.

With a bit of roasted crispness, this recipe might have worked. I've no objection to black gose or fruited gose, or a combination, in principle or practice. But this is a disaster.

I'd barely recovered from the shakes when To-Øl's Nutcracker was put in front of me at UnderDog. This is an imperial stout with added hazelnuts; 11.9% ABV and incorporating a cornucopia of dark and smoked malts plus Simcoe hops. What that gave me, first of all, was perfume, which is not something one expects from an imperial stout. The aroma is incredibly flowery, the fabric softener borne upward on a sugary calorific draft.

Upon tasting it, the meadow takes a moment to reassert itself. The first flavour is the promised hazelnut, and there's coffee too, but set on a thick and sweetly cloying body, like a particularly boozy and unbalanced tiramisu. And then there's an attack of extra-cloying lavender bringing the flowers. Normally I enjoy that bit of purple in thick dark beers, but here the whole thing is just too sweet and busy to begin with. Even a small TeKu's worth is too much.

Remember when gose was sour and imperial stout was bitter? Happier times.