27 June 2018

Indie and Urban

Indie Beer Week continues with a return visit to hyperactive Dublin brewpub Urban Brewing to see what strange novelties they have for me this time.

There's a rosé theme to the off-kilter offerings, beginning with Pink Peppercorn Weisse, and this one's not even that off-kilter. It's an easy-going 5% ABV and a sunny witbier yellow colour. The banana aroma brings us straight to Bavaria, however. Banana continues in the flavour, except after a second or two there's a sudden jolt of spices. It's not out of keeping with how some weissbier yeasts add clove and nutmeg notes, though the pronounced sharpness tells me it's really down to the peppercorns. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the two elements complement each other -- peppercorns and weissbier is not a combination I thought would work. The whole thing makes for a decently refreshing summer weisse, still wholesome and classic despite the twist.

That was followed by Hibiscus Wheat, and this one was at least glaringly pink coloured. The ABV goes up to 5.5% and the weissbier character remains: clove spicing and lighter banana this time. A light cherry candy character is all the hibiscus contributes to the flavour and the end result is quite a plain tasting effort with the bright plumage its most interesting feature.

A plain old dubbel next, titled Belgian Forest. Except this one leaves the style's norms far behind. It's only 5.5% ABV, for one thing, and a murky orange rather than rich brown; the colour of a long-abandoned cup of milky tea. Caramel makes up the aroma, while the flavour offers an odd mix of apple, damson and mixed berries. It tastes purple. That, along with the name, suggests that there has been a fruit addition, but I saw no indication of that written anywhere. I deem this one confusing but not unpleasant. The various flavours would work if it were bigger, darker and more serious. Y'know, like a dubbel.

Last up, the unexcitingly named Barrel Aged Sour. Oh, except there's another surprise in store here: it's very exciting. It took a while to get to as it was on a portable tap behind the counter (quite possibly still is) and a gas tank had to be located and hooked up to it. I understand some other punters weren't afforded the same level of service later that weekend. It poured a medium orange colour, exuding a sweet and spicy aroma. The flavour brings the oak first -- winey cork and smooth vanillins -- before settling into sumptuous and juicy peach and grape. It's all very soft and sweet, with a charming funked-up maturity. Not sour, not sharp nor crisp; it's calm and refined, like a cool Fino sherry. The complexity and poise here are first rate and I really hope it's merely the first in a long line of expertly aged beers from the basement barrelstore.

Another day and another brewery to catch up on tomorrow.

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