29 June 2018

Late to the party

This is day eight of Indie Beer Week 2018 and I'm rounding off my series of posts with the beers I discovered during the week itself.

I'm picking things up where I left them yesterday with Praetorian, new from YellowBelly and as far as I know exclusive to its beer club subscribers. "Polaris hopped blueberry weizen" is the unlikely style statement, and it's 5% ABV. It looks like a smoothie, pouring a murky dark purple hue, without a proper weissbier head. There's not much aroma, while the flavour is odd and perfumed: a mix of miscellaneous spices and non-specific fruit. There's a sharpness which could be attributed to the berries, but nothing that really says blueberry flavour. On the other side it's a weissbier by texture for sure, but that's it. I get the Polaris, though: a sharp herbal mint. So one out of three. For all the wowee craft innovation it's quite a plain beer, a lot less interesting than any standard weizen you care to name.

That backed up my notion that weissbier isn't one of the traditional styles amenable to craft hacking, a prejudice which was further confirmed by Lemondrop, just released by Carrig Brewing. The hacking is apparently no more than dry hopping with the titular hop and Denali, but my pint arrived clear and gold in a straight-sided glass, the attempt at a big weiss head making it look like an underfilled pint of lager. The mere 4.6% ABV is further evidence of inauthenticity, but it really kicks in from the aroma: sweet and sticky like a lemon meringue pie. The flavour is pretty much the same, adding a touch of banana foam sweets. The whole thing is weird and artificial. Contrived; and bound to upset any Germans who come to Bar Rua looking for a weissbier. This experiment didn't work out.

Staying in that pub, owner Carrig's other new guy was Basil Blast, a gold-coloured Centennial and Simcoe pale ale of 5.5% ABV, with a purported large helping of basil in the whirlpool. There's definitely something other than the usual in here, but I'd swear it was ginger: that slightly woody, chewy, spice you tend to get from real fresh ginger. It certainly shouts over the hopping, and I am assured that no ginger was involved in the recipe. There is a slight herbal tang on the tail, but it's not the oily green richness of real basil. A dry and tannic finish complements the spicing. This is definitely a refreshing beer, and was much appreciated on a warm sunny afternoon; it's just a little confusing.

Around the corner, last Friday, Stephen Street News hosted the third beer release from Liam, aka Dead Centre Brewing: Seeking Sunshine IPA. He kindly donated a can for me to bring home where I drank it in the last rays of Sunday's sun. It's 5% ABV and brewed with Citra and Amarillo, pouring a pale yellow shade with little head. The aroma is quite dank and funky, though with a little bit of juice thrown in. Its flavour, then, is disappointingly savoury, piling in the caraway taste I associate most with Mosaic-gone-awry. There is a faint juiciness as well on the very end, a tantalising echo of mandarin, hinting at what this could have been without all the honking caraway. The texture is nicely full thanks to the oats in the grist, and the carbonation is low enough to make it easy drinking. It's still a passable IPA, but in need of punching up, I think.

I covered Third Barrel's goings-on on Tuesday. Their last-minute contribution to the week, in UnderDog yesterday, was Juice Bigalow. And yes: juice. Big juice. Mega juice. It opens on a giant bag of mandarins, rendered extra juicy by an effervescent sherbet quality. There's bitter kick on the end, a growing dankness, a metallic tang and... waaaait a minute: this bears a striking resemblance to Tuesday's sensation Two Yards, from the same brewery for someone else. Is it wrong of me to suspect this is a very small variation on it? Very