22 June 2018

Wild things

The latest UK brewery to join Carlow Brewing's import portfolio is Wild Beer. The event was commemorated with a tap takeover and tasting at 57 The Headline in May. It afforded me the opportunity to catch up with a several Wild offerings I hadn't previously taken the time to try.

Wildebeeste imperial stout was in everyone's hands when I arrived and, fearing it was going to run out, I started on that. It's an 11% ABV job, with added coffee, chocolate and vanilla. I found the additions made it taste a little powdery, but that's a minor bug, and there's plenty going on in its favour. I was surprised by a warming and fruity red wine note, plus the floral sweetness of Turkish delight and cherries, finishing on a tobacco-like bitterness. All of it holds together well with none of the contrasting elements throwing it off balance. A great start.

Next up was Tepache, a Brettanomyces-fermented beer with pineapple and spices. There's a definite Orval funk to the aroma while the flavour is cleanly sour and sharp. The fruit comes through in a savoury, roasted, sort of way, rather than as sweetness or juice, and there's an additional bonus lychee and peach flavour, though that's as likely to be from the yeast as the pineapple. This is another complex and well-balanced offering.

Things take a bit of a silly turn next, with Rhubarber, an attempt at instilling rhubarb and custard qualities into beer. It's 6% ABV and a murky yellow, so at least it looks like custard. The flavour has lots of vanilla with only the faintest tang of rhubarb. They added ginger as well, which lends a ginger ale mixer note: the dry flavour without any actual spice. Overall it's an interesting beer, mixing the heavy and creamy side with tart refreshment. It's nowhere near as complex as the other two, however, and while enjoyable does come across as gimmicky.

Sleeping Lemons Export, apparently. It's a gose, and another 6%-er. There's a decent level of sourness, but the dominant flavour is the dry and crisp wheat. Despite the strength it's a bit watery, and my notes don't even mention any lemon flavour, but I guess there must have been some. This one is a little vapid, which makes me curious about the non-export 3.6% ABV version.

The inevitable fruity pale is called Pogo, and is brewed with passionfruit, orange and guava. It's another thin affair, though that's more excusable at 4% ABV. The fruit makes it taste like a lemon and lime soft drink, with a sugar hit at the front, then tailing off more dryly. It's simple and refreshing, reminding me more of lager than a pale ale, and certainly lacking in hop character. The absence of syrupy fruit stickiness is to be lauded, however, and I can see it working as an unchallenging by-the-pint sessioner.

I finished the night on Nebula, Wild Beer's take on New England IPA, or possibly just pale ale as it's only 5% ABV. Yellow and murky: check. Poor head retention: check. Creamy texture: check. Diesel heat: check. Onion and garlic flavour: check and check. Yep, they've pretty much nailed the style and what people expect of it. If you like your New Englands perfunctory, hit this one up.

That was it for the evening, and thanks to Wild, Carlow and The Headline. I did also encounter another Wild beer in UnderDog not long beforehand. This was Jambo, a raspberry imperial stout. It's one of those instances where the name affects the flavour, because this immediately tasted jammy to me: concentrated berries with a mild tartness on the end. There's a dusting of light milk chocolate on top of this, and that's pretty much it. This is simpler and more elegant than most any fruited imperial stout I've tried, and tastes nothing like the 8.5% ABV it is.

Wild Beer has a prodigiously huge range of highly varied beers, so I look forward to seeing more of them landing in the months to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment