Friday 4 December 2015

Cometh the sour

Marmite moment: a beer you either
love or hate. Or just quite like
In a move sure to disappoint the regulars, today has been an absolute delight. And this despite the 6am start, the now regular tardiness of the morning train and a fairly arduous drive to the south coast.

Whether it’s the fact my new boots arrived this morning (well, I had to go to the local delivery office, but still), the people of Oldham firmly flipped two fingers up to the racist overtures of that flagrant fear-monger Farage or the fact I’ve nailed at least 50 per cent of my Christmas shopping already and it’s only early December, I don’t know. But I’ve been around the block enough to know I need to surf this wave of positivity while it lasts.

This year has been such a genuine curate’s egg of a year I don’t know what to make of it. But maybe that’s the point – don’t make anything of it. Just be and enjoy the good bits.

Navel-gazing done for the day; now for the beer. In keeping with the year’s seeming theme, Wild Beer are a bit of a mixed bag of a brewery. And I mean that in a good way. Some of their output is sublime, while some leaves me a bit nonplussed. But that’s precisely what you’d expect from such an experimental outfit. If I liked them all, it would be a bit weird.

Today’s is a case in point. I think it’s fantastic, but then I’m a huge fan of sour beers. I love the way they catch you unawares. I love the way the sharpness seems to jump-start your tastebuds, jolting them awake upon contact. In fact, the whole experience is a wake-up call, from the first pop of the bottle top through the Champagne-like sound of its bubbles as you pour to the rasping effervescence that still tingles on your tongue as the flavour fades away. A real alarm clock of a beer.

Others I know can’t stand this style, though. I’ve witnessed friends’ faces grimace in sheer disgust as they physically recoil after one small sip, reaching for anything they can lay their hands on to assuage the astringent pain burnt acid-like on to their palates. The weirdos.

Anyway, I first tasted this elixir of the gods at the Independent Manchester Beer Convention – easily the land’s best beer festival – in October 2014. An instant hit; I could have stayed with it all night (though obviously I didn’t). Sadly I wasn’t to have another till Monday night, when I was interviewed by the Beer O’Clock Show, who kindly sponsored today’s calendar entry.

So a small confession – I’ve already had the beer. It wasn’t even in December. Thankfully, I felt guilty enough to have to go out and buy another (from the very excellent Hop, Burns and Black store in ‘upmarket’ Peckham). Disaster averted. Things are looking up.

Beer: Wild Beer Sourdough
Strength: A pretty weedy 3.6%
Smell: Robinson's Lemon Barley Water mixed with Merrydown Cider.
Tasting notes: Bowling out of the bottle like a dose of Alka-Seltzer on steroids, it marches straight up to the spot on your tongue marked 'sour', leans purposefully on the bar, calls 'shop' to attract the barman and orders five pints at a time, which it then proceeds to down, in one, one after the other, methodically, taking the same length of time for each and at perfectly timed regular intervals. It's only been in five minutes and already it's a regular. Quite frankly, it ain't shifting for anyone. But then without warning, it just turns on its heels and slings its hook. Gone. A complete whirlwind. The beer equivalent of Lord Flashheart in Blackadder Two. High impact; not going to stick around too long. Terrific stuff.
Session factor: Higher than an ace, you say? Yes I do.
Arbitrary score: 121,504

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