Sunday 5 December 2010

Where there's mug...

... there's brassica. I'm a fan of sprouts. I like the way they're maligned. I enjoy their crispness. I'm happy to go along with the arduous ritual of preparing them. I can even cope when they're water-logged and overdone. 

But I'm not sure even I would mix them with lager. And from the first few glugs of this latest beer - disconcertingly called Mug - it appears that's just what the Scheldebrouwerij has done.

I've been down the road of this brewery's beer before (scroll down). That was a funny old stick too. Its label was somewhat bizarre and there's no change with this one as well. a balding, bearded gentleman of the road in bed wakes up to find a caveman who looks suspiciously like a 70s era Gerry Adams wielding a large club.

So it's little wonder the beer itself is something of an enigma. For all the world, it looks and smells like an off lager, which hasn't got me remotely excited. In fact, I'm beginning to feel like I've been taken for a mug, quite literally. The label claims this beer is special in some way, but I'm not getting that from the look and feel of it.

But as they say in Belgium, il n'y a qu'une fa├žon de savoir. Or rather, er is maar een manier om uit te vinden. Or maybe both where they brew this stuff.

Beer: Scheldebrouwerij Mug
Country: Belgium
Strength: A reassuring 5%, perfect for a Sunday evening
Colour: Worryingly lager-coloured. Looks like a drop of the amber nectar.
Smell: Vinegar at first, although that dissipates fairly quickly. It does have the fearful reek of posh lager and boiled sprouts, though. And that's off-putting.
Circumstance: The hour of 'the fear' has arrived and I've just eaten a bean casserole with some of Dave's Insanity Ghost Pepper Sauce in it. So perhaps not the ideal preparation for savouring the subtle nuances of beer.
Tasting notes: What a cunning deceiver the nose can be. What the aroma called as an unexceptional Duvel-style amber ale, the tongue corrects. Gently, but firmly and with the quiet admonishment of a doting nursemaid. Oh no, Master Calendar, this is a natural, unfiltered, unpasturised beer, delivering refreshing hoppiness and rounded, near sculpted flavours that delight. But is it lager? Does that matter? It's definitely more interesting than most I've tried, but that slightly tinny finish still feels like my tongue's been shat on by a small, metallic dung beetle.
Drinkability: Rather easy. It's flavoursome and just about complex enough to encourage further investigation.
Gut reaction: Fine, but beware the effects of the sediment that's made the remainder of the drink opaque.
Session factor: At 5%, you could have a few if you like, but I'm not sure I'd really want to. I've nothing against it, but it's just not quite interesting enough to make me want another. Might work better with curry or in hotter weather.
Arbitrary score: 5.4

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