Wild Beer Co Redwood 2014

Wild Beer Co: Redwood 2014 (England: Sour Ale: 5.8% ABV)

Visual: Very dark clear red. Small off white bubbled head.

Nose; Vinous. Black cherry and sour grapes. Red wine soaked raisins. Cider. Musket grapes (maybe, not an expert on them). Light pepper. Strawberry. Malt choc orange. Wet wood. Toffee.

Body: Tart. Wood. Sour cherries. Cider. Acid burn on swallow. Charring. Tannins. Black cherry. Strawberry. Light toffee sweetness. Gummed brown envelopes.

Finish: Cider. Wet oak and bitterness. Tannins. Sharp lemon. Drying. Red berries.

Conclusion: Ah, Wild Beer Co, one brewery, trying, by itself, to make up for the paucity of sour beers in most ( though not all) of the rest of the UK beer scene.

A one brewery war on taste buds.

This is quite a tart one, tasting – as its base – half way between Belgian sour brown ales and cider. No, no don’t run away yet. I mean that in a good way!

It is sharp, and with an acidic burn at the back, so it does have a slightly higher barrier to entry than usual. The aroma promises something different – a hugely complex and vinous beer with that ever shifting range of aroma targets that you get with sour beers. The body itself doesn’t quite follow the aroma.

It is more grounded for one, the aroma tantalises with lighter fruit notes and a more evident wine influence, the body instead delivers a more oaken style, and more tannins influenced wine. Though you do get a lot of red fruits in both, mainly variants on cherry, but also into tart red berries that are especially evident in the finish as well. It is an element that grows with warmth, giving the beer a more robust flavour over time.

The fruit never does become fully face front in the beer, the base character of the sour red is strong – well, often very sour brown as well, but the red fruit is more laced through as additions rather than the main event. It is offset with some soft toffee elements as well – You get the feeling a lot of effort went into balancing this beer.

What is unexpected is how much like a geuze lambic this can seem, especially as it warms – I mean, there is always some crossover with sour beers, but with the tannins and the dryness there is definitely a dry geuze feel behind the fruit.

Overall it is a solid sour, with a huge range of style influences – a bit too grounded for me, it seems to play more to the tannin, oak and other dry elements than I prefer – it makes it a bit too closed for me. However, despite that it is still a solid beer, with a good bite.

Background: Wild Beer Co! Who continue to turn out many sour beers and saisons, this one a sour red ale made with berries (Sloes, Black berries, elderberries, damsons, rosehip, et al) and aged in a mix of barrels (Scotch Whisky, Burgundy and Modus Operandi). All in all enough to get me excited. Drunk while listening to a mix of Against Me! tracks in memory of their gig a few days before. It was awesome. This beer was picked up from the ever awesome Independent Spirit.