Wild Beer Co: Squashed Grape (England: Fruit Sour Ale: 5% ABV)
Visual: Strawberry red – small white head on first careful pour, but gains a large reddened head on the final pour. The main body is cloudy.
Nose: Musty. Gooseberry and sour yellow raspberry. Musky white wine. Strawberry. Rubber. Egg notes. Orange.
Body: Tart, acidic at the back of the throat. Mandarin orange. Apples. Strawberry. White wine. Red grapes. Tart raspberry. Peach. Grapefruit.
Finish: Sprizty white wine. Sharp lemon. Light wood. Orange. Tayberry.
Conclusion: Ok, as is pretty much to be expected, this is pretty wine like, though with an acidity level that reminds me of Rodenbach Grand Cru, which makes it a thing out on its own. What I find odd is that, despite its colour, it reminds me more of white wine than red. It is dry in the finish and main character in that white wine way. Despite that there is a mix of red grapes and strawberry, however they are not delivered in a way that makes me think of red wine.
It takes a bit of time to open up, early on the acidity overrides everything. As it softens it reminds me of the strawberry sour beers that people seem to often fail when they try to make, but here actually working, and made without strawberries. Maybe that is where everyone else is going wrong, actually using the fruit. Go figure.
It is a weird contradiction this beer.
It is pleasant but a tad expensive for just pleasant – it has some of the harsh edge of the grand cru, but while it has a lot of fruit flavours it doesn’t match the sheer shimmering complexity of that beer.
It is pleasant and actually gentle underneath the harshness, with an almost peach melba character matched by grapefruit. Somehow the over harsh and very smooth seem to swap places every now and then just to mess with you.
Most of the complexity it gains is from as it warms – you get tart berries converting into fresh orange and the acidity reduces to more manageable levels. Despite my retained enthusiasm in the notes this is a good beer and an unusual one. However as it is a tad costly I feel the need to hold it to equally increased standards.
It isn’t like much else out there – very much many different tart fruit juices infused with wine character. It is softer than most fruit lambics which is the closest comparison, and yet with a more blatant Rodenbach style tartness. So, only good and not great, but definitely stands out and stands on its own two feet. As something unusual it is interesting in itself, but not quite worth the cost of it.
Background: Ok, Wild Beer Co have done some odd beers over the past years, but this is still a surprise. Made with Grape Must, which is packed with the yeast normally used for wine, this was mixed with their base beer to create this beer wine hybrid thing. Drunk while listening to my Bad Religion selection on random – hey, its nearly Christmas, so why not? This was picked up at Independent Spirit, my ever reliable Wild Beer provider.