Thornbridge: Days of Creation (England: Sour Ale: 7% ABV)
Visual: Deep caramel brown to red. Thin burgundy to white bubbled head.
Nose: Red wine. Big juicy red grapes and dry white grapes. Tangerine. Mild sulphur. Wet wood. Cake sponge. Nettles. Cherries. Grapefruit juice.
Body: Raspberries. White tart grapes. Juicy red grapes. Brown sticky gummed envelopes. Strawberry. Dry white wine. Acidic at back of the throat. Tart pineapple juice.
Finish: Cherries, strawberries and raspberry. Cherry-aid. Dry white wine. Lightly tart. Tangerines and mandarin orange. Gummed brown envelopes. Cider. Pineapple. Tropical fruit tins.
Conclusion: Ok, I was expecting this to be ok, but nowhere near its rep. Thornbidge do solid beers, but it has been a while since one of them really shook my world. I nearly didn’t buy this due to that, and its high cost.
Frickin’ love this beer. Tart without being harsh, with the only real acidic showing being as it hits the back of your throat. It shows that traditional slight gummy brown envelope red ale base, but with a bursting level of fruitiness – not just raspberry but a whole range of red fruit and orange variants amongst them. It really nails the easy drinking tartness level, making it refreshing while still distinctly showing the beer characteristics that separates it from just seeming like an alcoholic fruit drunk, then leads out into a tropical fruit finish.
It is delightfully full, smooth, and, while I’m sure it benefited from the wine barrel ageing, it is too well integrated to say where the beer ends and the ageing begins. That is a compliment by the way. The beer moves from what feels like fruity hop character, to booming kind of Flemish red sourness, to dry wine complexity, to raspberry fruitiness, and never lets an element dominate or even stand in a way where it is not intertwined with at least two other characteristics.
It can be drunk easily to refresh you, it can be sipped slowly to be appreciated. It is welcome at first taste, or after it has built up over the entire beer. This is probably one of the best UK sours I have ever had, and in fact, while it is different – smoother and fruitier, emphasising different notes – it still stands up amazing well against the best Belgian red sour beers.
I take my hand off to it*, it is bloody lovely.
Background: Ok, this is a sour red ale, aged in red burgundy barrels with raspberries, and also the silver medal winner for wood and barrel ages sour beers at the world beer cup 2016. I have to admit I tend to be a bit sceptical on awards, I have seen so many beers I don’t rate or find good but not great, win big awards. There is such a difference in peoples tastes that is to be expected though. Grabbed from Independent Spirit, at the same time as its sister beer “Love Among The Ruins”. Drunk while listening to the excellent electro-metal mashup Crossfaith again. Awesome energy live band.
* this is not a typo, only an in joke that about three people will get.