Northern Monks: Patron’s Project 11.01: Rhubarb Sour: Made In The Dark (England: Sour Ale: 6% ABV)

Visual: Reddened apricot. Cloudy. Large off white and slightly yellowed head.

Nose: Dry and tart. Turmeric and tannins. Dry rhubarb. Cooking apples. Strawberry.

Body:
Without Popping Candy: Gentle rhubarb tartness. Red Grapes. Hop Oils. Light vinegar notes. Plum. Strawberry. Turmeric.

With Popping Candy: Similar but with popping feel in your mouth. Rhubarb and custard sweets. Raspberry hard sweets. Oilier and thicker. Lightly creamy.

Finish:

Without Popping Candy: Apples. Rhubarb. Tart sheen and lightly oily. Brown bread. Plums. Earthy notes. Lightly creamy.

With Popping Candy: Sweeter. Blackpool rock. Strawberry.

Conclusion: Initially I though that the popping candy I got with this was defective. You see I put it on my tongue aaand .. nothing happened. So then I took a sip of the beer to go over it. Nothing happened. I then took a larger mouthful and held the beer in my mouth and … nothing happened. Then finally the little fuckers started popping. If you are wondering why I am eating sweets and drinking, well, I kind of explain in the background. Kind of. As much as it can be explained.

Anyway, I am getting ahead of myself here. So, they recommended trying the beer with the provided popping sweets, which I eventually did, but I decided first to do some sips au naturel and compare the beer from before and after. Because that is the kind of rebel I am.

As a stand-alone beer it is a solid enough sour. The rhubarb is there, there is a decent thickness, but not so much it gets sticky. It shows both the tart and earthy side of the rhubarb, along with some darker fruit notes and a nice oily hop sheen.

So how is it with the popping candy? Well the first thing I noticed is that by itself the sweets seemed to have a slight rhubarb character of its own. The second thing is that it kept sticking to the bloody roof of my mouth in a lump. Anyway, once I started drinking I noticed it seemed a little thicker – I don’t know if that is just I am holding it longer, but it definitely felt thicker, creamier and heavier.

Apart from that it seemed very much the same beer – there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference apart from the performative aspect – which I think is the whole point of the beer. The drinking ritual it creates is fun – especially when the sweets finally start popping and you enjoy the drink amidst the feeling of impacts in your mouth. However, for all it is fun, I don’t think the beer is overly enhanced by it.

Then again, the base beer is pretty decent by itself. Probably The best of the rhubarb sours I have encountered. There is good rhubarb character, good hop oil thickness and good plum backing and nicely tart and earthy as previously said. I actually would be interested to see what happens if they ditch the sweets touch and just concentrate on re-brewing this a bit bigger and thicker as I think that could be an excellent beer.

Background: Ok, this is one of the odder beers I have done notes on. In fact that was pretty much why I grabbed it – it is a sour beer made with forced rhubarb, which sounds up my alley enough. It also contains a small packet of popping candy, tucked away in the beer’s base, to eat while drinking it, which is another level strange. Hence why I have two sets of notes above. I decided to first try the beer just as is, then add in the popping candy and see how it changed things. If you peal back the label you find underneath a guide to tasting this – which is in the dark, lit by a single candle, put candy in your mouth then take a sip. Now, I cannot be trusted near naked flame when drunk, so I did the closest I could. I tuned off the lights and lit the from only by the shine of my VDU, with the Fire Watch desktop background glowing out. Similar enough, right? Anyway, all this theatrics seems to come as this beer is a collaboration with Lord Whitney – so yeah, that explains a lot. To add to the mood I put on Ulver – Shadows Of The Sun to listen to. Still the most genuinely beautiful album I have heard.

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