Wild Beer Co: Rooting Around: Winter (England: Vegetable/Herb/Spice: 7% ABV)

Visual: Dark brown. Massive browned head. Very lively to pour.

Nose: Malt chocolate. Choc limes. Earthy. Sweet, cloying apricot. Dessert wine. Pine cones. Orange rind. Paprika.

Body: Orange jelly sweets. Sour grapes. Cloying sweet wine. Treacle. Chives and other herbs. Mulled wine. Rye crackers. Liquorice. Cherry pocked biscuits.

Finish: Cherries. Dried apricots. Sugary sweet wine. Boiled bark. Mulled wine. Malt chocolate. Rye bread. Rock salt. Golden syrup. Palma violets.

Conclusion: Well, this is very much dedicated to the foraged elements conceit, but despite that remember to be a beer as well – a beer that is backed by a heck of a lot of vinous notes from the barrel ageing. They are trying to pack in a lot here, let’s see if it works.

The base feels closer to a dubbel than than the actual dubbel I tried recently for their 2018 Smoke N Barrels, though that isn’t saying much. By itself it feels more towards an ESB style malt character with chocolate notes coming out -however it is pepped up by rye spice notes and a liquorice element that makes it all feel more earthy and more ready to fit in with the foraged root character.

Onto that is layered the sweet, thick Sauternes wine notes that go from cloying stewed thick apricot to the sour grapes of a tarter wine, to a golden syrup like dessert wine style. It seems to have reacted here with the base beer to show off a real fruit sugar styling to the sweetness. Initially it felt intense and cloying, but soothed over time as the more grounded base worked with it.

The rooting around foraged style is actually a robust middle to this beer. It is oaken like stewed bark, matched with herbal and spicy notes. The spiciness blends nicely with the rye to create a robust, forest imagery filled, set of notes.

It is a weird beer. Lots of intense notes, lots of prickly notes, lots of elements that don’t blend in with each other, instead all struggling for dominance. However it is never dull and never bad. Not a favourite of mine, but probably the best of the rooting around series, and the best at showing what foraging can add to a beer, especially if you make it one element rather than the sole element.

Background: I left off grabbing this one for a while. The Rooting Around series, a series of beers made with locally foraged items, missed more than it hit in my opinion. However it was recommended to me on the Alcohol and Aphorisms Facebook page, so I thought, what the heck, why not? This is a beer made with rock samphire, Douglas firs, tonka beans, orange peel and a mix of oats, rye and barley in the malt bill. Then that whole mixed up mess was aged in Sauternes casks. This is either going to be great or terrible with a set-up like that. Put in Ozzy Osbourne again while drinking this, prefer the earlier years tracks on the album I think. Anyway, another one grabbed from my Wild Beer supplier that is Independent Spirit.

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