Wild Beer Co: Of The Sea (England:Wheat Ale:7% ABV)
Visual: Yellow gold with a thin white dash of a head.
Nose: Bubblegum. Calamari. Slightly salty.
Body: Vanilla toffee. Raspberries. Slightly rubbery. Oily. Mussels. Salt. Crab paste. Slightly cloying. Bubblegum. Sour cream.
Finish: Raw eel sashimi. Slight brown sugar. Slightly rubbery. Slight cardboard. Charred bitterness. Thousand Island Dressing. Sulphur. Salt. Lemongrass.
Conclusion: Ok, first up – It has been ages since I had lobster – I tend to use my available funds on expensive beer more than expensive food, so it is not something I am much of an expert on. So, when this is inspired by lobster bisque, I really can’t tell you if it matches that. However, I have tried to match the closest flavours I could find while drinking this.
It, well, it isn’t a total train wreck, I will say that. Though admittedly that is never a good start to a set of notes. It is pretty much the second worse “damned with faint praise” after “It doesn’t taste like Hitler’s putrid puss filled jizz”. So, let’s move on and examine the beer shall we?
Well, to concentrate on the positive – solid toffee base with some tart raspberry edges, nothing too intrusive, a solid back for the unusual character to work from. Also, there is definite seafood character – kind of calamari, crabs and mussels. They have completely dedicated themselves to this thing’s seafood concept.
Ok, right, so, the downsides. This is really rubbery and salty – not in an awesome Islay kind of booming way, More in a kind of sulphur filled, bringing the beer down with off flavours kind of way. In fact there are a lot of off notes, maybe they are intrinsic to the seafood being used to make it, but they taste very similar to mistakes during the brewing process.
Overall, in the seafood notes that work the crab paste and calamari are the highest and most dominant. The other dominant notes, well there is a bubblegum and lemongrass like character, which actually makes me think a lot of the Sorachi Ace hop – no idea of they used it here, but the tastes are similar. I love that hop, but the flavours here make it feel more artificial which is something this beer really doesn’t need.
So, I love the idea, and dig the innovation, but – this beer really doesn’t work. Sorry.
Background: I have no idea what style this is. There isn’t an acknowledged seafood category that I am aware of. The bottle mentioned a large amount of wheat being used, so I’ve shoved it under Wheat Ale. I also considered spice/herb/vegetable beer, but that seems to ignore the main point of it. I also considered traditional ale, as that is a good catch all, but this seems pretty much the opposite of traditional. Anyway, this was a beer I was excited to try for sheer audacity, but was nervous it was going to suck. The reason why is kind of simple to see – this is and ale made with – Cockles and lobsters, kombu (edible kelp), dulse seaweeds, sea salt, saffron and star anise. I love Wild Beer Co’s innovation, though as of recently they have been about 50/50 with on if they actually work. Sometimes their ideas outreach their ability to implement them. This was grabbed from Independent Spirit and drunk while listening to Anthrax, Amongst the Living.