We read with interest the recipe for London brewery Weird Beard’s Little Things That Kill — a ‘violently hoppy little beer’ — in the recent Future Publishing home brewing bookazine.
As lightweights who can’t handle all that much booze but enjoy ‘big beers’, we immediately liked the idea of a brew which supposedly employs all the brewer’s arts to give a relatively low-strength beer (4.5%) the flavour and aroma of something much heftier.
So, last week, when we found a bottle in Truro’s new specialist beer shop, the Red Elephant Beer Cellars, run by the folks behind Penpont Brewery, and snapped it up despite a somewhat hefty price tag (about £3.50, we think, for 500ml).
The minute we popped the custom-printed cap (a sort of zombie Indiana Jones with hops for eyes) a whiff of tinned peach syrup hit us. We struggled a little with the combination of (appropriately) high carbonation and bottle-conditioning, ending up with one very clean glass of pale gold, and one distinctly yeast-hazy.
On tasting, it was immediately obvious that the high mash temperature and use of ‘cara’ malts had paid off: it did indeed have the tongue-coating, dessert wine body of a 6 or 7 per cent beer.
The one-note peachiness continued throughout — pleasing enough, but hardly complex, and certainly not all that violent — but, after a few dud entries from other brewers in our beer advent calendar, we welcomed its cleanness and quality. LTTK, as we now know it, is a beer we could session on, should we ever find it on draught.
Its big brother, Marianas Trench, is a 5.3% ABV ‘transpacific pale ale’. In practice, that means it uses a mix of US and New Zealand hops.
We got a whiff of something nettle-like and catty on pouring and, in all honesty, did not enjoy the first few sips, in which a harsh, stewed-tea bitterness dominated. Thereafter, it seemed to improve. We liked the mousse-like, creamy, chewy, almost milky texture, and picked up some yeasty pepper-spiciness which added complexity. We did not get the big smack of tropical fruit we were hoping for, but there was a little something like lemon-grass which hinted at the East.
On the basis of these two bottles and an astonishingly good kegged ‘Belgian IPA’ we enjoyed in London, we’re putting Weird Beard on the ‘continue to buy’ list — only one step down from ‘trusted’ (Thornbridge, Fuller’s) and well clear of the dreaded ‘avoid’.