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Magical Mystery Pour #2: Tzatziki Sour

Magical Mystery Pour logo.The second beer suggested to us by Dina (read about the first here) is Tzatziki Sour by Liverpool’s Mad Hatter Brewery.

She says:

Many people considered this their beer of the year.  It was definitely up there for me.  Again, it does what it says on the bottle- it tastes just like tzatziki.  I’ve only had a few cucumber beers in my life, but I have no idea how brewers manage to get such flavour from a vegetable that really doesn’t have much flavour. You just HAVE to drink this beer. I recommend you blend it with a kebab in your face.

This is what we’ve previously referred to as a Jelly Belly Jelly Bean beer: a beer designed to taste as close as possible to another foodstuff altogether. It’s safe to say that if you have an objection to this type of beer and/or you don’t like tzatziki, you won’t like this one.

The bottle opened with an jet-powered hiss and gave off an immediately familiar aroma. Guess what it smelled like? No, go on, guess! Yes, that’s right: tzatziki! That is, mostly of cucumber, with a touch of dusty dried mint, and a high note of acid funk. (Side note: the label would probably work as the cover for an acid funk LP.)

Tzatziki Sour label close-up.

The carbonation was too high for us to get it into the glass in one go — the head just kept rising however slowly we went — so that, though clear at first, it was milky by the end. That didn’t seem inappropriate, though, because it’s not as if you can see through tzatziki, or through Berliner Weisse, on which style this is nominally based. The head was beautifully fluffy and very Belgian-looking, as if it had been whisked.

It took a few sips to get past some initial confusion — ‘Ugh! Wait, what? Hold on…’ — but we quickly became enamoured. The acidity isn’t of the tooth-stripping, bile-like variety but soft and gently palate cleansing, further balanced with a faint saltiness and malt-sweetness. No one characteristic overwhelms or, to put that another way, it’s spiky in every direction at once.

If we have reservations it’s that it’s really not much like beer — more like a ‘refreshing summer drink’ — but it’s not as if the label conceals its weirdness and no-one is going to order one expecting Doom Bar. Which is not to say that it’s a once-is-plenty freak-show either — we could drink a lot of this, especially in the sun, especially cold, especially with grilled lamb and flatbreads.

It also passes two other key tests with (a) more complexity and flavour than many other beers at 4.5% ABV and (b) a reasonable price tag. (£2.90 per 330ml bottle from Beer Gonzo where we got ours (but currently out of stock), £2.75 at Beer Heroes and £3 via Honest Brew.)

This is a clever idea well-executed and we can say with some confidence that, if you want to drink a beer that tastes weirdly and pleasingly like tzatziki, you’re unlikely to find a better one. We’ll be buying more.

Update 23/02/2016: We initially forgot to include Dina’s tasting notes in this post but have now added them.

4 replies on “Magical Mystery Pour #2: Tzatziki Sour”

While I realise that this is precisely the sort of comment you are trying to deflect or discourage with your opening paragraph, I find the concept of such beers baffling. I’d rather just drink the green tea or the coffee or the Um Bongo itself: it would be a lot cheaper and easier on my liver.

You don’t mention whether the beer also had the typical pungent dose of garlic.

No garlic that we detected but, oddly, it’s not a flavour we particularly associated with tzatziki which makes us wonder if all those years in Walthamstow we were eating some odd variant. Or it’s possible that we’re so disgustingly suffused with garlic that we don’t notice it anymore.

We generally agree we wouldn’t have bought this beer without prompting but, at the same time, there’s some additional enjoyment that comes from how cleverly it’s been done. Pears are nicer than pear-flavoured Jelly Belly jelly beans but the pear-flavoured JBJB is so bizarrely bang on that it makes you laugh out loud.

When I’m not suggesting baffling beers, I am a fitness and nutrition professional. Drinking a bottle of this beer will contain less than half of the saturated fat and calories than drinking 330ml of tzatziki. Consumption of tzatziki on that level may add to increased visceral fat around the organs- which could also cause liver problems. You’re right about the cheaper part. Let’s call it a draw.

I love traditional beers, and I love weird and wild beers. I can see why this wouldn’t be everyone’s bag, though.

Well, in reply to the above comment, green tea itself isn’t just that, it is processed in a certain way, and many teas (an old tradition) are flavoured, too. Black teas are cured or fermented, too, another step on the road of being a compound of some kind. One could say of Bailey’s Irish Cream, this is a bad idea and we should drink just the whiskey and the cream and chocolate on their own. (Some would still say that, fair enough!). But again, what is whiskey anyway? Different grains – should it be just one? – aged in wood (different kinds, different years, etc.).

This drink reminded me of koumiss, fermented mare’s milk, so it’s not really that new anyway… By the way I think I’ll pass but I find the concept interesting.


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