Magical Mystery Pour #2: Tzatziki Sour

Tzatziki Sour: bottle next to glass full of beer.

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 thoughts on “Magical Mystery Pour #2: Tzatziki Sour”

  1. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  2. 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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