This sour blueberry beer is the fourth and final beer suggested to us by Dina (@msswiggy) and is the result of a collaboration between London’s Beavertown and Somerset’s Wild Beer Co.
I’m convinced this is a medicinal tonic, may its healing powers grant you great health. It’s the bay leaf that really makes this beer. It’s a bit like a carbonated smoothie, but not as sweet. I couldn’t decide if I wanted a bit more blueberry from it, or if it was perfect as it is. I’m no brewer – I trust Wild Beer with my life.
We paid £11.50 for a 750ml bottle from Beer Gonzo. The packaging is more Wild Beer Co than Beavertown being screen-printed and sealed with bright blue wax. Its ABV is 5.5% and there is no foundation style, as such, as their website explains:
We made a base beer out of spelt and buckwheat and infused bay leaves to give some gentle spice, the beer has been fermented with the Wild Beer Co’s own strain of wild yeasts. After fermentation we have added more than a ton of Blueberries.
We really didn’t know what to expect other than that, foolishly, we thought it might be blue, and were also bracing ourselves for some extreme funky sourness.
After a battle with the wax we popped the crown cap — there was no cork, thankfully — and got an immediate powerful whiff of… Blackcurrant Lemsip? (SRTN.) A definite generic berry fruitiness anyway. It went into the glass like a Cantillon beer — with lots of excitement and fizz which quickly died away leaving an almost flat surface with prickling bubbles surfacing and popping. It wasn’t blue but a muted shade of purple, like thin Polish beetroot soup.
On tasting our immediate though was that its closest relation is Kriek but that passed fairly quickly: it’s less sour than most Belgian cherry beers and, at the same time, has some other straaaaaaange flavours.
Most, we think, must come from the weird wild yeasts that are Wild Beer Co’s calling card. In this case we give them credit for the briny pickle-jar saltiness that dominates the after-taste. It’s faintly sweaty in that erotics-of-disgust sense — think ripening cheese rather than armpits.
The bay leaves must contribute the dusty tannic character that had us thinking of those fruit teas that somehow dry your throat and just about suggest berries without ever tasting quite as nice as a glass of hot Ribena. Once again (see our saison reviews) we concluded that we’d rather keep herbs for the cooking pot than have them in beer — their presence was just a bit too dominant and seemed to become louder as we went on.
In conclusion, we thought this was pretty pleasant, and enjoyed it. At the same time, it was simultaneously too weird (herbs) and not weird enough — it could have borne more booze and more sourness, both of which qualities might have made it feel a bit less thin — to be considered a smash hit. But it certainly confirms our view that Wild Beer Co beers are always worth trying even if some experiments are more successful than others. It really isn’t like anything else we’ve tasted and we reckon we could probably have identified the brewery if we’d tasted it blind which suggests a true house character has been born. That’s something we could do with more of.
We’re very grateful to Dina for taking the time to suggest these beers — this has been great fun. (For us, anyway.) She also recommended Chorlton Sandalwood Ale which we weren’t able to get hold of. If we come across a bottle in future we’ll write it up. For the next round Joe Stange (@Thirsty_Pilgrim) has proposed a line-up of interesting lagers.