The latest batch of Magical Mystery Pour beers was chosen for us by The Beer Nut (@thebeernut) and what connects them is that they are all, in his words, ‘geek bait’.
We suggested several online retailers to The Beer Nut and he selected from the range on offer at Beer Gonzo:
- LoverBeer BeerBera
- LoverBeer Madamin
- Troubadour Westkust
- Troubadour Magma Triple Spiked Brett
- Bell’s Two-Hearted
We decided to start with the lowest ABV beer, Madamin, from Italian brewery Loverbeer, at 6.2%. It is described as an oak-aged amber ale in the Belgian tradition. It came in a 330ml bottle which cost – are you sitting down? – £13.50.
We’re going to talk about value at the end but first we tried to react to the beer itself, putting all that other stuff out of our minds. Did we like how it tasted; and why, or why not?
We managed a clear pour. It looked extremely appetising, rich red-brown with a decent but not extravagant, oatmeal-coloured head of foam.
We knew it was going to be sour before we tasted it because there was an aggressive acidic tang in the air – the sting of vinegar and (we’re not sure if we imagined this one) even perhaps a hint of milk-gone-bad. We’re not super huge fans of sour beer (or sour milk for that matter) so this didn’t immediately get us salivating.
It tasted… Intriguing. The sourness was there but not overwhelming – not the kind of ratchet around the gums that can turn a beer into a macho endurance challenge – and balanced with a lot of other bold flavours. A pronounced, unsubtle oakiness combined with some sour cherry and blackcurrant, and mouth-coating booziness, made it feel more like wine than beer. Rustic home made fruit wine if we’re being generous; rough budget corner-shop red otherwise. The reminder that this is beer after all comes from a lasting bitterness which switched between jarring and interesting from one mouthful to the next.
With this beer, there was no easy answer to the question ‘Do we like it?’ but we definitely didn’t hate it, and kept coming back for more, if only because we spotted something new each time. At one point, the acid and fruit coalesced to suggest grapefruit, and later on we started thinking about chocolate… The point is, there’s a lot going on, and if you enjoy complicated, challenging art-house beers then this one will definitely get your beret spinning.
So that’s us reacting to The Thing Itself. Now, let’s put it in context. For the price we paid – and we’re simply too stingy to have done so without The Beer Nut’s nudging – we could have picked up a 750ml bottle of St Austell’s similarly complex and wine-like Tamar Kriek, or five bottles of Rodenbach Grand Cru. Or a hell of a lot of cheap red wine. Even though we kind of enjoyed it it wasn’t a profound experience, or completely DELIGHTFUL, so there’s absolutely no way we can say it’s worth £13.50 except perhaps to the most obsessive of tickers.