Patreon’s Choice #4: Boundary Brewing

Boundary beers in their bottles.

This is the fourth in a series of posts with notes on beers chosen for us by our Patreon subscribers. (If you want bonus posts and to steer what we write about sign up for the price of half-a-pint per month.)

The Beer Nut (Twit­ter, must-read blog) sug­gest­ed that we try some beers from Bound­ary, a brew­ing com­pa­ny based in Belfast, North­ern Ire­land:

They’ve been on my “Hmm, not sure” list for a while, even as their recipes get more and more ambi­tious. I don’t see many of their beers where I live and am curi­ous as to how they’re get­ting on.

Here’s how Bound­ary describes itself on its web­site:

We are a Coop­er­a­tive Brew­ery in Belfast owned and run by our mem­bers. Open­ing our doors in 2014, we are the first brew­ery in NI to bring togeth­er mod­ern US styles with the more tra­di­tion­al Belgian/French style beers.

What this seems to mean in prac­tice is some vari­a­tion on crowd­fund­ing where­by investors of var­i­ous sizes invest in and co-own the com­pa­ny, in exchange for beer and par­ties, with the promise of inter­est and div­i­dends “when it is appro­pri­ate”.

We bought our selec­tion of their beer via Beer Ritz online and tack­led them in ascend­ing order of alco­holic strength (up the lad­der) as is our usu­al approach.

Four beers from Boundary in their glasses.

First came the Amer­i­can Pale Ale at 3.5% ABV and £2.53 per 330ml bot­tle. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, this was what we’d call an out­right dud. There was a dab of acid, the spec­tre of some malt flavour, and then a long trudge through papery, sali­va-like, watery noth­ing­ness. At the end we thought we detect­ed a faint chilli-like burn that we’re fair­ly cer­tain wasn’t sup­posed to be there. We wished for it to be more bit­ter, more fruity, boozi­er, or even sweet­er – just more some­thing.

Next came G.O.A.T. which is billed as a New Eng­land IPA at 4.8% and £2.77 per 330ml. This one, at least, had a pleas­ing aro­ma – that have-an-Out­span, elec­tric air-fresh­en­er zap you get from Cloud­wa­ter or Brew­Dog takes on this style. It looked like a text­book NEIPA, too, which is to say dis­tinct­ly over­cast, and lurk­ing some­where between grey and green. The flavour was a let down, though, remind­ing us dis­tinct­ly of the time we tried to make a Ger­man-style wheat beer with dried ale yeast. The word we kept using was dirty. We strug­gled to fin­ish this one and, indeed, didn’t.

The big­ger NEIPA in the set, For­ev­er Ago, has an ABV of 6% and cost £3.13 for 330ml. This had less aro­ma than G.O.A.T. and was also less hazy. It had a real­ly rough fore­taste – it actu­al­ly made us say, “Ugh!” – with some off-putting sour­ness, too. There was some apri­cot or man­go in there but, again, not enough to drown out the bum notes or sell the beer. Per­haps this might have been bet­ter if we’d drunk it the week it was bot­tled but it had a best before date of August 2018 so sure­ly shouldn’t have tast­ed so com­plete­ly exhaust­ed.

Final­ly, Export Stout at 7% cost £3.43 per 330ml and – thank good­ness as we are begin­ning to feel mean – was very decent. A hint of acid­i­ty here works to under­line a sour cher­ry char­ac­ter, which in turn har­monis­es with a dusty, musty dark choco­late truf­fle char­ac­ter. We might have pre­ferred more body and sweet­ness but, with­out them, it pulls of the trick of seem­ing vague­ly Bel­gian. Was there even, per­haps, a hint of Bret­tanomyces in action? We would gen­er­al­ly expect a bit more from a beer at this strength and price but we enjoyed it and would cer­tain­ly try oth­er dark beers from Bound­ary.

11 thoughts on “Patreon’s Choice #4: Boundary Brewing”

  1. We came across Bound­ary Export Stout and also Gift – an 8% impe­r­i­al stout – in a bar last week. Hav­ing not seen them before, we thought we would give them a go.

    We tried both, but I have to say both were under­whelm­ing. We both agreed the export stout was our pre­ferred beer but that nei­ther was note­wor­thy. It sounds like this is a brew­ery that has some work to do.

  2. I’m a coop­er­a­tive mem­ber and boy they real­ly can be a bit of a frus­trat­ing brew­ery at times. The APA to me has been a dud since its incep­tion 3 years ago, and the GOAT hasn’t been much bet­ter even though it’s a much more recent one. That said though I actu­al­ly have had some decent expe­ri­ences with the For­ev­er Ago, though I did notice some incon­sis­ten­cies.

    They’re a sort of top heavy brew­ery where I end up lik­ing a lot of their spe­cials, but their reg­u­lars I leave well alone. Like their Screw­ball, a rasp­ber­ry vanil­la emm, thing, I think is a love­ly beer, I’ve always had time for their stronger stouts, and some of their Push and Pull IPAs can be rather good! But yeah, they’ve a lot of work to do.

    1. Rel­e­vant to your inter­ests though, the one time I real­ly did enjoy the APA was when they acci­den­tal­ly chucked a bunch of brett in it and it result­ed in a very tasty funky lit­tle num­ber.

  3. Not tried them and based on review not worth me leav­ing this pub to walk ten min­utes to beer ritz, bound­ary large­ly oper­at­ing in a tiny home mar­ket with lit­tle com­pe­ti­tion per­haps not quite ready for the beer geek sat­u­rat­ed UK main­land. Also worth not­ing you two have nev­er real­ly got into neipa so wouldn’t expect too much excite­ment from you for set of four includ­ing two neipas.

    1. Tiny home mar­ket with lit­tle com­pe­ti­tion” – do you mean they are actu­al­ly man­ag­ing to sell this stuff around Belfast? There’s quite a lot of brew­eries around Scot­land (and no doubt Eng­land and Wales) for whom that would be an enor­mous doorstep mar­ket. And afi­ak the vast bulk of small Scot­tish brew­eries are turn­ing out at least drink­able beers (and often a lot bet­ter than just “drink­able”) so there is no excuse for Bound­ary being, it sounds, just large­ly incom­pe­tent. I reck­on that if you are still, to be char­i­ta­ble, high­ly vari­able after six months, nev­er mind three years, it might be time to con­sid­er whether you should be brew­ing at all. And that’s with­out evening men­tion­ing the prices. Craft beer mug­ging.

      1. A real prob­lem in North­ern Ire­land is a lack of expe­ri­ence in com­mer­cial brew­ing for almost every sin­gle per­son who has start­ed a brew­ery there (North­bound being the only exam­ple of a for­mer pro brew­er I can think of off the top of my head), which has result­ed in wide­spread con­sis­ten­cy prob­lems (at least where nat­ur­al apti­tude for brew­ing falls short). In spite of this they’re still well sup­port­ed as part of a rather intense sort of local­ism. For a peri­od of maybe a year or more I was putting almost 1 in 2 of a cer­tain brewery’s bot­tles down the sink when­ev­er I was bold enough to give them anoth­er shot, and yet their stuff was still fly­ing off the shelves in the off licence. The lev­el of incon­sis­ten­cy they had then I sus­pect would close cer­tain brew­eries in Eng­land, and yet they remain pop­u­lar to this day. On a side note, Scot­tish beers out­side of Harviestoun and Williams Bros have sur­pris­ing­ly poor dis­tri­b­u­tion in North­ern Ire­land, Fall­en would per­haps be the next most com­mon but that’s about it.

        For­get­ting Scot­tish brew­eries though, South­ern Irish brew­eries vast­ly show up North­ern Irish brew­ing in terms of over­all qual­i­ty and con­sis­ten­cy, we’ve a hell of a lot of catch­ing up to do.

  4. Inter­est­ing. Had For­ev­er ago a cou­ple of times (beer fes­ti­val last sum­mer and bot­tle a few months lat­er) and enjoyed on both occa­sions. Pos­si­bly issues with con­sis­ten­cy?

  5. I remem­ber study­ing their prospec­tus when they were start­ing to raise funds. Their fig­ures were a wild opti­mistic fan­ta­sy. They envis­aged (if I recall cor­rect­ly) hav­ing four or five paid employ­ees based on a 2.5bbl kit. I expect hard eco­nom­ic real­i­ties became appar­ent very rapid­ly. They were how­ev­er very good at sell­ing them­selves and the plan.

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