Opinion: if it’s got ‘pastry’ in the description, it’d better taste like something you might have found on sale at Percy Ingle.
Most weeks, we write a note for Patreon about the most interesting beers we’ve tasted over the course of the weekend. This has had the positive effect of making us buy more unusual beers, just so we’re not always saying “Pilsner Urquell is good.”
We’re fortunate to live fairly near Pat’s News and Booze, a corner shop off-licence with a remarkable range of craft beer in cans.
That’s where we came across Yonder Brewing’s various pastry sours which we’ve been working our way through for a few months. There are lots for us to try yet but based on six or seven so far, opinions about so-called ‘pastry’ beers have begun to form.
As we say above, in our view, it has to taste like a sweet dessert – one with flour, butter, probably vanilla, maybe some spice. It can’t just be a very fruity, super sour or sickly sweet beer.
Obviously this subset of beer is not for everyone. Frankly, it’s not for us most of the time. But every now and then we like something a little silly to get us thinking about how far beer can be pushed – to define the outer limits.
Overall, we’ve probably had more misses than hits and our Patreon round-ups often include phrases such as “alarming” and “hair-raising”.
A few have stood out as particularly successful, though.
Yonder’s Cherry Pie Pastry Sour, for example, absolutely hit the mark. You can taste the pie case – melt-in-the mouth spicy crumby crumbliness – as much as the filling. Being pretty pink probably helps the illusion along.
Weirdly, though, the same brewery’s Blueberry Pie doesn’t repeat the magic. It was just muddy. Perhaps because blueberries don’t really taste of much in their own right.
Weirder again was the truly excellent Pie Saison by Little Earth Project which we drank a couple of years ago. It looked flat and smelt like vinegar from the pickled onion jar, but then, wow, how the flavour developed. Apple, cinnamon, vanilla, sugar, buttery biscuit base – real Willy Wonka stuff. How did they do it? It could just be the power of suggestion, we suppose, but are we really so susceptible to Jedi mind tricks?
Proving that you can go beyond the pie was New Bristol Brewery Lemon Drizzle Donut Sour (5.5%) which we had at a mini-beer festival at the Llandoger Trow earlier this summer. Jess tested it blind on Ray, who hadn’t read the title or description, and he said: “It tastes like a Mr Kipling fondant fancy.” It was definitely cake-like with a powerful vanilla character at first, before a citric lemonade fizz kicked in – specifically, the sensation of sucking on an R. White’s ice lolly. Just delightful.
Which other examples strike you as particularly successful? By which we mean, both delicious and convincingly pudding-like.