Monday, 12 January 2015

Our brewery of 2014 - Wild Beer Co

In this new world of craft brewing it takes something quite unique to stand out from the crowd. One brewery that has uniqueness in spades is the Wild Beer Company from Somerset. Wild Beer have made a huge impact on the British beer landscape over the past couple of years with their inventive and delicious beers. To make their inspiring beers they have borrowed techniques from Lambic beers, Champagne and even Sherry. They are flavoured with apricots, pink peppercorns and even cucumber. But the unusual techniques and ingredients are never for the sake of novelty, they are always with flavour in mind. Of course it doesn't hurt that each beer has a fascinating story behind it.

Some of Wild Beer's most extravagant beers have been collaborations not only with some exciting breweries but also a local bakery. In order to explain why Wild Beer Co are our brewery of 2014, we decided to run through a few of their range with some tasting notes below.

Sourdough (3.6%)

This is a collaboration between Wild Beer and Hobbs House Bakery. The bakery have given their ancient sourdough culture to the blend (and we do love sourdough). It pours a light golden colour with some healthy carbonation. It might be the knowledge that there is a bread ingredient in the mix but there really is a whiff of toasted bread, a little like champagne lees but with a woody lambic like character.

This is the second time I've had the beer and it's sourer than I remember, with a lightly citrus character. It's an intriguing and refreshing light beer with an almost lager mouth feel. Lovely effervescence. The wild yeasts come through well giving what could be a one-dimensional beer a depth. This is lovely, even better than I remembered, and might be because we've held on to this bottle for a while as it's designed to evolve in the bottle.

Bliss (6%)

It's not the most appetising looking beer being a murky orange colour without any head at all. The smell is all Christmas fruitcake, heavily spiced with concentrated raisiny fruit. The beer doesn't sing of apricots but they do lend a roasted fruity caramel flavour. The spices make this feel very festive and although it's not our favourite wild beer it is still a strong beer from their range. Best not to chill this too much as it seems to kill the real fruity flavours which come through more as it warms in the glass.

Shnoodlepip (6.5%)

This is the beer that, in our eyes, took Wild Beer from great brewery to game-changing one. It's a collaboration with Burning Sky and Good George brewery. It contains passion fruit which gives the beer lashings of tropical fruitiness. It's a riotous adventure through sour fruit and intriguing spiciness from the pink peppercorns. A truly original beer, with a truly awesome name.

Ninkasi (9%)

Ninkasi is a special beer. A pale beer with a voluminous head that dissipates quickly leaving behind lacing on the glass. Delicious apples and hops on the nose. It has a strong carbonation from the champagne style bottle conditioning which delightfully fizzes on your tongue. The apple flavours build the more you taste. As with all of the Wild Beers the yeast gives a large part of the beer's character. Here it complements the spicy hops to give a savoury note to what could have been a bit of a pudding of a beer. The sugar from the apples has all fermented out leaving just the tang. It rounds out the beer beautifully and is dangerously drinkable for such a high ABV beer.

Raconteur (9.5%)

This barley wine has been aged in brandy barrels from Burgundy and this really comes through on the smell. Vinous aromas and flavours abound. There is an intense raisiny flavour too, with a sourness from aging balancing out what has the potential to be an overly sweet and cloying beer. It has a hint of Flemish red about it and there is a moreish nutty character there too which keeps bringing your lips back to the glass. A savoury touch of marmite is there but certainly not unpleasantly. This is a complex, challenging and ultimately sublime beer. It takes time to appreciate but is worth the effort.

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