Readers of the blog will know I am more a wine drinker than a beer drinker.
It is not that I don’t drink or enjoy a beer or two, it is just that I have less of a tolerance for beer (4/5 pints seems to be my absolute max. these days) which tends to give me shocking hangovers (drinking the wrong beers perhaps) the older I get (I am no longer prepared to waste precious days out of work feeling like sh*t), I am not a fan of overt bitterness (an inherent feature in a lot of beers due to the hops) and I haven’t really found a style of beer that totally floats my boat (probably because I haven’t tried that many).
My interest in widening my beer horizons (have always enjoyed the odd pint or two in my local, the Heathcock – god I miss that place so much) has been piqued by Gourmet Gorro’s Instagram and twitter feeds, which are full of exotic and frankly weird beer styles suggesting I am missing the boat beer wise.
In addition, Cardiff Bites (who works in the same office as me – or did pre Covid 19, as now that would mean working in one of my spare bedrooms!) is always going on about sours and I like sour things. I am a person who regards battery acid as a touch mouth puckering.
As a result I though I would give sours a go beer wise and put in orders (at different times) with the Bottle Shop in Cardiff – adding some wine, would have been rude not to) and Pops’n’Hops (also in Cardiff)
Both delivered very promptly and in the case of Pops’n’ Hop it came so quickly I think they must have a tardis. I pressed the confirmation button for the order and pretty much the door bell rang with them at the door (Minority Report ordering).
Both looked to offer an interesting selection and here was what I thought of them (in no particular order in terms of preference – they are listed merely in the order I drunk them).
Salty Kiss – Magic Rock ( bottleshop Cardiff). My first taste of a sour beer and it is fair to say this was an easy introduction to the genre.
Slightly tart with a hint of saltiness this was a quaffer beer (nicely priced at around the two pound mark to allow for that).
What this beer left me wanting was a touch more of the sourness and fruit.
I didn’t really get a gooseberry hit, which was a shame, and the sourness was pretty subtle to my tastebuds.
It all felt a touch underpowered – nice but not a wow beer for me.
Price : £2.00 – £2.25.
Nice subtle citrus notes (predominately grapefruit) with only the slightest touch of bitterness (from the wormwood in the mix), it disappearing down the hatch very easily.
Is it a beer drinkers drink? Who knows, but as a low alcholol number (3.5° abv) I liked it and could drink a lot of these on a warm day.
Price: Around £5.
Blackberry Sorbet – Decadent Ales ( Bottleshop Cardiff).
For a sour beer novice, the colour of this beer was a bit surprising with its soft drink/soda appearance.
On the nose it gave off loads to sweet blackberries, as well as a touch of citrus. On the palate it was more tart fruit (blackberries to the fore, but also citrus in the mix).
Very enjoyable and a,dangerously easy drinking beer. Loved it.
Price: Around £6.00.
Lime Berliner Weisse – Wild Card Brewery (Pops’n’Hops).
Interesting number this with the sourness coming from limes.
I thought it had the tanginess of dried, rather than fresh, limes or even a touch of the kaffir lime to it, as well as a slight saltiness that I associate with preserved lemons or the nice bit of a tequila slammer (i.e. the bit before the cheap tequila).
Nice intensity to this beer, despite a low abv (4°), but there was just a niggle about it that made me think I couldn’t do a whole session on this beer.
Touch of the manufactured about the lime flavour here perhaps.
Personally think this beer would work better with food (especially spicy stuff) than on its own.
A second can of it drunk with peri peri chicken skewers (very nice from Martin Player) confirmed this theory, with the beer working very well with the chilli spice.
Price: Around £4.50.
Gose Town Fruit Sour – Twisted Barrel Ales ( Pops’n’Hops)A really gluggable number this, which I could drink all day long.
On the nose tart raspberries were to the fore, whereas on the palate the raspberry was joined by blackberry and a briney twang on the taste buds.
Really enjoyed this – exactly what I seem to like in this style of beer.
Would definitely buy again.
Price: Around £6.
Citrus tart – Fierce Beers (Pops’n’ Hops).
Another easy drinking number this, with lots of refreshing lemon and lime in the mix and just a touch of bitterness at then end.
Reviews I read suggested it would be really sour, but I would regard it as only moderately so (I make lemonade much tarter than this).
I would describe it as a superior version of the old lager and lime, with a much better beer base and the proper sharpness of lime and lemon rather than the synthetic sweetness of lime cordial.
Nice, but not my favourite of the bunch (Mrs. SF was a big fan of this beer).
Price: Around £3.60.
Peach & Nectarine Sour – Vault City Beers (Pops ‘n’ Hops).
Well this was a surprise, thick almost smoothie like when poured into the glass.
On the nose and palate, it was loaded with stone fruit (the peaches and nectarine of the beer’s name) with added complexity of tropical fruits (mango and passionfruit), as well as vanilla spice.
On drinking this, what came to mind was an alcoholic Walls Solero exotic ice lolly.
Cheap it ain’t, but it is fantastically refreshing and an absolute belter of a beer.
Price: Around £7.
London Sour – Kernel Brewery ( Bottleshop Cardiff).
Interesting beer, which to me was on the more conventional beer side as against some of the others. It is, as I understand it, based on a Berliner weisse style of beer.
Aromas of lemon and lime wafted up from the glass, with tart fruit and quite a malty taste to it, as well as a slight mustiness.
Not my favourite out of the haul, but still pleasant enough.
Price: Around £3.
Quince Elizabeth- Yonder Brewing and Blending (Pops ‘n’ Hops).
This “beer’ m” really intrigued me. Firstly Yonder Brewing and Blending is only a few miles up the road from my Mum’s house, secondly the quince used is the left over pomace from Pilton Cider and I grew up in Pilton (was great for free tickets to Glastonbury Festival back when I enjoyed such things – now it has about as much appeal as a boil on the bum).
and lastly I love quince in all its forms (very underrated fruit).
This had a really tart and funky flavour to it, with a nice hit of the floral that you get from ripe quince.
Really nice drink (if a little pricey) this.
Price: £12 plus.
Have to say I was genuinely surprised as to how much I enjoyed these beers.
I know bugger all about beers, but it seems sours are very much my type of beer and I am now kicking myself for not having tried them before.
Top three were:
- Peach and Nectarine Sour – Vault City Brewing
- Quince Elizabeth by Yonder Brewing and Blending; and
- Gose Town Fruit Sour by Twisted Barrel Ales/Blackberry Sorbet by Decedant Ales (couldn’t split these as equally as good).
Typically these were the priciest beers out of the lot!!! I clearly have expensive tastes
Would I buy sours again? Definately – all power to the sour I say!
Next batch had already been bought from Pops’n’Hops (and much to my chagrin the Vault City Peach & Nectarine Sour had sold out – seems you have to be seriously quick off the mark to get hold of Vault City Beers, but I did manage to bag a Sipa V2).
Both the Bottle Shop and Pops’N’Hops are great independents offering a really good selection of beers (and in the case of the Bottleshop wines too).
Now more than ever is the time to support your local Indies and the best way to do that is by buying stuff from them.
Address: 4 Pen y Lan Road, Roath Cardiff, CF24 3PF and Station Approach, Penarth, CF64 3EE.
Now open to walk ins I believe.
Address: 67 Whitchurch Road, Cardiff, CF14 3JP.
Think (as at publication date of this post) still online orders only (delivery or pick up), but best to check as things oh so slowly start to open up.