Working in a beer shop can often bring about its fair share of difficult questions with perhaps the most frustrating being “Do you sell cigarettes?”.
After that, it’s “What’s your weirdest novelty beer?”, because, aside from BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck, we don’t really sell novelty beers. We may have some weird beers, some ingredient combinations that you may not expect to see in beers, but there is a reason why the brewer decided to create that recipe. They did it because they thought it would make a good beer and deserves to be put out there under the brewers’ name.
However, for every person who asks for a novelty beer, there are probably ten people who tell us a beer we recommended is too novel, which, whilst occasionally frustrating, is understandable. After all, before we’d all started really drinking craft beer, if someone had told us that sometime down the line we’d be recommending the following beers to people, we’d have thought that they were crazy!
As it is, try these beers, they’re good, I promise.
Brew By Numbers – 01|04 Ginger & Grapefruit Saison
Literally translated as “season”, saisons are a style originally brewed for Belgian farmworkers to keep them hydrated during the warmer months. When you’re drinking several litres of a beer everyday, you do not want the flavour to be too overpowering, otherwise it’s more difficult to knock back as you scythe away.
Therefore instead of a bitterness coming from hops, this style gets a lot of its characteristics from the subtleness of the yeast, the esters of which produce fruity aromas and flavours often far subtler than flavours gained from hops. As a result, saisons are an ideal blank canvas on which to layer other flavours, allowing them to come to the fore.
The fact that this beer uses grapefruit is what can put some people off if their experience of fruit in beer have been the incredibly sweet and sickly offerings made famous by Früli. This is definitely nothing like one of those. From the grapefruit comes an ever so slight tartness, that supports the, ironically, grapefruit bitterness. From the ginger comes a spiciness that is similar to, and complements, the slightly peppery finish that is present in a lot of saisons.
Coming in a large 750ml bottle, this is a great summer sharer for enjoying at a BBQ.
Northern Monk – Rhubarb and Rosemary Blossom IPA
Perennial favourites on the taps, Northern Monk’s Rhubarb and Rosemary Blossom IPA is the first of their beer we’ve been lucky enough to get in bottle. This beer is the first instalment of their Refectory Series, 4 seasonal beers that are based around an interesting ingredient that has been sourced locally. For the first instalment they have chosen to use rhubarb, very apt given that it is a vegetable that was first cultivated in mass in the UK in Yorkshire back in the late 1800s. The acidity of the rhubarb comes through strongly, creating an initial sharp, fruity sourness in the mouth. However, this initial tartness quickly fades to a dry, bitter, finish with the sweet, herby flavours from the Rosemary cutting through.
At 7.4%, this beer’s ABV is reasonably high, however the sweet and sour combination more than mask it, making it incredibly quaffable.
Wild Beer Co. & Fyne Ales – Cool as a Cucumber
I have to admit, I was not sure about this beer when I first heard of it. Cucumber and mint, in a beer? I was honestly not sure I could even remember or describe the flavours from cucumber, let alone recognise them in a beer. And drinking anything after brushing my teeth with mint toothpaste is always an unpleasant experience.
However, a very hard part of the job is having to try most of the beers which come through our doors, so, in the interests of research, I cracked the bottle open. And boy was I surprised by the result.
The aroma is slightly grassy, with only a faint hint of cucumber and absolutely no mint. But the flavour is so… cucumbery. It’s incredible to think that a beer can taste like cucumber, but it does! And better yet, it works. The production process for this beer involved the brewers peeling and freezing 93 cucumbers before throwing them in to the fermenters, having already laced the copper with mint leaves during the boil.
The mint comes in at the finish, with only a slight cooling of the mouth so don’t drink this in lieu of brushing your teeth before a date! Together, these flavours combine to make one of the most incredibly refreshing and easy drinking beers going. What’s more, at 2.9%, this beer will keep you going for an entire long and hot summers day!