This is the average tongue and the areas of taste.
I really know fuck all about brewing techniques, it is something I’m fascinated by and could listen to people wax lyrical about for hours, but the finer points of tasting are beyond my knackered tongue.
I know what I like and I know what I don’t like.
I know what tastes good to me might taste like ‘ashtrays’ to some of my drinking circle.
If I can tell you one thing about Sour Beers it is that there is most definitely a border across the middle my tongue, that when drinking a sour beer, nothing is tasted from that line to the back of my throat.
Its as if some small tribe of taste bud work men erected a diversion because some tongue renewal works over ran and all other flavours were diverted away to the pits of my stomach.
This isn’t a bad thing. It is all very new to me.
Onomatopoeic-ally for me though, it is currently an hhhhmmmm thing.
So you know, hhhhmmmm is way above Meh, but not MMMMmmmmm.
Where Meh is indifference of the worst kind and MMMMmmmmm is the tasty of tastes; hhhhmmm is for something I want to like it, I do like it to some extent and while it isn’t rocking my world, I’m appreciating the work and research going into it.
A previous Friday I was in Knott Bar in Manchester and chanced upon RedWillow Brewery Faithless XVI Gooseberry Sour (3.6%) description lovingly sellotaped (other sticky tapes are available) on the pump by means of a felt tip written paper note, which also had the word Saison as part of the descriptor (something nicely cleared up by the brewer, Toby McKenzie on Twitter (other social media sites are available)).
It of course smelt sour. A smell I would instinctively take back to the bar after 1 or 2 cautious tastes and then pass around my associates so they can share in the taste misery before I get an alternative drink.
But the taste was indeed that of gooseberry.
I don’t trust fruit with fur, but much like my constant trepidation with coffee, I’m more than fine with things that taste of these things, that are made from/of these products, but aren’t solely 100% coffee or gooseberry.
Still, I enjoyed my half with the same amount of vigour I treat anything I’m trying for the first time.
I could have finished off that sentence with some obvious smutty innuendos, but you can make your own up.
Roll on to the Indy Man Beer Con and the Magic Rock Brewing Dark Arts Soured in Bruichladdich with Raspberries (6%). This was again exciting the sour taste buds, again the fruit flavour came through, again it was too fucking cold from the keg.
My lambic obsessed acquaintance had convinced me to sign up for the Sour Seminar (above the other talks on offer) which would be hosted by Jeff Rosenmeier of Lovibonds.
What followed was a massively entertaining near 60 minutes of 3 beer tastings & good humour and a little education about the souring beer process (and all for an additional £3).
We were treated to the Henley Gold (4.6%) which is another bollock for the Wheat Beer dog.
This was followed up by the Sour Grapes (5.4%) something I understand was derived from Henley Gold but I could be totally making that up. Lambic buddy remarked it had an after taste of corn tortilla chips. It was the most sour of the 3 beers I’d had up to that point.
The piece de resistance though was the final drink taster on offer, something that I didn’t make a single sodding note on but that I did enjoy very much (possibly a mix of Henley Gold and a more matured/soured beer? I never said I was any good at this).
I enjoyed it but not as much as Lambic pal who appeared to be having a multiple orgasm, but trying to repress it in a room of 40+ people, especially when you’ve got Dave Grohl sat in front of you, someone who regularly crops up on my twitter time-line moonlighting as head brewer of Quantum Brewing and going by the pseudonym Jay Krause.
(On a personal note, stick to the brewing because its all good from Quantum, whereas Foo Fighters’ output has been massively on the wane since “All My Life”)
To repeat, I know fuck all, I just taste and report (while hopefully not jizzing in my pants).
Jeff is a top bloke, someone I said could sell me my own piss because he was so infectious and enthusiastic. This was a short sell, he could probably make my skin not crawl when I hear the word craft.
So my own jury is still out on sour beers, but I welcome any form of experimentation and evolution. And if anything, writing this piece it gives me the chance to use Lactobacillus as a tag.