Ohhhhhhh Irish Craft Beer drinkers, don’t you dare be sour ….Clap your hands & feel the power …. It’s a New Day ….. awwwww yes it is!!! While some of us are used to sour beers (and some of us so far along the sour scale it would give Sour Bill a run for his money), many are only starting to even try these. You’d be forgiven to think that sour beers in Ireland would follow the underwhelming nature that Irish IPA’s did when they first appeared. But guess what, they’re not. They’re diving right in at the sour-jellies end of things & upwards. And a brewpub from Wexford is leading the charge.
I’ve enjoyed every single beer I’ve had so far from Yellowbelly, which is in the bowels of Simon Lambert & Sons in Wexford town. They’ve been crammed with so much flavour, intensity & gusto, if the labels didn’t get your attention, the beers sure as hell will. So recently I picked up two of their sours, ‘Gose to Leipzig‘ & ‘Great for the Town‘ on a recent trip into Baggot Street Wines in Dublin.I wanted to try ‘Castaway‘ too, but couldn’t procure a bottle (major disappointment as I love passionfruit sours).
Great For The Town
Description: Strawberry Sour
I’ve had a few strawberry sours in my time, & been disappointed with them. Some had a horrendous medicinal flavour, or a sweet & sour thing going on, where the sweetness was ridiculously cloy, & felt like that artificial strawberry flavour that you find in commercially produced products that is nothing like strawberries.
Now, Wexford & strawberries are absolutely synonymous with each other. As a kid, we’d holiday in Wexford for a few weeks, & I remember going strawberry picking with my mother, & the flavours of strawberries from down there being nothing like the disappointments I’d experience back home in Kildare. To this day, the same remains true. Nothing beats a Wexford strawberry.
This beer has a fantastic colour to it, & I’m glad it wasn’t full-on strawberry red, but you can definitely tell from looking at it, something juicy has been in there. The sourness here isn’t full on face-puckering but is a wonderful tartness that you get from a bloody good strawberry. The aroma tells you for damn sure it’s a sour beer. The great thing about beers like this is they are wonderfully refreshing on a warm day or a Summer evening. And this fits the bill perfectly. The only criticism I can throw at it is that I’d love a hint of that strawberry in the aroma, which frankly doesn’t detract from the experience – so it’s really nit-picking.
Goes to Leipzig
Gose is a wonderful style of sour beer. I love the saltiness of it. It’s a ridiculously underappreciated style of sour beer when today it’s trendy to knock out a Berliner Weisse, or a standard kettle sour. The herbaceous-saltiness is an acquired taste. Typically, this is a style that’s in the 4-5% ABV range. But in what I’ve come to discover in YellowBelly tradition; go big or go home. And this does it in 6%. There’s a wonderful saltwater taffy chewiness to the body of this beer, which is wonderful, with a tiny hint of honey & lemon about it.
This beer’s saltiness comes from pink Himalayan salt, which as a cook who uses this for seasoning things I understand the incredible flavour it can help accentuate due to its high mineral content compared to sea salt.And it isn’t cheap either. I mean, it’s not Fleur de Sel from the Camargue in France expensive, but it’s so worth it.
One thing that has always bugged me about some gose beers I’ve tried has been the heavy-handed use of coriander which when it arrives on the palette for me has wrecked the experience. Coriander is one of those herbs that frankly falls under the ‘marmite rule’; you either love it or hate it. I love how relaxed the coriander is in this beer. It doesn’t try to dominate the palette & it isn’t lost amongst everything else that’s going on. There’s a great balance in this beer, & the thick body of it with those honey/lemon/salt notes I get from it are just a joy to drink.