So far I’ve mentioned some of the sour and un-beer-like beers I encountered at the X-Ale mini-beer-fest; now time to mention two of the nifty spiced and fruit-flavoured beers that were also on the menu.
First up, Wild & Woolly’s ‘Basilisk Spiced Berliner Weisse’. Now, I’ve got absolutely no idea who Wild & Woolly are. Questions asked about the brewery were met by answers along the lines of “he was just standing there a second ago”, “he’s around here somewhere,” and “Llew, you know?”
A bit of Googling revealed little more apart from an upcoming Craft Beer College tasting at Hashigo Zake, which looks quite interesting…
But, moving along, next was the question of the beer’s name. Was it something to do with the mythical creature whose gaze turns its victim to stone? At 3% abv, getting quickly stoned didn’t seem likely. Was it something to do with the flavourings, which included kaffir lime leaf, lemon zest and Thai basil? Questions along those lines were also met with “ask the brewer, he’s just over there.” “I’m sure he was there a second ago.”
By this point, the brewer seemed as mythical as the basilisk.
But I was sure about the beer. Damn delicious. Absolutely full of the sharp, tangy flavours of the lime and lemon. Like sniffing a fresh lime leaf, the aroma made me smile, lifting the spirits straight away. In the mouth it was hugely fruity, a round sweetness followed by a superb tartness.
Another one of the X-Ale beers I’d have loved to enjoy outside on a hot summer’s day. And, at 3%, you could sit with a number of them on a long afternoon, watching a former national villain become a hero by scoring lots of ‘runs’ at sportsball.
Based on the 100 or so millilitres I had of this Basilisk at X-Ale, it’s earned a tentative place in my beer dictionary against the word “refreshing.” I’d like to try more, to see if it will cement its place.
At the higher end of the booze scale, but no less fun and fruity, was Mikkeller’s ‘It’s Alive Chardonnay Barrel Aged with Mango.’ The 8% abv carried aloft a big, full sweet aroma of fruit and Chardonnay sharpness, and in the mouth it was absolutely full of mango flavours. Chardonnay often carries that flavour, anyway, so aging this sour beer in the wine barrel with a some of the fruit itself just brought the whole round and sweet, and slightly acidic flavour all the way forward.
Like a bite of the fruit, it was big and bright up front, nearly eye-watering, but faded to a hugely sweet and delicious aftertaste. Like a boozy, bright mango spritzer. Of sour beer.