Faith was duly restored last night at Cask's final 'meet the brewer' of 2010 - Lovibonds. All keg beers, but this didn't detract from some interesting examples of a variety of styles.
Starting with the "Sour Grapes" because I hadn't seen it before. Apparently originally a batch of Henley Gold that went wrong, this lambic style beer, were it not for the faint sour cherry on the palate (and admittedly not quite as appley) could have been a doppleganger for Aspalls Premier Cru. 'Cider?! ' I can almost hear you exclaiming from here. No, really, I swear. The Beer Gremlin put me onto it by comparing it to Appletise. I suddenly realised where I recognised that spritzy, slightly sulphury smell from. If you don't believe me, you have to check it out for yourself. They could be twins separated at birth. I preferred it to the "Henley Gold" itself, which reminded me slightly of rocket, or some other peppery leaf, but didn't pack the punch of Sour Grapes.
And there were more fruity offerings. The "69 IPA", as well as the hop notes you'd expect from an IPA had the candied orange nose of a beer that strength, all brandy and marmalade all over the palate - almost barley wine like. And the "Gold Reserve" was a fruit fiesta that truly had us scratching our heads. Bearing a definite resemblance to some exotic fruit, we ran through a long list of tastes - strawberry, pineapple, gooseberry, guava, elderflower - before finally arriving at Feijoa! This intensely fruity beer was highly quaffable (in taste, if not in strength) and probably my favourite of the night.
Although it was a close run thing, because finally (Jeff said it was a good beer to end the night on) we came to the "Dark Reserve". A lusciously smoky porter (smoked with beechwood). All the coffee and smoky notes you would want from a London Porter style, with a hint of the sour cherry found in the Sour Grapes. Much smoother than the Henley Dark, the extra fermentation really rounding it off at the edges.
So, my taste for strong beers well and truly indulged I feel almost ready to draw a line under 2010. But watch this space in the New Year, for more ramblings about beery things. And have a very Merry Christmas.