Down here in Victoria, the lead-up to summer is performing its typical sunshine-and-warmth one day, cloudy-with-hailstones the next dance. But, with each day the mercury pushes closer to the 30s, there's the promise of bumper beer-drinking weather in the months ahead, the kind that calls for some light, easy-drinking refreshment. And Castlemaine's Shedshaker have just the ticket.
Pouring a bright pinkish-red colour with a fluffy white head, also with hints of pink, Cherry Cherry Sour is a delightfully subtle, light- to medium-bodied sour ale. Soured in the kettle over 48 hours, with real cherry purée and free of artificial colours or flavours, it's a suitably tart beer with low acidity and a soft mouthfeel. But it's the beer's gently sweet cherry flavour that makes it truly sing, reminiscent of a cherry yogurt or ice cream without being cloying, and oh-so refreshing.
Shedshaker’s seasonal sour is precisely the kind of beer I like to have in the fridge on standby for the craft-curious. It's sufficiently at odds with traditional perceptions of beer to create intrigue, without being so overwhelmingly sour and rich in flavour as to turn them away.
Mid XPAs are a rarity. There's also something about the "x-tra" connotation that seems at odds with a low ABV beer. Couple the immediately present aroma of Galaxy hops from this beer with its 3.5 percent ABV, and one could be forgiven for thinking it’s an inappropriately named Pacific Ale knockoff (setting aside the absence of wheat). But Mid-Strength XPA is not a Pac Ale clone, and the XPA label is indeed apt for this beer.
The Galaxy has been beefed up with Simcoe for a fruity tropical flavour and aroma, and there's the slightest hint of malt sweetness to round it out. Shedshaker sought to address the low-alc gap in their core range with this beer, but they didn't want to "make a watery, bland mid like so many are." They’ve succeeded in their endeavour, delivering a restrained beer for the responsibly-minded, but with extras.
Published November 2, 2023 2023-11-02 00:00:00