Last time I caught up with One Drop, they were putting on a study in IPAs; this time around we’ll take a deep dive into fruited sours.
“How can you possibly dive deeply into such a shallow pool?” I hear you ask. “Fruit sours are just fruit and lactic acid aren’t they?”
Well, hypothetical reader, you may be very attractive and intelligent with impeccable fashion sense, but you’ve gone off half-cocked here. It’s not 2015 anymore. We’re a long way down the road from the halcyon days of 4 percent ABV kettle sours with a bit of fruit purée thrown in. Once upon a time, any one of these four beers would have been a shoo-in for the GABS podium, in 2023 it’s just another batch of new releases from One Drop.
We’ll start off gentle with Rainbow Country, a simple 6.9 percent ABV glitter sour. The boffins in their ivory tower over at the BJCP might not recognise a glitter sour in their style guide, but that’s not going to stop One Drop. Watermelon, rockmelon, lemon and lime provide a double dose of bright red melon citrus amidst a whirlpool of edible glitter.
What’s special about Rainbow Country is the dissonance between the aroma and flavour profiles. Aroma-wise it’s like being suffocated in a bag of hard candy. Sweet watermelon and lemon lollies give the impression that your first taste is going to be all sugar and imitation fruit. What transpires is a mouth-puckering acidity amidst prominent zesty lime juice. The absence of melon sweetness means that if it weren’t for the glitter now covering your lips you could be fooled into thinking you’d drunk a completely different beer.
Next on our sour journey is an 8.2 percent ABV quad-fruited imperial sour. Swamp Funk bumps up the alcohol and fruit intensity with a yin yang combination of blackberries and blackcurrants with white nectarines and white grapes. Added into this harmonious mix is a dose of unfermentable lactose for a bit of milky sweetness.
Pouring a deep, dark, brick red, Swamp Funk leads with predominantly dark fruit aromas of Ribena and purple grape Hubba Bubba. It’s not all fruit, however, with a smear of vanilla yoghurt creeping in on the backend. This continues on tasting with dark berries overwhelming the lighter nectarine but, most importantly, Swamp Funk is massively juicy. It’s not straight up tart like Rainbow Country: the creamy sweetness from the lactose adds that extra level of complexity that tempers the fruit acidity. The clever use of adjuncts here brings about a much more fascinating and balanced beer.
Now that we’ve introduced lactose into the equation, let’s get a bit silly with it, shall we? Pie Head is a classic One Drop imperial pastry sour. Labelled as a 9 percent ABV plum & peach crumble ice cream sour, you should be under no illusions as to what’s about to happen.
Peach cobbler and ice cream is a rolled gold favourite of mine so I was particularly looking forward to this. We know One Drop are able to infuse their sours with plenty of fruit and cream, but a stonefruit crumble has a lot more going on than that. First impressions are very promising, like a freshly baked cobbler resting on an open windowsill – Pie Head will have cartoon husbands, neighbours and dogs helplessly levitating by their nostrils to the source. Caramelised stonefruit and vanilla ice cream almost visibly emanates from the glass. On the palate is ripe peach flesh with a juicy tartness followed by smooth ice cream, biscuit and, as the beer warms, cinnamon. It’s sweet but not overtly so considering the flavour profile and very easy-drinking. By God, they’ve done it.
Finally, we come to the monster of the pack. One Drop are the undisputed kings of the imperial fruit sour in Australia with their Double Take series, so why not push the envelope a bit more and basically create a new style while they’re at it? Triple Take is a 12.1 percent ABV Berliner wine with a frightening fruiting rate of 690 grams of raspberries per litre. That’s like two punnets of berries in every bloody can. A ludicrous display.
Approaching a beer like this, I’m more looking for what I can find that isn’t raspberry because, obviously, it’s essentially fermented raspberry juice. Embarrassed to report that I failed dismally in the aroma department. I dare anyone to smell anything other than pureed raspberries coming from this deep blood red elixir. Maybe raspberry jam at a stretch. In the mouth though is where things take a slightly more complex turn. Obviously, it’s like 85 percent raspberries still, but under all that is a green and slightly earthy base note. The lactic tartness is barely keeping up with the sheer volume of fruit and alcohol but it does manage to take the edge off the expected slight boozy warmth. All in all, it’s not quite as bright as what you’re expecting but that only serves to make it more interesting.
Published April 24, 2023 2023-04-24 00:00:00