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09-05-2014, 09:42
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Boak & Bailey's Beer Blog - Writing about beer and pubs since 2007 (http://boakandbailey.com)
http://boakandbailey.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/tamar_creek.jpgSt Austell have continued their exploration of ‘world beer’ styles with a*Belgian-style sour cherry beer.We’ve met Roger Ryman, head brewer at St Austell, a few times, and he has always struck us as rather sensible — the kind of bloke who keeps a very tidy glove box. Get him on to the subject of Belgian beer, however, and he becomes positively*giddy.
Last time we bumped into him, in a pub in Penzance, he’d just come back from a trip to Poperinge accompanied by the latest edition of Stange and Webb’s*Good Beer Guide to Belgium (http://www.booksaboutbeer.com/products/good-beer-guide-belgium), and was excited to have re-stocked his cellar with multiple cases of De Ranke XX Bitter.
So when*he*brews Belgian-style beers at St Austell, it isn’t a text-book exercise or a mere*marketing gimmick — there is a certain amount of passion (sorry) behind it.
The base beer for Tamar Creek was brewed on a*tiny experimental brew kit, inoculated with wild yeast and brettanomyces, and then aged in wooden barrels on a bed of cherries from the Tamar Valley for six months. It comes in 750ml corked bottles wrapped in printed paper, in a tribute to*Liefman’s — a better marketing manoeuvre than this rather gory*PR photo:
We bought our bottle at the brewery shop for £9, but the online price is £14 including delivery (http://www.staustellbreweryshop.co.uk/shop/beers/tamar-creek/). Is it worth the money?
TastingOn opening, we got hit by an immediate nostril-curling sting of ‘funk’ which reminded us specifically of apples rotting in an orchard. (Brace yourselves — this review is all about ‘the erotics of disgust’.)
Poured into squeaky clean glasses, a soapy rose-tinted head rose up and over the lip of the glass before prickling away to nothing after 30 seconds or so, leaving what*looked like a glass of well-aged*red wine.
Despite a rather thin body, it tasted convincingly Belgian, the funky aroma matched by an acidic note not unlike (brace…) bile.*It took us a while to pin down exactly which taste memories were being triggered, then it clicked: it had the*skull-dissolving tang of pink grapefruit juice.
There was a dry tannic note, too, which wasn’t unlike biting into a grape seed.
On the whole, we’ll call it a grower. Though, at first, it seemed thin and one dimensional, the texture and sweetness built as it coated our mouths, and ‘ho-hum’ eventually turned to ‘yum yum’.
We didn’t regret spending £9 on it — about the*same price as an imported Belgian equivalent — but whether you reach the same conclusion*will probably depend on your interest in*the exercise, the value you place on*‘buying local’, and your knowledge of the style.
We certainly look forward to future iterations of this brew, and to more heartfelt Belgian-inspired experiments from St Austell.
St Austell Tamar Creek (http://boakandbailey.com/2014/05/st-austell-tamar-creek/)

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