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The arrival of warmer and sunnier days, beginning in May, coincided with a steady stream of fruit beers from Irish breweries.

At the bottom end of the scale, the one I'm expecting most to be sour: Púca Tropical which, like all its many variants, is fermented with mixed yeast strains, for a more authentic bite. In the sunshine it's light and golden, but smells quite syrupy, of fruit punch and pineappleade. The flavour doesn't vary a lot from that, starting out on a hit of Lilt, which shouldn't really be surprising given that the fruits involved are pineapple, mango, guava and lime. The sugar is kept in check by a dry tartness that cuts the foretaste off abruptly and ensures a clean finish. No, it's not the most complex-tasting or grown-up of beers, and I don't think it's an improvement on the original lemon Púca, but it has a use case, like on the sunny afternoon I drank it. 3.5% ABV makes for a suitable session-starter.

I followed it with Loco, a collaboration between Dublin's Rascals and Budapest's Mad Scientist. It's a small step up from Púca, at 4.3% ABV. "A passion fruit, mango and sea buckthorn smash up!" declares the label, like it's 2009. In the glass it's murky and juice-like, the head quickly reducing to a thim skim. It smells of juice too, thankfully not of concentrate. I found it quite plain tasting after that: the fruit is present, but doesn't do much, like a meagre fruit salad. There's a savoury, possibly saline, side to it which I'm guessing is the sea buckthorn, and if so it's not a positive contribution. Even on a sunny afternoon on the patio, this didn't zing, however excited the label copy is about it.

From Hopsicle, a collaboration label for the Bierhaus and Fionnbarra pubs in Cork, in collaboration with Two Sides, the beer brand of Brickyard in Dublin, brewing at Third Barrel, comes (deep breath) Two Sided Twister, a sour ale with mango and raspberry. I thought it would be pink but it's an opaque juicy orange in the glass. The ABV is 4.5% and it's a bit thin with it, though there's plenty of fruit flavour, especially the mango, coming through ripe and sweet. There's a properly tart tang, so it performs well in its role as a sunny-day thirst-quencher. The raspberry is quite quiet, a barely perceptible pink flavour in the finish. It could stand to be sourer but I was very pleased it's not a sticky syrup job.

Next it's Hope, going positively bucolic with Fruit & Flower Sour, 4.5% ABV again, and brewed with passionfruit and hibiscus. They're two quite prominent flavours in their own right; how would they play together? It's a pale translucent pink in the glass and is very lightly textured; not quite watery but with absolutely no sticky, syrupy residual sugar. There's even a trace of proper sourness, expressed as a gentle mineral tang. Fittingly, however, the fruit and the flower are the centrepiece, and it's the hibiscus that comes out on top. Hibiscus always tastes like a summer punnet of strawberry and cherry to me, and this is no exception: sweet and fleshy, with a distinct acidity. The passionfruit is more apparent in the aroma, making the beer smell gooey and sweet, even though it isn't. I liked it. It's fun. And most importantly, it's pure summer in a glass. Wait for the hottest day, cool it well down, and maybe consider some ice: your session-strength rosé in a can.

After that: Brain Freeze. This is the new limited edition from Wicklow Wolf, starting us into the stronger stuff, at 5% ABV. We've got blueberries, raspberries, lime, vanilla and lactose to contend with in this one, which I thought would be a yoghurty emulsion but is actually a clear and bright scarlet. It smells perfumed and floral, like Parma Violets candy. The texture is thick, with a genuine ice-cream effect: think whipped cone with a generous drizzle of raspberry sauce. While it's not overly sugary, thanks to a citric bite from the lime, it's hardly sour either. This is very much a novelty beer, designed to taste like an ice cream and largely succeeding. Whether that makes it any good or not is up to the drinker. For me it was just a little too much on the sticky and artificial side, not that I wasn't warned.

While I'm very much a sceptic as regards the sour-fruity styles in general, I have mostly enjoyed the ones badged as "Catharina sour". I don't know the exact specs, but there always seems to be a brighter and fresher contribution from the fruit, whether that's the placebo effect or not. Galway Bay are (I think) the only Irish brewery with experience in the style, and 5.4% ABV Magnolia is their second, following last year's Lagoma. The fruit blend is an unusual one, of pink guava, dragonfruit and strawberry, and there's a definite pinkish tint to the orange murk. It smells like a smoothie: wholesome and healthy, like it was freshly picked and pulped. There's a proper sourness right in the centre of the flavour, with a pleasing edge of peppery spice. The fruit spreads languidly across this, offering slightly jammy berries and an oily citrus tang: I would confidently have guessed there's lime in this, which there isn't. It definitely confirms my prejudice that Catharina sours are just a better class. Give me a bad one, I dare you.

Trend-chaser Lough Gill has major form at this sort of thing. I have two from them today, beginning with Kiwi Pearadise. Kiwis and pears are not typical fruits for a sour fruity. The eye-watering 9.5% ABV is also far from average. It looks innocent in the glass, a typical juice-like opaque orange, and smells primarily like crisp pear, but with some of kiwifruit's tang as well. While it's not hot, it is thick, thanks to the inevitable lactose. I think that's mostly there for texture, however, as it's not especially sweet. The fruit is real tasting: tangy and acidic like in the aroma. And since the fruits are unorthodox, the overall effect is too. I genuinely don't know if I liked it or not. It's a bit of a drama queen; a bit "look at me: I'm kooky". But at the same time it's not noisy or any way unpleasant. These beers should be all about the fun factor, and I think there's enough of that here, despite an extremely serious ABV.

It gets more serious with our finisher, the 9.7% ABV Sunrise By Night. This has a more orthodox combination of raspberry and vanilla, and looks like a strawberry smoothie in the glass. The aroma is surprisingly subtle, not honking either ingredient up the nostrils. Again, there's no heat from the high alcohol factor, and it's smooth without being thick or difficult. I don't get any of the raspberry's tartness, making it taste more like strawberry or cherry, presumably thanks to the vanilla's sweetness. It's less busy than I was expecting, which is a good thing, but with both of these I don't get why they made them so strong. It doesn't really add to the sensory experience: fruit beers still taste like this when they're several points weaker; there's none of the complexity advantage from strength which you get with, say, stout. This is fine, but no more than that: another of the not-sour "sours", and frankly not even Lough Gill's best work in the space. It was made for a market, I'm sure. I've just never met those drinkers.

No surprise here that the cleaner and sourer examples were more to my taste. I also like that we have a proper genre of summer beers across the breweries, all of which could have simply made another hazy IPA instead.

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