Thursday, 1 June 2017


Trolltunga, the bottle tells me, is a rocky outcrop in Norway that, well, looks like a troll's tongue in stone. And Buxton Brewery, for it is they, decided that it would make a great name for a gooseberry sour IPA. I, for my part, decided that the afternoon would be the best time to have this. A changeable day of weather and some bright but dull garden photos, despite the fact that now the sun is shining in full strength, made it a decent enough time to pour and so I did.

I have been enjoying my half term. Plenty of work to do, plenty of politics to make me fearful and give me a headache but also plenty of ale to make me too relaxed to care too much. Would you like to know more?

Musty and murky pour from this one with not much activity from the opening. I picked this number up at the same time as the rather lovely Cloudwater (click here) brew earlier in the week on the basis of someone else, also buying the Cloudwater, saying that it was their favourite. Good enough for me. And the rest has been chilling. Good at around 8 degrees then and opened in about 19 degree heat, which is fair enough. No real head on the pour but the kind of skein atop the orange-y body that speaks of a proper little sour based on my rather limited experience. Aroma is decidedly on the tart gooseberry side and brings to mind summers picking the things when I was younger. Around the summer my family would do fruit picking, easily consuming twice the weight we picked, and then freeze the gooseberries for pies throughout the autumn and winter, this ale smells like that.

Taste is tart too, that fresh and breezy gooseberry smell rapidly translating into the opening burst of fruity hops on the tongue and a sprinkling of bubbles to deliver some yeast and- wham! There's the sour, a huge ball of sour power rolling into the middle of the tongue and fizzing over the edges to hit the cheeks, rapidly descending through the centre of the tongue toward the back of the mouth. Here it effervesces for a while like some mad offering of bath salts before spearing into the back of the mouth but there's n great hit there. The sour, and sour it is, taste remains in the front of the mouth, playing on the tip of the tongue like a bevvy of children on the play-park. That gooseberry remains in the sides of the mouth and is rather lovely. Willow opined that it was "quite nice, actually" by dint of it being fruity but also screwed her face up in cartoonish emulation of the way people do in comics with lemons.

I have to say that it is an improvement on the Tart (click here) that I had quite recently and much fruitier than the Petrus sours that I had (and were the first of the craft I ever had, click here for the full experience). I think that this one succeeds so much because it is a gooseberry sour and it is full of fruity flavours. It is also much more sour than the Wild Goose Chase (click here), doing a much better job of capturing the fruit aspect of the brew and the sourness that makes this style what it is. That is not to declaim the Wild Goose Chase but it is to say that I think this one does it better, much better, and is quite the ale. At 6.3% ABV it is rather strong too, being of the IPA persuasion, but that's not a bad thing either. I can imagine this being the sort of brew that one has at the top of a rock-climb or on the summit after a long walk. I suspect the Lake District but one could just as easily try Ben Nevis or Snowdonia.

Enjoy best, then, at the summit cafe of Snowdonia, looking down toward the coast on a clear summer's day knowing that you are taking the train down. You can sit there and know that you have done the healthy thing by walking up with many hours behind you, fresh from the blasts of wind and burnt a little on the face from the sunshine. You open this and take your time, allowing the sourness to do the job of quenching the thirst after taking on board the water to replace that lost in healthy sweat. Once finished, the memory of the taste will be a good reminder of your escapades on the train journey home.

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