Draught ABV: 8%
Autumn. The fields are plowed, the nights are drawing in, and in Somerset we are out collecting sloes. But wait! What would these tart, plummy berries do to something rich and heavy like an Old Ale? My mouth started to water. There was only one way to find out.
Trudging through the mud we managed to collect enough sloes to experiment with three casks. After that the bushes were empty, our hands were pricked with thorns, and the kids decided they would rather be inside than outside. The sloes came home, got rinsed, weighed, separated, and then frozen to help break the cell walls down. Once the beer was brewed they were then pricked, added to the cask, and left to mature for several months.
I made the mistake of prematurely mentioning what we’d done to a few people. Despite not being electronic, word spread incredibly fast and far. The three casks were quickly tagged for pubs and people would ask the landlords on a regular basis when the beer was coming on. It was great to see so much interest and enthusiasm about beer.
Now that it’s been served what do we think? The flavour and texture combination is amazing. The tart acidity of the sloes provides the perfect counterpoint to the rich beer, and the additional fermentation helped dry out the beer a bit and add additional condition. It was best served on gravity behind the bar at room temperature, rather than chilled in a cellar and dispensed on a hand pump. It’s fairly obvious, really, but the sloe flavour was masked until the beer hit at least 15 C. If you’re served a chilled pint, just leave it to warm up. It’ll be worth the wait. Most importantly, the lucky few who got to drink it were clamoring for more, which is all we needed to hear.
By its very nature this will always be a very limited edition beer. But it was so spot on that we will certainly be doing it again. Rock on Autumn (and please can we have a nice summer first?).
Warm yourself and your heart – sloely!