Anyone who has asked me the difficult 'What's your favourite beer then?' question this year will probably have had me rattle off a current flavour of the month list of beers. But one that I have always raved about (although not as yet actually got around to reviewing) was Millionaire by Wild Beer Co. It is one of the most decadent tasting beers I've ever had - just velvety chocolate caramel sticky goodness... is it obvious I have a sweet tooth? I've had a couple of other Wild Beer Co offerings as well so I hold them in high esteem in general as a brewer of fine beers. Which is precisely why, when I was creating the Beer Hawk order in order to get my grubby hands on my Beer of the Week KBS, I was more than happy to add another of their beers to the basket for sampling.
Sleeping Lemons is on a completely different plane to Millionaire from the outset. They could not be more contrasting in their styles. It is a Gose; a traditional German-style sour wheat beer (usually brewed with coriander and salt). Now we all know I don't always have the best relationships with sour beers, but by their sheer excellence in ability at creating wonderful concoctions of flavours I was more than confident that this too would be a standout example.
It pours a light cloudy golden colour (was tempted to say lemony). I couldn't quite place all of the aromas, it's a strange combination, certainly the citrus element is there but there is a staleness from the sour also. Not unpleasant though - although the description isn't helping matters. From here though it goes downhill a little for me. The taste left me so disappointed. I think I expected a lemon infused wheat beer with the sharp citrus and salt elements really taking the beer into the next level. It really doesn't deliver. It was for me, like a lightly carbonated lemon water with a heavily salted background. There wasn't much substance to the beer at all, just something akin to fizzy lemon water. The sour though was fine for me - as I've said previously there is a line that if crossed I tend to check out, however the sour is just right but the flavouring misses the mark by miles.
Given I'd liked their previous offerings so much, I felt it only right I get a 2nd opinion on the off chance that my palate was just playing up a bit on that particular day. So I asked the good lady to have a taste and just give me her immediate impression. I waited with baited breath for her response, for a redeeming beacon to cut through my flawed opinion. However, it was not to be, and the words fell from her mouth like a judge delivering a death sentence. 'It tastes like the saline solution you swish around your mouth after you have had a tooth out at the dentist - just far too much like salty water'. The devastating verdict that this delivers may not quite echo as loud to anyone who doesn't know my better half personally. Salt is something that gets automatically added liberally to literally every meal in ways I cannot possibly understand or explain. If it could be sprinkled onto her morning cornflakes without condemnation, I'm sure she would. So for Sleeping Lemons to be classed as too salty, is a massive statement and only reaffirmed my original impressions.
This did not work for me. However, it might well be that there is a time and place for it. For not all is lost on me. There is a light, crisp and refreshing quality to it. I can see this working on a baking hot summer's day, out in the garden with the BBQ in full flow, running about after the kids kicking a ball about and generally sweating your Thrupenny Bits off. An ice cold one of these would probably hit the mark right at that moment and feel like the best thing you've ever tasted. Perhaps the cold late October evening I chose was a disservice to the true potential it really has. Who knows?
It won't put me off trying more from the Wild Beer Co catalogue - as I do think they produce some excellent beers. Maybe I should stick to the luxury styled ones like Millionaire, Billionaire, Wildebeest, Gazillionaire, etc. Perhaps it's also time I stop torturing myself and just avoid the sours altogether. In their blurb on the site, they reference the fact that this was a once nearly extinct style, which is making a comeback. I'm not convinced. It's not for me. Maybe there is reason why it nearly rode off into the sunset.