Another month, another new brewery, another range of beer to acquaint myself with.
Usually this (not particularly arduous) task consists of cracking open a couple of gaudily branded tins of the latest pale ale, but sometimes a brewery comes along that has a slightly more idiosyncratic approach.
The Little Earth Project from way down in the wilds of Sussex, is a microbrewery that seems to be paying little attention to commercial concerns: instead it has launched with a brace of top shelf sours and revivals of old beer styles that although brilliant, won’t have the likes of Brewdog quaking in their boots.
Operating out of a stable as part of a rural, brewpub-thing, the project prides itself on its unimpeachable environmental credentials. Aiming to be the most ecologically sound brewery in the UK; they forage local ingredients, use only sustainable energy, and have their own barley and hops. (they even source their own water from an onsite well)
All this holier-than-though greenery would only get you so far if the beer didn’t live up to it’s pedigree. Fortunately (as I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago) they are brilliant.
My favourite of the half dozen or so that I’ve tried is The Bretted Organic Stock Ale a strong, oak-aged, farmhouse ale with a funky, slightly sour edge.
It pours a lovely, hazy amber. My bottle offered a small, but definite creamy head, but I have had friends and customers tell me theirs poured soupy and flat (this could be the result of overchilling or dodgy qc at the brewery)
It’s quite sweaty, dirty and citrussy on the nose: with aromas of bread, orchard fruit, salt and damp hay (a bit like making love on horseback whilst drinking a cider) The palate is strangely light, with a gentle sourness. I got notes of apple pie, soor plums, dried peel and walnuts. The sour notes fade away quite quickly and are balanced with a surprising finish that has a strange note of brown sugar.
Somehow, this beer packs an unhealthy 10.5% abv. This booziness is so well hidden, that I could almost call this beer sessionable (neckable even)
It’s not going to be to everyone’s taste, but I guess a small minority of you reading this are salivating at the thought of getting your hands on a bottle.
If that includes you, bear in mind that such excellence doesn’t come cheap. We’re flogging the Stock Ale at £5.40/33cl