Some time ago I got involved with The Imperial Beer Club, and for a while helped to curate its monthly subscription boxes.
Mark, who owns and runs the club goes to immense lengths to find interesting and often obscure beer for his club members to try.
He has now started a second club for lovers of Sour Beer.
It runs on the same model as The Imperial Beer Club, with members paying a small annual subscription fee that then allows them to buy the monthly boxes as they become available, and sometimes the monthly boxes are incredibly limited ensuring members are getting something really special.
I thought I’d give the box a try and got hold of their Vault City Tasting Box.
It was absolutely packed with good things to discover, and now I’m looking forward to finding what comes in the next few boxes.
To find out more and to sign up you can follow this lovely link.
Here are some highlights of the box I received:
Vault City Brewing Watermelon Session Sour (4.2%)
Managing to maintain the soft juicy subtleties of fresh watermelon in a beer is pretty good going, I think.
And with this little beer that’s exactly what Vault City have done.
You wouldn’t guess fork the aroma what fruit is in here as the smell is mainly meadow flowers and the tang of farmyards.
The malting is soft and round, with caramel and biscuits creating a creamy body, while the melon sits just under the steely tartness of the hops and yeast.
Peaking out as you drink and adding a lovely juicy bite to the finish.
Vault City Brewing Raspberry Violet (7.1%)
The blend of raspberries and candied violets here is simply lovely.
The raspberries give you lots of deep rich fruit, all pink and fresh and with that particular tang that raspberries have, while the violets add a sensuous floral aroma and a little bit of Parma Violet perfumed sweetness to the end of the beer.
All of this is held up with a honey and brown bread malt body and the earthy bite of Vault City’s yeast.
Vault City Brewing Blackcurrant Lemon Verbena (7.5%)
For me, this is the weakest of the range I’ve been drinking, though that said it is still very good indeed.
Again the malting hides in the background, giving the beer a soft and subtle brown sugar and biscuit sweetness, and that house yeast blend makes the beer feel warm and earthy, with its light;y spiced farmyard flavours.
The blackcurrants are juicy and bitter, tasting like freshly picked hedgerow berries, but to my taste the lemon verbena doesn’t add anything more than a slap of acidity that really isn’t needed here, creating a slightly astringent finish that I’m not a fan off.
Vault City Brewing Pies In The Skies (8.5%)
Now this, boys and girls, this is really clever.
It’s a blend of Vault City’s Double Crust Raspberry Pie and Strawberry Skies beers, and it just works.
Imagine a beautifully baked raspberry and strawberry crumble, add a slosh of booze and decant it into your favourite glass.
This is what you get.
Not so much sour as fresh and tart, the malting tastes and feels like beautifully baked vanilla rich, crumbly shortcrust pastry, with brown sugar, honey and just a dash of salt.
And the vanilla pops up again amongst the fruit, adding a creaminess to the blend of raspberry and strawberry, and balancing the lip puckering acidity of the raspberries with the sweet succulent meaty flesh of the strawberries.
This couple with a warm boozy heart makes for a superb bottle of beer.
Vault City Brewing Mango Inferno (7.2%)
Mixing copious amounts of mango and habanero chilli, this is one of the beers that put Vault City firmly on the modern beer map.
It’s a thick and juicy beer, with a fruit salad aroma that pulls you in.
The malting is light and subtle, a little brown sugar here, a little shortbread biscuit there, and the farmhouse yeast brings a warm earthiness that rounds the beer out.
But boy oh boy, the mango and the chilli together is a thing of beauty.
There’s an almost endless sweet and meaty mango pulp and with each sip, the prickle of chillies popping and exploding on your tongue.
Vault City Brewing Guava Kiwi Melon Mango (10%)
I cannot begin to tell you how fresh and fruity this is.
I can only hint at the sheer weight of fruit salad goodness going on in here.
Let’s whizz quickly through the malting, as it plays an important if very subtle part, loitering in the background with a light biscuity sweetness, the addition of wheat and oats bringing a smooth creaminess to the beer and stopping the mix of fruit and yeast getting too sour.
In fact, this beer is barely sour at all, tart yes, but sour no.
You’ll find a little damp yeasty underbelly providing some warmth alongside the crisp and clean booziness of Dry Gin, but above all else you’ll love the fruit.
The blend is just right, beautifully balanced so that each component plays of the next while creating a fresh fruit sorbet of a finish.
Acid Brewing Cartel Industrial Farmhouse (6.9%)
Brewed in Glasgow and using a yeast obtained from a traditional Norwegian Farmhouse Brewer, this is so tart it feels electrically charged.
The silage and metalwork aroma sets your teeth on edge as the beer pours a cloudy peach and lounges in your glass looking equally sexy and dangerous, its fuzzy head fizzing with life.
The malting is spun sugar sweet, and thickened by runny honey and digestive biscuits, and there’s a bright sharp slap from the Citra and Mandarina hops.
You get lemon and lime zest, tangerines and satsuma flesh just before the stinging metallic, wire wool sharpness hits you right across the face, twisting your tongue and puckering your cheeks.
This is a supercharged Farmhouse beer that’s not for the feint hearted.