ALTHOUGH I've never been a slave to drinking certain styles at particular times of the year, I can see that there is a certain logic to drinking light and bright coloured beers in the summer and heavier, dark numbers in the winter months.
However, good beer is good beer at any time of the year, and although sours might find a natural home in the summer, that is often the shortest season in this part of the world.
In fact if you're waiting around for the summer in Scotland of all places, there's a fair chance that you'll blink and miss it. That's why, when I picked up a couple of sours from Edinburgh-based Vault City in the Drink Link in Newry last week, I wasn't going to wait for the sun to make appearance before cracking them open – and I'm glad I didn't.
Vault City specialise in sours and first up was Cloudy Lemonade, a 4.2 per cent offering made with Citra and Nelson Sauvin. They've also used a bit of fresh lemon juice to add that zesty feel to it and the mixed fermentation gives it a sharp and sour finish.
The name gives a hint as to the look of the beer in the glass. There's plenty of citrus and white wine notes from the hops and a lingering feel of lemon sherbert from this refreshing beer which, thankfully, isn't dependent on a blazing hot summer's day.
Next up is Strawberry Sundae, a 5 per cent pastry stout which jam-packed full of flavour. It's a decidedly moreish beer which almost disappeared in a few gulps, belying the fair robust 5 per cent abv.
It pours a cloudy, reddish hue and has strong aromas of fresh strawberries. Of course, Scotland is famed for its strawberries, so this beer gets to showcase them in abundance. The lactose and vanilla bring the 'sundae' element to the party, giving this a sweet and creamy feel.
It almost has the feel of a smoothie about it, such is the thick and fruity profile and the sourness lends it hints of rhubarb too.