Craft Beer: Lacada's Up The Dunes is a berry nice North Coast brew
DEFINING beer brewed in microbreweries has been a vaguely controversial issue within the beer community, both among drinkers and producers.
First it was, 'Well, what really is craft anyway?' and then there is the argument that it should simply be labelled 'independent beer' to reinforce the idea that producers are free to brew whatever takes their fancy and not what some suit is going to tell them is best for the bottom line.
Speaking to one brewer a few years ago, he seemed to favour the term 'local beer'. I suppose it works as a counterbalance to the mass-produced European lagers, masquerading as authentically Danish, Dutch or German, but which are more likely to be knocked out in the Home Counties of England.
So if we're talking about 'local', there are few breweries who embrace that concept more than Lacada.
The Portrush-based producers take inspiration from their north coast landscape in the naming of many of their beers, but in one of their latest brews, they have taken a physical chunk out of the local area to create an intriguing concoction.
Up The Dunes is a 4.8 per cent German-style gose brewed with Sea Buckthorn and Mussenden Sea Salt. I'm not quite sure how much the sea salt from around Mussenden differs from other varieties, but given that a gose traditionally has a salty flavour, it's a perfect fit for this one.
What is less traditional is the addition of Sea Buckthorn, a wild, yellowy-orange berry found along the North Coast beaches.
While the effect of the sea salt can be guessed at, the berries are slightly more intriguing, contributing to everything from the look to the smell and taste.
The look is quite striking – it pours a virtually opaque, bright orange colour, almost like freshly squeezed orange juice.
There are slightly fruity aromas, but it leans towards sour and salty on the nose and it isn't until you dive straight that you get the sense of how complex this beer is – and if it's even a beer at all (spoiler: it contains water, barley, hops and yeast, so yes it is a beer).
The berries do a bang up job of balancing out the sourness and saltiness and there's even a hint of bready malty, something like a sandy sandwich on Portstewart beach.
There's still enough gose character in it to make it lip-smackingly refreshing and a seltzer-like effervescence that tingles on the palate but the berries give it a tangy richness.