Food & Drink

Craft beer: These beers are Poles apart

Tortuga is 4.5 per cent fruited gose from Browar Stu Mostow
Tortuga is 4.5 per cent fruited gose from Browar Stu Mostow Tortuga is 4.5 per cent fruited gose from Browar Stu Mostow
The market square in Krakow, Poland at sunset
The market square in Krakow, Poland at sunset The market square in Krakow, Poland at sunset

MY ONE and only visit to Poland was a short break to Krakow. That was about 15 years ago and, back then, most of the traffic was from east to west.

Many Poles have now settled and enriched this part of the world, but I was pleasantly surprised at the charm offered by Krakow, wondering why so many had travelled to Ireland in search of prosperity.

Of course, things aren’t as cut and dried as that, although the economic minutiae of the situation wasn’t something I dwelt on as we ambled around the cobbled streets.

One of the places which was on the must-visit list was a salt mine just outside the city. A long and slow descent was worth it to view the breathtaking salt sculptures deep below the surface, which included a fully-functioning church for the devout workers.

There is a gift shop and café, although I resisted the urge to ask for a bit of salt for my plate of chips – I’d say that joke is as old as the mine as itself.

Tortuga is 4.5 per cent fruited gose from Browar Stu Mostow
Tortuga is 4.5 per cent fruited gose from Browar Stu Mostow Tortuga is 4.5 per cent fruited gose from Browar Stu Mostow

However, it’s clear that there is a fair bit of salt in Poland, which is handy if you are the sort of brewery that likes to produce gose beers.

That description fits Browar Stu Mostow, which is based in Wroclaw. One of the beers of theirs I managed to get my hands on was Tortuga, a fruited gose which clocks in at 4.5 per cent.

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Adding fruit to a gose can warp the colour somewhat, but in this case, the addition of passionfruit, pin guava and calamansi (it’s a like a wee orange) don’t seem to have done much to switch the appearance of the sort of light amber colour which could pass for a pale ale or hazy IPA.

Of course, the aroma suggests otherwise, with that salty edge poking through as well as some fresh citrus smells.

On the palate, the initial fruity flavours flood through, before the sourness takes a firm grip and then there’s that little salty bite at the finish.

Lip-smacking and refreshing, with a moreish edge, it’s a well-crafted gose.

American Uncle is an 8 per cent black IPA from Browar Stu Mostow
American Uncle is an 8 per cent black IPA from Browar Stu Mostow American Uncle is an 8 per cent black IPA from Browar Stu Mostow

Browar Stu Mostow translates to "the brewery of the 100 bridges", but I don’t think even that would be enough to traverse the Atlantic Ocean, where the inspiration for American Uncle – a hefty black IPA – came from.

Hefty, because it clocks in at 8 per cent abv, a fact I wasn’t aware until I had consumed it.

It did pack a punch, but the strength wasn't that obvious to those ignorant of it.

Like a lot of black IPAs, this pours like a stout – jet black with a tan head but differs in the hoppy bitterness it provides.

There’s a few of those coffee and chocolate aromas you get from a beer featuring roasted malt, but they don’t dominate the palate - instead, you get some fruity and slightly floral flavours.