After two weeks of reasonably sensible editions of Raycommendations, a return to form was necessary. An injection of tomfoolery and indulgence was overdue, so alas, I’ve intentionally sampled as many of the zaniest beers to arrive in the past week as my sense of taste can handle, and narrowed it down to three ridiculously fun, different brews. Cue my first Lambic recommendation, a trip to the sweet shop, and some… curry?
3 FONTEINEN – PLATINUM BLEND
A Saturday evening message that my favourite local pooch was in our Putney shop, meant a swift bike ride over, for what I promised myself would be 2 beers and some pup time. Multiple regular customers were in, so chilling, chatting, and cheers-ing them while not on shift was a welcomed occasion. After finishing my intended 2 brews, I chucked my backpack on, and began saying “goodbye’s”, with what to cook for dinner in mind. I had one hand on the door handle when I heard my colleague Daniel shout, “Ray!” I turned to see him donning an ear to ear grin, shrugging with a bottle of 3 Fonteinen’s ‘Oude Gueuze Platinum Blend #57 Season 21|22’ in each hand. Who in their right mind could continue to walk out the door with that offer on the table? Braver men than me. Bright, dry, and tart, with wild yeasty farmhouse funk! A delightful concoction that serves as testament to their notoriety, and was well worth sticking around for.
GREAT NOTION – MANGO FLUFF
One of my oldest friends recently reached out, sending me a picture of a bright yellow can, brandishing a dorky but cute looking lion-like animal, explaining how he found a gem in his home state of Utah, in the form of a mango and cotton candy sour ale. Not two weeks later, our first ever shipment of Great Notion arrived, my introduction to the highly regarded, Oregon-based brewery. Low and behold, that same can my good pal was bragging about and recommending thousands of miles away, arrived here in Southwest London ready for my own personal enjoyment. Wasting no time at all, I sent him a photo and cracked into this gorgeous brew.
‘Mango Fluff’ is one for the sweet tooths. It features pungent aromas of tropical mango, that jump out of the glass and follow through on the palate, alongside sweet candy floss and notes of creamy vanilla ice cream. Imagine drinking a tropical fruit milkshake at an ice cream parlour, and having them tell you it’s 8.4%… You won’t believe how smooth this is, with no sign of any booze at all. Incredibly well made.
TARTARUS – NAGA
When my beer curiosity was in its infancy, I followed in the path of many other craft drinkers, who found New England IPAs as a gateway beer style, always chasing the haziest, juiciest brew possible. Two and a half years later, I still cherish hop bombs, but the oversaturation of the IPA world has made it impossible to keep up with the latest and greatest, and consequently, has turned my sights elsewhere. Do I still love a fruity, full-bodied NEIPA? Of course. Have I had a session in the last two years that didn’t feature one? Almost certainly not. But now I find that its the absurd, bold beers that breweries choose to take on, that properly excite me, and what could be more bonkers than a Thai Green Curry Saison? Enter Tartarus.
Seeing those four words consecutively on a can of beer sent me into a fit of hysteria, laughing at the idea of a Thai Green Curry Saison being pitched in a brewhouse. Who could possibly think of such a thing, let alone follow through and actually churn one out? Tartarus, that’s who. Founded in 2020, the Leeds-based brewery came out of the blocks hot, unafraid to brew ludicrous beers and inject some silliness into the industry. My introduction to them came in the form of a 17% marshmallow stout last year, and have since enjoyed Peanut Butter and Jelly Imperial Stouts (one of my first few Raycommendations), fruited wheat beers, and other zany brews from them, but none crazier than this ‘Naga’. They have absolutely knocked this out of the park, as it somehow tastes and smells so vividly similar to a Thai Green Curry. Made with lemongrass, Kaffir lime leaves, chili, and coconut, which are all evident on the palate, over a characteristically dry, spicy Saison yeasty foundation. Hats off to them. It won’t be for everyone, but fans of outrageous like myself rejoice.