There are very few things we grown that are better than rhubarb. It virtually looks after itself, pumps out huge yields year after year and has a great flavour unlike any other foodstuff. It’s also one of our favourite ingredients for booze. It makes one of the easiest and tastiest wines and can be used for a range of superb liqueurs. We even brewed a beer with it. At the time we had never tasted, or even heard of, a rhubarb beer, but we were so confident of its affinity to all things boozy that we added a load to a malty, beery recipe. It came out great – turning an otherwise ordinary brew into something mysteriously sour and fruity.
A few weeks ago, while shopping for beer online, I came across a commercially available rhubarb beer. In an instant I clicked the link that added it to my basket. The beer, Rhub’IPA, is more unusual for being a collaborative effort between a French and Norwegian brewery, and comes in a swing top bottle – an extra recycling bonus for us home brewers. Flipping the lid produced a satisfying ‘pop’ and the unmistakable whiff of rhubarb.
It’s a very pale coloured beer with a slight haze and lovely, fluffy, clingy head – my finely tuned rhubarb senses immediately call to mind the well whisked top of a rhubarb meringue.
The first taste is earthy, yeasty and beery – more like a Belgian blonde ale that has been roughed up by some new world hops than a regular IPA. This initial taste is swiftly followed by a big bomb of sweet and sharp sorbet flavours and a long bitter finish. Like a menthol sweet, the rhubarb flavours didn’t just exist on the palette but chugged its way through my sinuses, leaving behind fruity acidic scorch marks long after the beeriness had gone.
Rhub’IPA is unlikely to be to everyone’s taste, but it’s a decent beer and if, like us, you’re a rhubaholic then it’s well worth checking out.
Available from www.beermerchants.com