Edit: It’s probably worth reading this in combination with On Ageing…; in short, the issues I mention below were age and/or condition related – in a good state, the beer is excellent!
Fourpure are one of the Bermondsey Breweries; that strange cluster of beermongers nestling under the railway line out of London Bridge. They’re a little further down the line than most, and are actually based in an industrial unit rather than directly under the arches.
They started brewing last year, and at the time of review have these five regular beers in their range.
The range is certainly attractively put together, although it’s a little disappointing to see small 330ml bottles used for what isn’t particularly strong beer.
I start with their 5.0% Pale Ale, which is a surprisingly deep amber colour for a pale. It’s flat in the glass, with no head and not even much in the way of rising bubbles.
The nose is gently toffee sweet, with a few delicate orange citrus hop aromas and just a hint of alcohol beneath it all but everything is quite restrained.
In the mouth, there’s significantly more fizz than I’m expecting from the look of it; some nondescript sweetness that is joined by a somewhat indistinct bitterness, and lurking in the background is a slight acidity. There are some very faint blossom honey notes struggling to get out, but they’re hard to find.
It’s perfectly drinkable, but unremarkable – the flavours hinted at on the nose fail to put in much of an appearance in the mouth, and the flatness and mild acidity have me wondering if I’ve just hit a bad bottle.
On to the Amber Ale, fractionally stronger at 5.1% and again, darker than the name implies. More of a red ale to my eyes, it’s almost the colour of tawny port, with a thin ring of head clinging to the edge of the glass.
The nose has some richness to it; golden syrup mixes with redcurrant fruit and a hint of cherry blossom but underneath there’s a faintly metallic impression.
A nice foam in the mouth, and a slightly syrupy sweetness that is well enough controlled to avoid becoming sticky. Acidic red fruit comes in with a gentle bitterness to balance the sweetness nicely, making it an easy drinking beer.
The flavours are not what I’m expecting from a bottle citing Colorado as an inspiration and Cascade as one of their main flavour hops – this is (I hope Fourpure don’t mind me saying) quite a European tasting beer.
The Session IPA is a restrained 4.2% ABV, pale amber in colour with another thin, fine head.
The nose is well hopped, with sweet citrus notes and a touch of honey – not an overwhelming aroma, but perfectly decent.
In the mouth, however, much of that promised flavour is lost. There’s a nice enough fizz, a little sweetness and some bland bitterness towards the end, but there’s none of the punch, none of the fruit that I was expecting. Slightly disappointing.
The IPA is a more heavyweight beer, at 6.5% ABV. It has a distinctly reddish copper colour and very little head.
The aroma is generously full of floral hops, with sharp lemon zest, a touch of sugar sweetness, and just a hint of pine resin. Over time, the hops fade to reveal a slightly toffee tone.
The beer is gently foamy in the mouth, with an initially sticky sweet character. Some orange fruit flavours come through before a big, resinous bitter hit from the hops washes that all away and leads to a tannic finish.
Overall, it’s a pretty decent American IPA, although it feels a little unbalanced.
Finally we reach the Oatmeal Stout at 5.1% ABV. It’s a proper black stout, with a deep, dark tan head that sadly doesn’t linger for long.
The nose is great – full of toasted cereal, sticky molasses, and just a hint of liquorice. There are bitter cocoa nibs too, lurking underneath.
Sadly, the taste is another story. The first impression is a burnt bitterness, and behind that is a nice, toasted cereal character but overwhelmingly the flavour is sour – sufficiently sour that I don’t finish the glass.
It’s always disappointing to get a bad bottle, and especially so when the nose has been so tempting.
Overall, it’s a mixed bag from Fourpure. With the exception of the stout, none of the beers are bad but across the range, they smell better than they taste – the flavours often quite muted.