Friday, 29 March 2013

Compass Brewery - Torp 7%

I picked this bottle up on a whim in Favourite Beers in Cheltenham recently. We were staying with my sister-in-law in Oxfordshire and were on our way back from a trip to Gloucester and the Gloucester brewery with a selection of beers from whom I plan to review some time in the not-too-distant future. I really wanted something from Oxfordshire (my sister-in law lives in Bicester) and the label description really caught my attention:
"Exploring the flavour of seasonally brewed top-fermented beers from Northern France and Belgium, the result became Torp. Four malts, balanced with French and Polish hops. Funky Belgian yeast."
That was enough for me. Purchase made.
Compass Brewery was founded in 2009 by Mattias Sjoberg, a Swede from a town south of Stockholm, a keen home brewer with a degree in Brewing and Distilling from Heriot-Watt University. When his employer, Scottish and Newcastle, closed their Reading brewery he decided that the time was right to bring to fruition an idea that he'd had for some time.
Incidentally, the name 'Torp' is Swedish for Croft.
It pours a lovely burnt orange colour with a spritzy white head, but this quickly fades before disappearing completely. I was expecting a saison from the notes on the brewery website , and there are some sour notes in the aroma, but also some toffee apple sauce, nutmeg and a touch of roasted pineapple. Prickly over the tongue from the carbonation, a sour green apple and lemon taste (here's the saison) hits hard and fast, followed by an immediate wash through by a delicious chewy caramel with fig and prune. This is followed up with sweet/sour pear drop, aniseed, white pepper and warming Calvados. The finish slides off into a sweet pastry case shallow-filled with creme patissiere and fresh strawberries, which I really wasn't expecting.
Whilst I've had beers that share similarities with Torp, I've not had one quite like it. I really like this beer but I can see that it won't be for everyone, the sour taste gets a little getting used to. If you see bottles of some of the other Compass beers though you might want to give them a go, I highly recommend them.
As an aside, the more astute of you may notice that my previous review was of a beer with the word 'Torpedo' on the label and this is of a beer called 'Torp'. I am as yet unaware of a beer called 'To', however if you know of such a beer and you want to send me a bottle then I'll happily review it.

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