Brewgooder Barrel Aged Whisky Sour

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Brewgooder was founded on the principle that we can do good by drinking delicious beer. With every sip, drinkers help to better the lives of others. For every can or bottle consumed, Brewgooder are committed to ensuring that 100 times that amount will be provided in clean water projects undertaken by partner, Charity Water.

It all began in 2012 when Alan Mahon visited Nepal. During the trip, Mahon contracted a virus from drinking contaminated water. Following his recovery, he decided to dedicate his career to fighting poverty. A few years later he met James Hughes and the two bonded over their love of beer. Soon they had begun to imagine a beer company that would allow drinkers to make a positive contribution with each can sipped. After Alan’s experience in Nepal, they decided they should support clean water projects.

Brewgooder launched on World Water Day 2016. Since then they have worked on numerous projects. Much of the work has focussed on Malawi, one of the most densely populated areas in Africa where climate change and population growth have vastly diminished the water supply. The first saw them fund a solar-powered water tank that feeds a nursery school in Chiluzi. This was followed by the development of a new water point in Waluma and the repair of a vandalised bore hole in Pindani village.

More than 140 projects have been funded, 100,000,000 litres of water have been unlocked and 155,920 lives positively impacted. That’s not bad for a humble beer company.

Brewgooder has also been B Corp accredited since 2018, meaning they contribute to reduced inequality, lower levels of poverty, a healthier environment, stronger communities and the creation of high quality jobs with dignity and purpose.


Vault City

To create the beer featured in this article, Brewgooder worked with two partners. The first is Vault City Brewery in Edinburgh.

Vault City make fruit-forward sour beers from their brewery in Edinburgh. Originally based in a Murrayfield kitchen, the Vault City team moved to Dundee for a short while before returning to Edinburgh with a new Portobello brewery in 2021.

Brewery co-founder Steve Smith-Hay met with Alan Mahon of Brewgooder to discuss the possibility of a collaboration. The idea for a whisky barrel aged sour brought up the potential of bringing in a third partner and who better than Brewgooder’s fellow B Corp recipient, Bruichladdich.


The Beer

The beer recipe includes Heather Honey from the Scottish Bee Company and hand-picked lemon balm from the Islay countryside. The brew then spent 9 months ageing in casks that had previously been used to mature spirit for the Classic Laddie.

At £12 a bottle it certainly wasn’t cheap and Vault City made the prospect a little less appealing by whacking a ridiculous £6 delivery charge on – even though I was only ordering a single beer. Where the beer itself is concerned, I don’t grudge them it. Not only is it an interesting concoction the likes of which you’re unlikely to find anywhere else, it’s also going to a very good cause. Every litre of beer sold will fund 1,000 litres of clean water to communities around the world. On those terms, the price begins to look a bit of a bargain.

Notes: Lovely looking beer with an orangey hue and opaque appearance. Lovely malty aroma with plenty of lemony fresh scent. Lots of citrus. Hints of the sourness to come.

The first sip delivers sweet, honeyed malt at the tip of the tongue before the lemony zing makes its presence felt further on. Reminds me of Strepsil throat lozenges with all the honey, lemon and eucalyptus. It’s sour of course. Like the meeting point between beer and Haribo Tangfastic sweets. Depth is provided by some oak notes. A touch of toffee under all the acidity. It’s an unusual combination of flavours but I think it works.

This kind of beer certainly isn’t for everyone. If you don’t enjoy that sensation of your mouth sucking in, this probably won’t be the pour for you. Personally, I enjoy a sour. Especially in the warm summer months. Though this is going down pretty well in December, right enough.

11% is a good bottling strength as well, giving plenty of intensity to the flavour. What’s interesting is the weight of it. Sometimes sour beers can feel a bit delicate but there’s some body here.

It’s a fine beer, actually. Not totally convinced how much of the Laddie influence I picked up but you can certainly feel the oak.

Not much I can really say about value for money other than I’ve paid similar amounts for beers in the past and been left disappointed. There’s nothing disappointing about this one. Yes, it’s pricey but it’s for a good cause so we can forgive that.

Not for everyone but a good example of a sour beer with some unusual characteristics. Glad I bought it, though I still think £6 delivery on a single beer was a bit of a rip off!


For more on Brewgooder visit here

For more on Vault City visit here

For more on Bruichladdich visit here


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