Rainbow Project 2019
After deciding to swerve the 2018 version of the Rainbow Project, despite the promise of barrel-aged goodness, we’re back for 2019 and a lot has changed.
Bristol brewery Left Handed Giant have been passed the rainbow coloured torch from original creators Siren to manage the Rainbow Project. You can read the announcement here, but this part was most pertinent to me:
I really like the direction this project is heading in. I’m not sure how 2018’s box fared but 2017 was a lacklustre affair so I’m really pleased to see the project continuing with newer breweries rather than dying. And by passing on the rainbow baton every 3 years to a new, smaller brewery, it keeps the project fresh and hopefully more interesting. Either way, it was enough for me to buy the box again so here we are.
This year the line-up of breweries and their given colours looks like this:
RED - North Brewing Co. (Leeds) x Fieldwork Brewing (Berkeley, CA)
ORANGE - Track Brewing Co. (Manchester) x Highland Park Brewery (Los Angeles, CA)
YELLOW - Burnt Mill Brewery (Suffolk) x Cascade Brewing (Portland, OR)
GREEN - Deya Brewing Company (Cheltenham) x Holy Mountain (Seattle, WA)
BLUE - Left Handed Giant (Bristol) x Alesong Brewing & Blending (Eugene, OR)
INDIGO - Verdant Brewing Co. (Falmouth) x Temescal Brewing (Oakland, CA)
VIOLET - Unity Brewing Co. (Southampton) x Alvarado Street Brewery (Monterey, CA)
PLUS, a bonus 8th multi-coloured beer brewed by the six UK breweries. Much better than another glass!
Lots of our UK favourites collaborating with their US counterparts to hopefully make some interesting beers.
Let’s see if they lived up to their promise, with the usual Expectations vs. Reality style reviews.
Frontier Psychiatrist - Fruited IPA 7% // Northern Monk x Track
What they say: A deep, rich IPA hopped with Citra, Galaxy & Sabro giving huge notes of Mango & Coconut elevated by additions of Flaked Coconut, Passionfruit, Grapefruit Zest & Vanilla, all tied together with Dragonfruit giving this beer its red hue.
Expectations: The dreaded C word rears its head. I mean, at least it’s not coriander but coconut does not belong in a beer unless it’s a stout. I’m hoping it’s a subtle hit of it but sabro hops are quite coconutty and the addition of flaked coconut means I’m not expecting to like this unless the other ingredients somehow overpower them. Here’s hoping.
Reality: Almost! Firstly, the beer pours with a lovely little red tint to it which I liked as a nod to their colour designation. Unfortunately, the beer is very heavy on the coconut. Fortunately, the other flavours means that it’s not a total disappointment. It’s a really decent beer and very well made. The initial taste is lovely a fruity but then it clears and you’re left with the gross coconut. If you like coconut then you’ll love this but it’s just a decent beer rather than exceptional.
Golden Milk - Fruited Sour 6% // North x Fieldwork
What they say: A 6% sour beer brewed with a 20% grist of naked + rolled oats, 15kg of fresh peeled Turmeric in the whirlpool, Cinnamon in the boil, Coconut in the mash, whirlpool and fermentor and then triple fruited with 1.2 tons of apricot.
Expectations: North are well known for their triple fruited goses (gosei?) so I’m looking forward to this. Coconut rears its head again but hopefully the other big ingredients kill it dead. Please.
Reality: Yes! This is great. It’s very thick due to the oat addition and the colossal lashings of apricots make this beer a real beaut. It has a lovely subtle spice kick to it from the turmeric and cinnamon but it is really well balanced. Also, it’s very orange! Ticks all the boxes for what a rainbow beer should be. Well played.
Panacea - American IPA 7% // Burnt Mill x Cascade
What they say: An IPA dry hopped with Lemondrop & Citra, rounded out with ginger, chamomile & local honey.
Expectations: No coconut! Praise be. I’m expecting a fairly decent IPA here with the two breweries being involved. I could do without the extra spices though. Just give me hops!
Reality: Thankfully the adjuncts are quite subtle. This is just a really good IPA. Quite a sweet finish but just GOOD. I saw this away in very little time. Delicious.
Emerald Visions - Witbier 5.5% // DEYA x Holy Mountain
What they say: A Wit with the addition of heaps of lime.
Expectations: Thanks for the really in-depth description, DEYA/Holy Mountain! In saying that, I’m really intrigued by this and not just because of the vague description. I like a witbier from time to time and the addition of a boatload of limes means I’m extra eager to try this to see if the fruity twist gives it an added dimension.
Reality: This was certainly different. It almost didn’t taste like beer. It was super refreshing and I sort of wish it was boiling hot so I’d appreciate it more. I’d probably drink it again but I’m in no great rush.
Why I Love the Moon - Gose 6.2% // Left Handed Giant x Alesong
What they say: Blueberry Gose with the addition of hand picked, local, Borage flowers and Oregon sea salt.
Expectations: Bloody love me a gose. A borage flower is apparently a starflower. That doesn’t really make it any clearer. It is meant to taste like a cucumber so it being in a gose makes sense. Add a sprinkling of salt and this sounds like a classic sour that I’ll enjoy.
Reality: Excuse the bubbles at the bottom of the glass. I rinsed the glass in between the green and blue beers in a hurry. What a beautiful colour. And what a beautiful beer. This isn’t very sour, it’s super fruity and has a great salty finish that lingers around for a bit. No idea how this is over six percent because it drinks like 4%. Very good.
Indigo Tie-Dye Wolf T-Shirt - Stout 8.8% // Verdant x Temescal
What they say: A strong stout inspired by Baklava the wonderful sweet of the east. Sticky and nutty from Pistachios along side flavours of Cinnamon and Rose.
Expectations: Happy to see a stout in the box. Less happy it’s Baklava inspired. I don’t mind Baklava but cinnamon and rose in a beer doesn’t sound very appealing to me. I’ll take the pistachios all day so hopefully they’ve chucked more of those in than the cinnamon and rose.
Reality: There’s a really good beer in here but it just misses the mark for me. It lacks in body a little but and, as I’d feared, the cinnamon and rose are at the forefront. The pistachio does come through a little but not enough to save it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a decent beer but I was hoping for a little more. I haven’t had any Temescal beers that I know of but I’ve had a few Verdant stouts that I absolutely loved so maybe my expectations were too high.
Tech-Noir - Porter 5% // Unity x Alvarado Street
What they say: While trying to figure out what violet tastes like, we brewed a sour oatmeal porter with blueberry and vanilla. Inspired by the juxtaposition of dark nostalgic sci-fi and warm, fluffy, familiar flavours.
Expectations: I’m not sure I’ve had a sour porter before. If I have I can’t remember. Blueberry and vanilla are great flavours for a dark beer though and the addition of a sourness might make for an interesting beer.
Reality: This is pretty good. It’s only slightly sour which allows the blueberries to shine through with a hint of sharpness. Once that dissipates, you’re left with a roasted, vanilla, fruity tang which is delicious. As the nights get darker and the weather turns colder, this is a lovely warming beer. It feels stronger than 5% because of the big flavours.
Colour Vision - IPA 7% // LHG x Track x DEYA x Verdant x Unity x Burnt Mill x North
What they say: 7 colours of the Rainbow, 7 great international collaborations, but the boxes we ordered to ship the beers in had 8 slots.....We therefore all got together to brew a one off 7 way collaboration to celebrate the project.
This beer was brewed to celebrate the spirit of the Rainbow Project. Brewed with a heavy dry hop of Galaxy, Loral, Mosaic and Voss Kveik yeast.
Expectations: A fairly straight up pale ale to round of proceedings. Pretty much all seven of the breweries are top drawer hop magicians so this is undoubtedly going to be a banger.
Reality: Yeah, what a perfect end to the box this year. This is light and fluffy and soft and juicy and fruity and delicious. Very enjoyable. Would drink ten of these.
The Rainbow Project is back with a vengeance - a very good collection of beers that I’d happily drink all over again. I was particularly pleased to see an extra beer included in the box (stands to reason when a box holds eight beers!). Roll on 2020 - the bar has been set high again.