Best new beers of 2013…Fyne/Wild Cool as a Cucumber


The next in the lineup of best new British beers of 2013 (in order of release) was the beery equivalent of that upbeat disco track that DJ’s claim becomes ‘the song of the summer’ (if that still happens, it’s been a while since I listened to ‘the charts’). Basically, it came out of nowhere to become the perfect warm-weather cooler…

Cool as a Cucumber (2.9%)
Fyne Ales, Argyll / Wild Beer Co, Somerset (collaboration)
(cask, keg, bottle, June)

Not since the arrival of Bloody ‘Ell, Beavertown’s blood orange IPA, had I been more intrigued at the pouring of a beer. That one turned out not to be the expected dark ruby, although it was seriously nice stuff. So, would a cucumber beer actually be green? Racking my brains, I think I’ve had only one actual, bona fide green beer before; Bourganel Bière a la Verveine du Velay, a French liqueur-inspired mouthwash-clone we tried a year and a half ago. Would Cool as a Cucumber come out a similar hue? And would it do as suggested, and lower the heat levels in the (at the time) sticky, sweltering city?

Well, no and yes. It was certainly cool, but orange, not green (in the end, probably a good thing). What was even better about it was that it was the perfect alignment of context – something I always, always go on about. Try something that jars with where you are, or what mood you’re in, and it’s already behind, playing catch-up. The moment I first got hold of the collaboration from Fyne Ales and Wild Beer Co was possibly the best drinking moment (if I can get a little pseudy) of 2013. A massively warm day, long tacky bus ride from work, and parched tongue meeting the cool, quiet Bow Bar, and a chilled keg pour of cucumber beer. Not quite Ice Cold in Alex, but you get the idea.

A saison brewed with mint (in the boil), and then 93 chopped, peeled and de-seeded cucumbers (in the fermenter), Brettanomyces was then added to tart things up a little. On a blistering afternoon, downed in fast, tooth-numbing swallows, it revived me instantly. The only comparison I can make would be to quickly eat a chilled cucumber salad. There wasn’t a huge amount of mint, but the cucumber was hugely noticeable at the front, leading to a slight yeasty edge as the saison elements came out on the aftertaste. I talked on Monday about “Ooh, wow” beers – Fyne and Wild’s Cool as a Cucumber was the Wow beer of 2013.

The fifth selection (out of six) of the best new British beers of 2013 will be revealed tomorrow, head back then to discover what that particular beer was. Guardian drinks writer Fiona Beckett deservedly made Cool as a Cucumber her Beer of the Week back in early August; let’s hope the next collaboration between Fyne Ales and Wild Beer Co will be just as well received.

8 thoughts on “Best new beers of 2013…Fyne/Wild Cool as a Cucumber”

  1. I loved that beer, but I doubt that I’d drink it in December 🙂 …

    and if you don’t like pickles in your Big Mac maybe it’s not for you.

    But definitely one of the best things I tasted this year.

  2. Had this beer on keg and bottle over summer, really enjoyed it! Got a bottle I’m keeping for next summer, it’ll be interesting to see what the brett has done to it by then!

  3. I have to disagree. I love what these guys do, but this beer was not what I had hoped for. A lack of body, meant that this felt like a homeopathic beer. The memory of a flavour is not a flavour. More body, more texture and more guts please! How about “dry minting”?

  4. I was so disappointed by this beer. I liked the idea of the cucumber and mint, but thought it tasted sickly and weak. However,, context is everything. I drank it on a chilly, damp night at home – totally different to Rich’s ‘ice cold in the bow bar’ experience. Makes a big difference.

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