In 2017, Wildflower Brewing & Blending launched in Marrickville, Sydney. Amber is one of their three core beers. While it’s essentially the same base beer, the character varies across different blends.
Obviously, everyone’s taste is subjective and I will be subjective in my analysis. That makes me all the more interested in what you have to say. So please leave a comment and share your own notes on each blend.
Beer as a shared experience is part of Topher Boehm’s philosophy. That shared experience can extend online.
Think of this as an documentary exercise. I’m keen to track the journey of one of the most exciting beer operations in Sydney right now. These notes will be taken after tasting the beer relatively fresh after release. Obviously, these beers will change and evolve over time. The best place to buy bottles is at the Wildflower cellar door in Marrickville.
Blend #2 – 7 April 2017
I’m reluctant to reference anything Belgian (these are Australian wild ales after all) but this has something which will connect with fans of Flanders Red style beers.
The colour is possibly a tiny bit more rouge than the first blend. It’s a beautiful looking beer and I thought so as soon as I first saw the beer hit the glass at the opening of Wildflower’s cellar door.
It isn’t as overtly sour on the nose as the first blend and overall it seems far more integrated. Each component; the rusty malt bill, the waves of yeast character, seem more harmonious than before.
There are notes of cherry and tree bark, Chardonnay and white pepper. It’s fruity and has less of the barnyard about it. It’s just a whisker sweeter than the first blend.
It’s delicious with smoked ham and nutty cheese.
Blend #3 – 15 May 2017
The third blend of Amber presents with a touch more earthiness on the nose. There’s something of the damp forest floor to it. The colour is similar to previous blends, showcasing perhaps a shade more clarity in the liquid.
As it comes up to temperature it develops a well-rounded fruitiness similar to blend #2. A woody cherry flavour, intermingle with lighter berries, bringing the high and low notes into harmony.
Topher Boehm noted on the release of this blend that he was unable to distinguish this from the previous blend during blind tastings. He did, however, write that he expected them to diverge as they matured.
While this beer is still young, it has a beautiful roundness that lends it a drinkability. It could sit alongside a range of food and not steal the attention which is exactly what you want from this type of beer.
Blend #4 – 15 June 2017
Number four in the series of Amber blends shows considerably more tartness from the start when compared to previous iterations.
It evokes a traditional Flanders Red style but with a discernible yeast characteristic that’s emblematic of the Wildflower stable. As it opens there’s a certain woodiness to it but it combines with the ester profile to create something that’s both complex and approachable.
As with previous blends, it retains an earthiness, with some dew-soaked grass and an herbaceous quality as it rises a degree or two. The striking thing about this blend is how easy it is to quaff down without realising. A generous pour in a wine glass is going to keep people very happy.
It goes nicely with pork and cabbage dumplings.
Blend #5 – 4 July 2017
The fifth blend of Amber carries a delicious yeasty sediment in the bottle.
Following the example of the previous blend, this beer is increasingly like a Flanders red. It’s lighter bodied than some of the releases so far and holds less of a reddish-amber colour but looks more cloudy, more opaque. This might be down to the yeast content.
There’s an assertive, almost dominant, tartness that provides a layer of palate cleansing refreshment. This cuts through an initial grassy, straw-like funk.
Savoury characters come to the fore as the beer warms in the glass, flowing into a herbaceousness that has a reassuring farmhouse quality.
Carbonation persists in the glass under a frothy dirty-white head. This really lifts the complexity of the aromas out of the glass and, combined with the acidity, creates a beer which is remarkably refreshing for the variety of flavours it presents.
Blend #6 – 2 August 2017
The sharpness is immediately evident in blend #6. It’s tart up front but in a cleaner and crisper way than the woody, earthy sourness that blends #4 and #5 presented. This iteration shows less of the Flanders Red characteristics and more citric acidity on top of bold, sour cherries.
It holds a deep ruby redness in the glass which provokes thoughts of juicy overripe cherries, and other red berries such as cranberries or lingonberry jam.
The mouthfeel is silky, there’s less grist in the the flavour and this gives the impression of a lighter body.
It’s a beautifully elegant and rounded, fruity blend, the overall experience of which is quite different to the previous version.
Blend #7 – 30 August 2017
Amber #7 shows a pickled onion acidity both on the nose and on the palate. There’s a sharpness up front, which comes through as red berries as it opens up. There’s less of the prominent cherry and sappy tree branch character of previous versions. Instead, there’s a more robust grist component to the beer which lends a depth of flavour and a rounded, full-bodied feel.
There’s a deep, sweet earthiness that evokes damp organic matter in the low notes and dark, grainy bread or burnt, nutty biscuits in the high notes.
The sensation it provides is silky but less so than the previous iteration. Overall, it’s an intriguing meander away from recent blends.
Blend #8 – 13 October 2017
The eighth blend of Wildflower Amber presents a more prominent wood character than previously. There is tree bark which rounds into juicy Morello cherries.
Sweeter red berries make up a large component of the flavour profile in this blend. Providing the bass notes to the fruity high notes is some burnt sugar and brittle dark caramel or brandy snap biscuits.
It’s softer on the palate than some of the silkier Flanders Red influenced blends we’ve seen recently.
There’s almost a Cherry Ripe quality lurking underneath, provided by a serendipitous combination of light woody notes emulating coconut, the obvious cherry characteristic, and a very subtle bitter chocolate flavour at the core of the beer.
This blend opens into a mellow, rounded cherry, which is balanced and elegant with some length. It would go wonderfully with a chocolate mousse dessert with raspberry coulis.
Blend #8 of Wildflower Amber is complex and quite removed from other versions. It’s a new direction for this beer and one that tastes bigger and more impacting on the palate.
Blend #9 – November 2017
The ninth blend in the Wildflower Amber series present with more prominent wood throughout. There’s some cherry up front, building on characteristics found in other recent blends, and this lingers into the mid-palate. The woodiness is dark wood and combines delightfully with roasted grain and some very subtle dark chocolate.
It’s perhaps a bit more savoury and herbal than previous blends and builds to a more tannic finish. This is tempered by a pickled onion acidity that arrives at the back of the palate in just the right measure.
Blend #9 is another slight deviation from the character of the last few blends. It’s less dessert-like and while cherry is still present in the flavour, it’s not as strong. It’s an intriguing blend and one for which it would be interesting to see how it develops in the bottle over time.
The aim here is for an ongoing log of tasting notes for each Wildflower Amber blend. It’s an exciting beer in the Sydney landscape and one that has an interesting future ahead.
Add your thoughts in the comments below. Share your tasting notes, your experiences and your favourites.