Tempest Brewing Co are a Scottish brewer, with their name being a play on the phrase “there’s a tempest brewing”. Founded in 2010 by Gavin Meiklejohn their aim, as their name alludes to, was to whip up a storm in the brewing industry with their big flavours and bold beers. Gavin had trained in New Zealand as a chef, and moved back to the Scottish Borders with his wife to run a local inn. With the locals regularly asking him for locally-brewed beers and being unable to source any, he opened his own brewery in a disused dairy building in Kelso. Whilst this location suited them for the first few years of operation, in 2014 they opted for a new bigger location in Tweedbank, enabling them to produce up to 30 hectolitres of beer.
From their new brewery a slew of different beers were launched. Smoked beers, chilli-infused beers, oyster stouts and more helped to cement Tempest Brewing into the Scottish beer scene, culminating in them winning a Gold in the 2016 Scottish Beer Awards. Sleight of Hand is the first non-alcoholic beer to come from the brewer and was released in early May 2020, following on the coattails of the many other AF bevs released that year. It’s an alcohol-free pale ale, but interestingly in the US and Canada it’s marketed as a ‘sour pale’. It uses Citra and Mosaic hops, both widely used in ales and IPAs for their citrus and tropical flavours and aromas. So, will Sleight of Hand give us a full-flavoured pale ale experience, or have Tempest Brewing used ‘deceitful craftiness’ to hide their beer’s true nature?
Pouring the beer from the 1990s grunge-band album-esque designed can, we get a very pale straw liquid with good clarity and lots of visible carbonation. A nice white head froths up, looking good and dense. Within a minute however it’s receding, and the carbonation is looking a lot less fierce. On the nose we get fresh sweet mandarin and pomelo citrus and a grassy, slightly herbal aroma. A whiff of sweet malted grains finishes it off.
On tasting we get a light malty base, which quickly gets overtaken by citrus, mandarin from the taste but also lemon and lime. And it’s not just bitterness they give, but sourness akin to citric acid. Sleight of Hand is a sour after all! The sourness does level out mid-drink, and lets a more tropical flavour develop, pineapple, with some background sweetness coming through. The beer is very thin and the carbonation is quite aggressive, not really doing anything positive for the mouthfeel. We get a sweet and sour finish to the drink.
Considering I knew of Sleight of Hand’s marketing status Stateside it was still a surprise to me how sour the beer was. But it also wasn’t a sour like I know it, but more a mix between that style and the pale ale they mislead us with on the can. An interesting and refreshing nolo beer, but one that needs to make it’s mind up in my opinion.
Buy Sleight of Hand
Tempest Brewing Co’s beers are usually only available north of the border, but you can pick up Sleight of Hand at the following online shops:
|Nutritional Information (per 100ml, taken from the side of the can)
|Additional nutritional information not given. Boo, hiss!
|Water, Malted Barley, Wheat, Hops, Yeast
|Country of Production
|Tempest Brewing Co – https://www.tempestbrewco.com/
|Yes, according to brewer
Sleight of Hand AF Pale Ale Review
Very zesty light-bodied crossbreed between a sour and a pale ale. Try it, you might like it.