Wu Gang Chops the Tree is an unusual name but, in fairness, it is an unusual beer. A hazy, pale yellow in colour, this beer smells bready sweet with pear and spiced clove notes. Its wheaty, thick mouthfeel plays well with the banana flavours, leading to a complex, spiced and herbaceous finish. Wu Gang is vegan friendly and contains gluten.
I have a soft spot for beers with ridiculous names. Does it make them difficult to say when you’re ordering at a bar? Yes. Does it make you look like a bit of a tosser when you order one? Absolutely. Does that make me love them any less? Of course not.
Wu Gang Chops the Tree is one such bonkers name. It comes from a Chinese folk tale, not unlike the story of Sisyphus: for a range of different reasons, depending on which version of the tale you read, Wu Gang is sentenced to cut down a tree on the moon. With every blow of his axe, the tree heals, leaving him to cut down this tree forever.
Reading this tale sent me down a rabbit hole thinking about whether the moon’s weaker gravity would make it easier or harder to chop a tree down. We’re not going into that here. What we are doing is taking a closer look at this beer.
It comes from Pressure Drop, another London brewery based up in Tottenham. Apparently this is the third beer they ever made on their new Pressure Drop kit. The foraged herb in this Hefeweisse is bay leaf, which I’m expecting to add a savoury note to an otherwise fairly light and sweet beer.
The label is gorgeous, like pretty much every beer from Pressure Drop. The can tells a story as you spin it around, painted in blue and white like a willow patterned plate.
We’re greeted with a hazy, pale yellow beer with a thin, white head. The aroma is intensely sweet and bready, not a surprise for a Hefeweisse, but there are sweet and savoury notes there too, spice and pear drops.
Wu Gang hits the palate first with a bready, wheat sweetness. But as the beer warms up a little the ester flavours emerge: banana, in particular, intensified by the thick, chewy mouthfeel making it feel a little like a smoothie. Spices and herbs come through on the aftertaste: bay, yes, but also clove, coriander and orange peel.
Wu Gang Chops the Tree is complex without being complicated; light but with substance. It’s interesting enough to want to drink all night and at 3.8%, you probably could.