Tuesday, April 11, 2017

At long last Aldi (again)

I have blogged Aldi's beer before firstly in 2013 and it wasn't pretty, then in 2014 I tried again and it was better, It's now three years later and the craft beer market has moved on significantly so I'm expecting a decent showing.       

Apologies - I normally take a photograph of the beers as soon as I bring them home but  this time I forgot, mea culpa.I do have one of the Balbec IPA, the others I got from the interweb.

JJ's Balbec IPA  6%   €2.99
This unusually monikered IPA comes from Kilmallock Co, Limerick. That's about all I know. Its a hazy golden colour in the glass. herself is getting grapefruit off it but my jaded palate isn't getting much in the way of fruit. Its the strongest in alcohol doesn't taste it. Like the Brown Bear it's better when warmed slightly from fridge temperature, and it's perfectly drinkable, but not one I'll be rushing to buy again.

Brown Bear of (Connemara)IPA  5.2%  €1.99
Another beer brewed by Station works, Newry; these guys must be busy. First thoughts - Its OK, Kinda nondescript, pleasant. Another IPA from Station Works. As it has warmed up slightly, its getting better, fuller, nice bitterness at the finish.  I like it. Definitely needs to be warmer, thats' the key for this one.

Aldi Wild Bill's IPA 5%  1.79
Brewed by Marstons Brewery under the Harper's Brewey Co banner
Darker and it tastes like it. A beefy full flavoured old fashioned IPA  with maybe a hint of spicy rye. Long bitter finish which I really like. Very unusual for a supermarket IPA and a steal at this price.

Aldi Perfect Storm Epic IPA 4.5%  2.19  (brewed by Williams Bros Brewery, Scotland)
Nice - well balanced, not much in the way of fruit but some attractive hoppiness and a nice full finish. Not classic flavours but Lots of taste for a 4.5%. Link

For my money the Brown Bear and the Wild Bill are great value at these price, and overall a good showing from Aldi, four IPAs, two very nice and two decently drinkable.

Next: Lidl!

Monday, March 27, 2017

McGargles IPAs (All of them) - **Updated**

Francis' Big Bangin IPA 7.1%
Cousin Rosie's Pale Ale 4.5%
Knock Knock Ned's IPA 6.5%

McGargles, eh? I quite liked them when they came out, especially the lager. By my reckoning (and after a two year absence) they have re-branded and (as I discovered tonight) they appear to have re-branded again (see below*).  From the picture I think that the Francis' Big Bangin IPA is the original branding, with the other two bearing the Mk2 branding. I bought these all in Dunnes but I've lost the receipt, so no idea how much they are.

Anyhoo, onto the IPAs. Let's do the honourable thing and start with the weakest first, Cousin Rosie's Pale Ale. It's...decent. Tastes like a lot of other Irish IPAs of medium (<5%) strength, not a huge amount of hops, decent mouthfeel and a piney, resiny finish. Perfectly fine overall, but I wouldn't pay premium craft beer prices for it; but it's a perfect supermarket pick-up.

Next up is the mid strength IPA -  Knock Knock Ned's IPA. Hmmmmm, it's definitely stronger, that much is obvious from first sip. The flavour profile is very similar though, quite bitter and resiney but not enough fruit to offset it, IMHO.

Lastly, in this batch, and certainly not least, at a torrefied 7.1%. is  Francis' Big Bangin IPA. This is much better, strong but with a hint of tropical fruit on the nose and a solid core of fruit to balance the pine. It really reminds me of Grafters IPA (also available from Dunnes), which I like. No surprises there as Rye River brews them both. I would say this is more like an American pale ale. Careful with this one, it goes down very easy.

Mk3 McGargles ales... 

Little Bangin IPA 3.8% - €3.00*
Double Bangin IPA 8% - €3.79*

Not sure what I was expecting with these two, the double IPA probably a big piney unsubtle beast, and the Little fella probably underwhelming and weak. Lets start with the Double Bangin' IPA. Wow, this is really good, a super balance of fruit and bitterness, without the overly sugary sweetness you sometime get with double IPAs. I'm even getting a hint of liquorice. I'll buy this again.

Lastly the Little Bangin IPA, limping in at a weedy 3.8%. I suspect this part of the current vogue for session IPAs, so let's see. Hmmmmm - probably should have started with this. Still, it's not bad. Light in flavour but what's there is tasty; a hint if citrus along with the standard bitterness. This isn't an IPA for the die-hard but I could see it being a nice drink for a warm summer's evening.

*Bought in Tesco

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

New Irish* IPAs - Part 2

All of the beers tasted below were purchased in O'Brien's, who have a pretty decent selection of craft beers, and apologies for the length of time it has taken to post this second post after my resurrection. I thought I had my full mojo back, but it appears it has not fully regrown, yet.

All beers were tasted with Herself on this occasion and she concurred with my opinions.

Fourpure American Pale Ale 5% abv 33cl €2.75
Yes! this is lovely. Definitely in the American style, it's slightly lighter at 5% then a big beeft APA but the core flavours are present and correct. Im getting some nice citrusy notes and the merest suggestion of tropical fruit. Personally I'd love to try this at 6%, but they have got the American Pale ale spot on, which is no mean feat and something very few Irish* breweries have done.
*For some reason I thought this was Irish, not sure why as a quick glance at the can and indeed their website, clearly shows they are London based. I had already written the above, so screw it.

Rascals Wunderbar IPA 6% abv 33cl €2.90
Hmmm, tasted straight after the fourpure this lacks complexity. Its strong and it has ample piney flavours but that's about it.

Jack Cody's Lazy Eye 6.3% abv 50cl €3.55
Dark and lightly carbonated. quite fruity in a red ale way. not a citrussy way. Tasty though, herself likes it.

Hope Handsome Jack  6.6% abv 33cl €2.90
By contrast this is quite bubbly and looks like a lager in the glass. That likeness is dispelled the moment the glass approaches the nose though, as there is a big whiff of tropical fruit.  On the palate the fruit is again dominant, but there's something missing, some tiny depth in the flavour. It's not lacking in alcohol, weighing in at a muscular 6.6%, but for me it's a near miss, just slightly too light for me. Although, as it warms up, it's clawing back the fullness, so what do I know. If you like your beers tropical this is one for you.

Wicklow Wolf IPA 6.3% abv 50cl €4.00
To be honest, this beer is a sure thing. I love it in bottles and and the rare occasion when I have had it on draft, I love it even more. There is no dominant flavour as such, just a very nicely balanced beer. There's some pine, some grapefruit and a lingering, full finish.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

New* Irish IPAs - Part 1

I have just checked and the last time I posted was Feb 26th 2015, so its been exactly 2 years. I'm not sure why I stopped and indeed I'm not sure why I have started again. Maybe its because I am seeing a huge amount of Irish craft beers, everywhere. Not just in off-licences but in large Supermarkets and even in local Spar/Centra/Londis outlets. Frankly, I'd like to keep a record of what's good and what's not. So let's see what's out there...

Clearsky  - Rowlock India Pale Ale                        4.5% abv  50cl €3.92
Brehon Brewhouse  - Drumlin Irish Pale Ale         4.6% abv  50cl €4.19
ReelDeel Brewery  - Jack the Lad Irish pale Ale    4.5% abv  50cl €3.65

I got these in my local Centra in Sandyford Hall. Of late they have started stocking a decent amount of Irish craft beers, so I decided I'd pick four and taste them 

Rowlock India Pale Ale Link
This is bottle conditioned and appears a little cloudy in the glass. Don't really like this - there's a sharpness on the palate initally and some pine, but that's it. As herself put it there's no depth or finish in the flavour.

Drumlin Irish Pale Ale link
This is better than the Rowlock. Its darker too, a ruddy amber colour with a pleasantly large amount of foamy head. A classic Irish pale ale, some piney bitterness, a touch of fruit and some good body.

Looking at the website, it seems they have re-branded...

Jack the Lad Irish Pale Ale link
Nope, this has the same sharpness and lack of depth as the Rowlock. Don't like this at all. Down the sink.

Note: They also had the Journeyman IPA ,but when I got home I discovered that I had inadvertently bought their Journeyman IPL, which I think is a lager with the addition of some IPA hops. Anyhoo - it was pretty good.

So I went back to the Centra to pick up the two IPAs that I missed lat time around. I'm expecting more from these as they are shade stronger at 5.2% each. Both appear to be from Station Works.

The Foxes Rock IPA 5.2%  50cl €3.26
Good, full flavour, some nice hoppiness. Billed as an "American Style" IPA this lives up to the heady boast as it is  indeed slightly sweet like a US IPA, but it also has the US's full fruity palate.

The Journeyman Master Cooper IPA 5.2%  50cl €2.99
This is brewed under licence by Station Works and I think this might be the same as the beer above. I'd have to taste them at the same time to be sure though.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A (Second) Visit to the Cellar

I finally made it back to The Cellar in Blackrock last weekend and picked up six more Irish beers  from their huge selection. I have to mind myself in there, I'd happily go in and drop a couple of hundred bills on beer easily. Luckily, I'm tight as a gnat's chuff...

Cotton Ball Kerry Lane Pale Ale 50cl 5% abv €4.25 link
Starting off - it's not bad. Cloudy amber in the glass with a fine white head. After a few minutes I'm beginning  like this more, maybe it has warmed up a touch but the finish is developing some nice complexity. There's not a lot of hops initially but  overall it's working for me. Not cheap though, at north of 4 notes for a bottle. For that money I'd want a bit more...

Clifford's Connacht Champion Irish Golden Ale  50cl 4% abv €3.99 link
Yummy. Pours with a thick white head and plenty of bubbles. Slightly sweet but there is a little tannic aftertaste that offsets it. It's got a lot of flavour for a 4% beer, and would make a good session ale, assuming that the sweetness doesn't become sickly. One for a sunny beer garden, methinks.

Brehon Brewhouse Stony Grey India Pale Ale 50cl 6% abv €4.25 link
Cloudy amber in the glass. Big and bold and yummy. Like it. 

Black Donkey Sheep Stealer Farmhouse Ale 50cl 5.6% abv €3.99 link
Nope. Tasted like a wheat beer to me.  (It's a saison - are the taste characteristics similar?). Either way I don't really care for it. Herself liked it, but she was weird taste; she married me after all.

Kelly's Mountain Revolution Red Ale 50cl 4.8% abv €3.79 link
Like this. Full flavoured with lots of caramel and a hint of fruit. I tried their Pale ale a while back but I don't recall if I liked it.

Jack Cody's Puck Pilsner 50cl 4.5% abv €3.69 link
Didn't care for it. Cloudy and dull and a bit resiny. Reminded me of Harviestoun Schiehallion craft lager, which I used to enjoy, but fell out of love with it all of a sudden, last time I tried it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Craft Brewing Company - Irish Ale & Lager

I  ventured down to the Lidl in leafy Rathfarnham last week with the express purpose of sourcing some Crafty beer. I didn't get the stout but I did pick up a four pack of the ale (4.1%) and the lager (5%). The beers are made in Kilcock by The Rye River Brewing Company who also make McGargles, whose beers I quite like.

I can't find a link for the beer but this article has a good summary, even if I disagree with some of the conclusions.

Craft Brewing Company Irish Red Ale 33cl 4.1% abv  €5 for 4
Didn't really care for this. Found it a bit thin and sharp. The lack of bite may be a function of the abv, or lack thereof.

Craft Brewing Company Irish Lager 33cl 5% abv  €5 for 4
Full flavoured, little bit of hops, with a good finish and nice balance. I can taste the 5% and I likes it.  A steal at this price.  

Monday, February 16, 2015

My Evil Twin

I was buying wine in O'Briens in Carrickmines and I came across an evil (twin) offer - four for a tenner on the above Eviltwin beers - not bad at face value. So I picked up a couple of each.

EvilTwin Brewing Falco India Pale Ale 35.5cl 7% abv  €2.80 (reduced from €3.69)
Strong and hoppy with lots of pine/resin. This is not subtle, however and there are better US pale ales out there, so I don't think I'll be buying this again.

EvilTwin Brewing Hipster American Pale Ale 35.5cl 5.3% abv  €2.20 (reduced from €2.89)
Hipster - should have had this before the Falco as its weaker (in alcohol and flavour). It's not bad, easy drinking, I guess. Grassy with some fruity/floral notes also. Not much of a finish.

Zero for two. Ho hum...
I was in O'Briens again tonight, after a particularly torrid week of work I decided I wanted to buy some nice beers to sup on over the weekend. I picked up four White Hag IPAs and four 8Degrees Amber Ella, both of which I bleedin' love, and also the ale above. It's an Evil Twin 'Hop Flood' American Amber Ale and it weighs in at a whopping 7% abv. 

This was part of the original 4 for a tenner offer but I don't think it was available last time, so I grabbed one and had it earlier this evening; in a nutshell, it's a beast. Big and very hoppy. It's bitter at the finish but it has a bit of sweetness in the mix too - I don't think it's quite balanced enough but I liked it for its takes-no-prisoners strength and its...balls.