Thursday, July 25, 2013

Holiday Beers - Update 2

After a couple of pints, and a torrential downpour, at a nearby Parish "do", I squelched my way into Baggot St wines with a view to purchasing some quality craft beers for m'hols. I had previously been to Lidl where I bought a load of cheap beer and wine, so I was only after the good stuff now.

From left to right they are:

Dungarvan Comeragh Challenger Irish Bitter 3.8% €3.49 
Very bitter. Too bitter for me, alas.

Trouble Brewing Sabotage India Pale Ale 5.5% €3.69
I liked this although it was unusually dark red in the glass for an IPA and had a more red ale fruit thing going on. Very different to what I normally drink but well worth a punt.

Curious IPA 5.6% €3.49
Decent IPA. Nothing to shout about in this company. I'll probably have to buy this again to give it a fair shake.

Mikkeller Green Gold 7.0% €4.69
This was too much for me. It was very big and very full of flavour. I like a fuller flavoured IPA but this was a bit OTT for me, for some reason.

8 Degrees Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner Lager 4.0% €2.49
Finally an Irish lager I really like. Although it's only 4%, and I don't normally liked weak lagers, I loved this. It's crisp and has a nice bit of hops going on.

Franciscan Well IPA 7.5% €4.99
The pick of the bunch. I haven't had a beer from this brewery since Herself bought me an Alpha Dawg IPA a while back. Since then the brewery has been bought by Molson Coors, so it was with some trepidation that I opened this bottle. I needn't have worried, this was fantastic. Lots of hops, but well balanced, I'll have to blind test this against my favorite US IPAs...

Hilden Brewing Co Twisted Hop 4.7% €3.49
A good solid IPA from our Northern friends. Good hops, good malt, a lovely well balanced ale. I'm not surprised it won a prize (see below). I have to say that my favourite IPAs are the strong (mostly) American IPAs, but I would buy this again...

The Twisted Hop has just won top prize at the first Dublin Craft Beer Cup, so I got 2 of them. I was invited to this event by the lovely people @BaggotStWines, but alas I couldn't go due to work constraints.

I'll be drinking the rest over the next couple of weeks and will report back in due course.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Intl. Lager Challenge - Czech/Slovak Semi-Finals 1 & 2

Semi Final 1
Pilsner Urquell 4.4% abv  €2.99
Zlaty Bazant  5.0% abv  €2.19  (Slovak)

Look at the picture at left. Notice any similarities between the two beers?  Gold foil at the top, green font on a white background and a red rosette/symbol above same?  I did a quick qoogle and Pilsner Urquell has been made since 1842, Zlaty Bazant since 1967.

Zlaty Bazant is marketed in the U.S. as Golden Pheasant, and there's one on the label. There you go. It's owned by Heineken and I found some sniffy reviews on the intertubes as a result of this.

Pilsner Urquell
Nice, very nice. Crisp, full flavoured and a hint of bitterness and hops. This beer is apparently the original Pils (from the town of Pilsen, natch). 

Zlaty Bazant
It's not bad.. It's dry, with a little something or other going on at the finish. I'd drink it if I was given it but it's not at the races today.

Winner - Pilsner Urquell

Semi Final 2
Budweiser Budvar 5.0% abv  €2.49 
Staropramen 5.0% abv  €2.49

I know that Budvar has a complicated and litigious history, which I won't rehash here. Suffice to say I won't ever be drinking it's namesake.

After they took the Krombacher tap out of the Stillorgan Orchard I started to drink Budvar in bottles. I still buy it sporadically,  when I'm feeling flathuileach. Staropramen I've had the odd time, mostly when I'm in a pub and don't fancy whatever is on draught

Budweiser Budvar
Lots of  malty goodness and a hoppy finish. Well balanced and with a long finish. Altogether very tasty. This will be tough to beat.

It's good, slightly sweet and malty, but it's lacking the hoppy bite of its opponent. I'd be happy to drink it in a bar, but I'd probably not buy it...

Winner - Budvar

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Intl. Lager Challenge - Germany Quarter Finals 3 & 4

Quarter Final 3
Beck's 4.8% abv  €1.75 (can)
Holsten Pils 5.0% abv  €1.75 (can, 440ml)

Me and Beck's go way back. I spent one long hot summer in LA eschewing the weak local swill for bottles of Beck's and Grolsch. Holsten Pils used to be seen, I think, as a somewhat sophisticated beer back in the late 80's when I started drinking. It wasn't a lager, it was a Pils. Ahh, more innocent times! I honestly have no idea how it's going to hold up tonight, whether it was ever any cop or whether it was just clever marketing.

I like this, it has nice, crisp, dry flavours, and a decent finish with a hint of hoppiness.

Holsten Pils
No. Not much going on here. No crispness, just an underlying slightly sweetish hum. Drinkable but not much more.

Winner  - Becks

Quarter Final 4
Grafenwalder 5% abv €1.09 (can, Lidl)
Finkbrau 4.9% abv €0.75 (33cl, Lidl)

I've blogged (and compared and contrasted) Lidl beers before, and that time the Grafenwalder won, over its rival Perlenbacher. I've just checked the labels and both of these beers are made for Lidl. I do buy Finkbrau when I'm feeling impecunious but the Grafenwalder I haven't had for a long time. I decided to include these two just to see if you can get decent beer, cheaply. Let's see.

Pale in the glass, not much head, this is OK, if a bit grassy.

Also pale in the glass, also not much head.This has a slightly fuller, richer flavour. Nothing to write home about but decent.

Winner  - Grafenwalder

Note: At one point  I had included Satzenbrau in the eight German beers but after I googled it I discovered its not German at all. It's an erzatz Pils, made by Guinness in Dublin.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Intl. Lager Challenge - Germany Quarter Finals 1 & 2

Quarter Final 1
Spaten 5.2% abv
Veltins Pilsener 4.8% abv  €2.99

I do like Spaten, I had some recently at a gig (Hey! I'm not so old), and I really enjoyed it. I've only had Veltins once, on a recommendation from some guy in an off licence. It was OK; pleasant but unremarkable. Sounds like this match is a no-brainer, let's see...

Pale yellow in the glass, decent head. It's not bad, but not great. Some decent malt present and it's smooth, dry and drinkable but  nothing exciting here.

Veltins Pilsener
This is nice. Decent malt  and a little hops. Again not massively exciting but pretty decent.

Winner  - Veltins

Quarter Final 2
Kromabcher  4.8% €2.95 (Dunnes)
Warsteiner 4.8% abv

Back when we used to drink in the Stillorgan Orchard on a regular basis, they used to have Krombacher on tap and I bleedin' loved it, but I haven't seen it on draught it since. I buy it occasionally in bottles, but it can be pricey - three yo-yos for a bottle of lager isn't that clever. I'm sure I've sampled the Warsteiner before but I couldn't tell you when, I guess I must have tried it at least once? Anyway, here goes...

Amber in the glass with a long lasting head, this is pure class. Well balanced, sweet and slightly creamy (?) with a long luscious finish, this is utterly delicious. I suspect this will be a hard ask for the opposition here.

Tennis ball yellow in the glass, the head on this rapidly disappeared (baum). Not bad, a little bitterness but not much else going on. Fine on a hot day but not a winner here...

Winner  - Krombacher