Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Beavertown Pale Ales

Another horizontal tasting, this time from Beavertown, who I thought were American (mostly from the can designs) but are actually from London, innit. I had the Neck Oil once, late at night and quite liked it, so I decide to try all three Pale Ales at once. All in cans and all from O'Briens - link

Neck Oil Session IPA 33cl 4.3% 45 IBU €3.49
There is an uncomfortable looking cloudy and pale colour in the glass but has some lovely citrus fruits on the nose. It's a tough one, making an IPA that's high on flavour but low on alcohol. By god, this pulls it off. Lots of grapefruit, a decently bitter finish; it obviously doesn't have the malty sweetness you get from the higher abv. Fits the definition of  session ale and would be great on a hot summer day.

Gamma Ray American Pale Ale 33cl 5.4% 55 IBU €3.89
A more golden colour in the glass, bit more body, nice touch of malt. Not bad at all, but pricey for 330m, IMNSHO.

8 Ball Rye IPA 33cl 6.2% 65 IBU €4.09
Red (natch) and cloudy in the glass, really liked this, a pinch of spice and a lovely long bitter finish.

New (Posh) Irish beers

Independent Brewing Whiskey Stout 50cl 7.0% abv €6.19 link
Liked this a lot but wouldn't drink more than one, as with all of these very strong stouts, they tend to be a touch sweet. Two marks against this stout, one - I didn't get any whiskey notes, two - it was bleedin' expensive at something north of six notes. 

CloughMore Granite Lager  50cl 4.5% abv €3.59 link
Apparently this come from Whitewater Brewery, about whom I have had mixed things to say over the last while. But this I liked. Crisp, clean and moreish.

9 White Deer Brewery Stag Ban  50cl 4.5% abv €4.29 link
It doesn't say on the bottle what style of beer this is and I guess it's a golden ale and for once I've found an Irish Golden Ale, that I really liked. This was crisp, light, refreshing and delicious. Slightly more of a summer drink but my real problem is that it's very dear for what it is. I can just about justify paying €4+ for a dynamite IPA, but I'd find it hard to pay that for a light ale, just my opinion though.

White Gypsy Yule Ól 50cl 6.0% abv €4.29 link
Oh yes, this is the ticket. A deep ruby colour in the glass. It's got a wonderful full, rich flavour of "toffee and coffee" per the label, and I'll go along with that. It's almost porter-like in it's rich chocolately-ness. I've had a few White Gypsy beers on draught and these guys know what they are doing. Shame about the label, it's skew-whiff.

Wicked Wolf IPA 50cl 6.3% abv €4.49
It's not bad, its got some nice fruity hops, a bunch of pine, but not a lot going on in the malt stakes. It's a bit of a hop bomb and it's certainly decent, especially as this appears to be a first effort from this new Bray based brewery. I like to buy Irish but there's better IPAs out there for the money (8 Degrees make quite a number.); €4.50 is a lot to pay for IPA that you don't absolutely love. 

Wicked Wolf American Brown Kentucky Common 50cl 4.8% abv €3.99  link
Well, this was a brown ale, I'm not a huge fan of brown ales, I find them a bit...meh. This was ok; there was a little sweetness, some maltiness and a touch of fruit but nothing that would bring me back for more. Sorry.

12th Abbey Altered Amber 50cl 4.2% abv €3.99 link
Dark red, light maybe a bit watery initially? Got better as it warmed up  - not bad, developed some nice taste. Decent overall especially as its only 4.2%. Not cheap tho'.

12th Abbey Irish Pale Ale 50cl 4.8% abv €3.99
It was late when I drank this and I didn't take many notes but I liked it. Bit of malt, bit of hops; not dissimilar to a number of other solid Irish IPAs and that's not a bad thing.

Last one from O'Briens, this time...
12 Acres Pale Ale 50cl 4.6% abv €3.79 link
My first beer from Laois, I think.
Ugh - nasty, bitter. Don't like this at all, down the sink.  I've come across this style/taste(?) of beer a lot recently (if it's a style and not a fault) in a number of ales and I just hate it, sorry. I suspect it could be me and if so I apologise to the numerous producers.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

More Aldi Beers

Wychwood Brewery Bah Humbug 50cl 5.0% abv €2.49 link
Didn't like this at all. The cinnamon just didn't work for me and I found it sickly sweet and spicy. Down the sink.

O'Shea's Traditional Irish Ale 50cl 5.0% abv €1.99
I don't know why I'm surprised, but  this is pretty good. Rich in flavour with some nice caramel notes. It's supposably made by Carlow Brewing, who make O'Hara's. I'd have to taste it against O'Haras red but I reckon they're fairly similar, and I really like O'Haras red. Priced to move...

Bateman's Rosey Nosey 50cl 4.7% abv €2.49 link
Based on the label alone I wasn't hopeful but this is a decent red ale. Nice bit of malt, caramel and a hint of fruit. Not bad at all. 50c more than the O'Shea's though, and that's Irish.

Berliner Kindl Pils 50cl 4.8% abv €1.49
Very pale in the glass and a bit thin on the palate, I didn't really care for it. This might be OK on a hot day but I wouldn't buy this again even at this cheap price.

So I was back in Aldi to buy more of their delicious Malbec and I noticed that there were some new O'Shea's beers (see above). I'll be reviewing them over the next few days.

O'Shea's Irish Pale Ale 50cl 4.3% abv €1.99
As I mentioned here, I read somewhere that the O'Shea's beers are made for Aldi with the difference on the IPA front is that the Aldi version is not dry hopped. I haven't had the OHara's for a while but there doesn't seem to be a huge difference, i.e. it's pretty good. And I'm sorry to always banging on about price but at €4 per litre, it's competitively priced. 

O'Shea's Irish Stout 50cl 4.5% abv €1.99
Like it, good body, lots of flavour, maybe could be a bit creamier? Goes very well with Knappogue Castle 12 yo, which I got for Xmas, from a generous Kris Kindle.

O'Shea's Irish Golden Ale 50cl 4.1% abv €1.99
I'm not a huge fan of golden ales, for me they often fall between two stools, Lager and IPA, with not enough of either to work for this jaded palate, but this was quite delicious. It was a couple of weeks ago that I drank it (this blog update is way late), but I remember being very impressed. It was light and refreshing with a suggestion of hops that worked for me. If you likes your golden ales, I suspect you won't go wrong here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

8 Degrees: A Very Imperial Winter

Here's the link..all beers €3.09 from my friends at Baggot St Wines.

Belgian Dubbel 33cl 7.2% abv €3.09
Ah yes, it's that Belgian style of beer. I used to love it; Chimay, Duvel, Kwak etc., but for some reason I went completely off it; I found the fruity sweetness cloying,  I'm not sure what I was expecting here, to be honest. I got the Dubbel more for completeness sake, than out of a genuine desire for it. Having said that, now that I'm about half way through it, I think I'm enjoying it. Probably won't but it again but if you like this style of beer then why not buy Irish...

Double Irish Imperial IPA 33cl 9.0% abv €3.09
Another winner in the IPA dept. Strong (natch), hoppy and delicious. These guys can do no wrong at the moment. That's all I can say, if you like big IPAs, buy this. 

Russian Imperial Stout 33cl 9.0% abv €3.09
First off, Herself loved it. I have a curious relationship with Imperial Stouts. All the beer bloggers/purists/nerds bang on about them and I can see what the attraction is. Lots of alcohol and all that chocolate, coffee and whatnot. The problem for me, as a Dublin boy raised from the pram on Guinness, is that I don't like my stout sweet. So while I appreciate the quality, I'm just not convinced this style is for me, apart from an occasional dip in, like a few other things in my life...

Saturday, December 6, 2014

More Random Xmas Beers from Molloys

More new beers that I picked up in Molloy's on the Ballyogan Road. They do have a smashing amount of craft and unusual beers.

Williams Bros   link
I drank the three beers below at the start of a very long and unprofitable poker game, it was early on in the evening so I was still modestly sober.

Caesar Augustus Lager /IPA Hybrid 50cl 4.1% €2.89 - reduced from €3.95
OK. Light and refreshing, more of a summer drink though. 

Seven Giraffes Extraordinary Ale 50cl 5.1% €2.89 - reduced from €3.95
Strange and awful; Josie drank it though.

Cock of The Walk Scottish Red Ale 50cl 4.3% €2.89 - reduced from €3.95
Liked this a lot. Solid, hearty red ale. Not sure I'd pay 4 quid for it though when there's a plethora of good Irish Red Ales for a bit less on sale. But one to try if you like your red ales.

The White Hag link
The White Hag Irish IPA 33cl 7.2% €2.99    
Coloured like an amber ale, at first sip it's clear that this is not an IPA for the faint hearted, although that should be obvious with an abv of 7.2%. Big, sweet and hoppy. It's not dissimilar to the Modus Hoperandi below. Styled like those  American IPAs I love, it's maybe not quite as balanced as them though.

The White Hag Irish Oktoberfest Brew 33cl 6.2% €2.99
Nice. A reddish, strong, fruity ale. It's a Samhain ale, for those Celts among you. Not quite sure why it's called Oktberfest, but I'll bite. These guys (from Sligo) are two for two so I'm delighted to find another Irish Brewery that delivers consistent quality. I've had some shocking Irish beers of late, I'm sorry to say.

Modus Hoperandi India Pale Ale 35cl 6.8% €3.69 link 
Amber, almost orange in the glass. Large head. Big and sweet and oh so good. My kind of IPA. Apparently you can get a six pack for about nine dollars in Chicago, blues.

Einstok Icelandic Pale Ale 33cl 5.6% €2.99 link 
Again, orangey in the glass. Pleasant but unremarkable. This is that mild style of Pale Ale that doesn't have masses of hops but is perfectly drinkable nonetheless. Probably won't buy it again though; not my bag, baby.
BrewDog This. is. Lager.  33cl 4.7% €2.89 link

Monday, November 17, 2014

8 Degrees Pale Ales

I have a curious relationship with 8 Degrees Pale ales.  I never really loved their core Pale Ale - Howling Gale, which I found a bit bland and not dissimilar to a bunch of other Irish Pale Ales, which are fine but nothing to get excited about. However, whenever they tried something different; the "Hop Off" IPAs - Cyclone and Hurricane, Amber Ella, Vic's Secret, Simcoe Rye Ale etc. the results are all marvelous. All were touted as being seasonal or one-offs. What I couldn't undertand was why they wouldn't make one of the IPAs, at least, part of the core range.

Since then, it appears that Amber Ella and Hurricane have been added to the rotation, hurray! Recently the Full Irish has also arrived on the scene. Hopefully they'll keep making it, as the first time I tried it I really liked it. In my mind I couldn't distinguish what made it different to the Hurricane, so I decide to buy both and compare. While I was at it I figured I'd throw in the Howling Gale, and see how it held up against it's hoppier brethren.

With Herself away in warmer climes I enlisted the help of BigBog to provide some unbiased opinion. After a couple of Grolschs to warm us up we moved onto pale ales with a Bo Bristle IPA. For some reason I didn't include this in my Irish Pale Ale challenge. Anyhoo, it was perfectly pleasant, a little light for my taste but fine and well balanced. Next up the contenders 8 Degrees...

BB was tasting blind, I was not. Here are our tasting notes, verbatim.

Howling Gale Pale Ale  33cl 5% abv  €2.25
BB: Generic. Not as distinctive as BB. Grows on you. Smells like cheese.
W: Not bad, better than expected, but yes generic. Maybe a bit soapy?

The Full Irish Single Malt IPA 33cl 6% abv  €2.75
BB: Citrsussy. Quite nice. Dry finish.
W: Yummy yummy. Grapefruit, mango and malty sweetness, full flavour, very well balanced.

Hurricane IPA 33cl 5.8% abv  €2.75
BB: Harsher than #2. Like whiskey that is not as matured.
W: Lovely, but flavour is not as full or rounded as Full Irish.

So there it is, the Howling Gale is OK, the Hurricane is very tasty but the Full Irish is just fabulous. I hope this ale becomes part of the core range.

**Update - has The Full Irish again a week later  and was surprised just how much tropical fruit is going on. Lots is the answer, lots.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Random German Beers (from Ballyogan)

Doing some shopping in Dunnes in Ballogan I noticed some new cheap lager, and  I'm always on the lookout for good cheap lager. There were three beers from Eichbaum, a Pilsener, a Weissbier (I ignored that one) and the last of the three was a huge (950ml) of "Premium" beer, which I just had to buy.. 

Eichbaum Pilsener 50cl 4.8% abv  €1.50

Best way to describe this is probably "solid". Nice balanced taste, good mouthfeel and a decent finish. Good value as priced and  I'll be buying more.

Eichbaum PremiumBier 95cl 5.5% abv €3.50  
Didn't really care for this. The extra strength and "premium-ness" translates into a slightly unpleasant heat and a touch bitterness at the back of the palate. Don't like.

I was in Molloys looking for new Irish beers and IPAs and I cam across these two premium looking German types so I decide to take a punt on them. Link 

Stortebeker Atlantik-Ale 50cl 5.1% abv €3.75
When I bought this I had no idea what kind of "ale" this was. It came out a very pale if slightly cloudy lager like colour, so I guess it's probably a pale (or golden) ale. First things first, its got loads of lovely tropical fruit, loads. Not a huge finish but there's a little hoppines to counterbalance the fruit. If you like the tropical fruit thing then this a lovely example.

Stortebeker Pilsener-Bier 50cl 4.9% abv €3.25
Quite pale in the glass with a pretty thick white head with a slightly grassy aroma. I like it. It has a crisp and clean flavour. It's very well balanced with a hint of hops at the finish. It's a pretty solid Pilsener, problem is it's not cheap at €3.25 a bottle. Is it significantly nicer than other decent euro lagers e.g. Veltins, Spaten, Pilsner Urquell, Krombacher etc? You be the judge.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

More New Irish Beers & Some Bonus Tesco "Craft" beers

Pokertree Red Earl Ruby Ale 5.5% abv €3.95
Didn't like this at all, while it had some caramel and fruit at the start, the overpowering flavour was a sharp, unpleasant bitterness. Down the sink.

St Mel's Helles Lager  (Bottle Conditioned and dry Hopped) 5% abv €3.99
Ugh. Awful nasty bitter, same as their Pale Ale. There's something wrong with their beers OR my taste buds but both were undrinkable vile, sorry.

West Mayo Brewery Clew Bay Sunset Red Ale 4% abv €3.95
Dropped this on the way to the fridge so only got half a bottle -lots of caramel and sweetness, bit light tho, need more depth of flavour, alcohol or something.

Note: I'll be reviewing the 8 degrees in a separate post

Colgan's IPA 6.0% abv (4 for €6-50)
Amber red in the glass with a thin head. First impressions - light on the hops, heavy on the sweetness. Unf. it's not the deep malty sweetness that I like, it's a tiny bit cloying and syrupy. I had high hopes for this, especially when I saw the big "ALC. 6%" on the bottle. Sorry, this one ain't for me - and I bought four of them!

Rye River Brewing Solas Red 5.5% abv €1.89
Rye River are also responsible for the McGargles range of craft beers which some people have been VERY sniffy about. I don't have that problem and quite like all three of their beers with the lager being a personal favourite see this post. Not quite sure where this beer fits in the pantheon but here goes. First taste - not bad, mild. As its warming up its developing some subtle fruit and earthy notes. Not a huge flavour experience but a decent if unremarkable ale.

BONUS - Tesco Own Brand Craft Beers

Tesco California Common Steam Beer 4.7% abv €2.99
Brewed by Marston's. I don't know much about steam beers. These are brewed using lager yeast at higher then normal temperatures, which produces a sort of ale/lager hybrid. I found this a little light and watery but I liked the taste. I'm not sure how much more I'd buy of it at €3 a pop though.

Tesco Craft Lager 5.0% abv €2.99
Also brewed by Marston's, this is apparently "dry-hopped with Admiral and Boadicea", "refreshing citrus orange flavour". I have to say, after a few sips, I am finding it quite refreshing and it does have a tang of oranges off it. While it has some good mouthfeel I'm not sure I'd buy it at this time of year, feels more like a summer sunshine beer.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

New Irish Beers!

I'm always happy to see new Irish breweries/beers and the three below represent two new breweries (to me) Brehon & St Mel's. The Kinnegar Black Rye IPA was on draught at the recent Craft Beer fest, but I declined to avail of it as I was feeling a bit full (and jarred).

Brehon Brewhouse Killany Red   50cl 4.5% abv €2.99 link
A darkish cloudy reddish brown in the glass, white persistent head. First taste is fruit followed by a light malty but lingering finish. I like it. It's only 4.5% but it tastes a bit bigger.

Kinnegar (Special)  Black Bucket Black Rye IPA 50cl 6.5% abv €3.99 link
Yummy. This was big and bold. Lots of hops, lots of toasty roasted malt and a nice hoppy lingering finish. I like the standard Rustbucket Rye Ale a lot (although it ain't cheap  €7-50 for a bottle in Kelly's Rosslare) and this

St Mel's Pale Ale 50cl 4.8% abv €3.99 link
Sorry - I don't like this, it's got that really sharp bitterness that I can't abide, and that I have found in a few beers, Dungarvan Comeragh Challenger for one. Down the sink.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Weird Beard Beers

I found a selection of beers from Weird Beers in Molloys on my last visit there, so I bought them all as an experiment, like. They are a London Brewery and seem to make a wide variety of ales. Link 

Five O'Clock Shadow - American IPA 33cl 7.0% abv €3.49
This is more like it. Big, bold, hoppy, malty. Like it a lot and will buy again

Hit The Lights  - Mixed Up IPA 50cl 5.9% abv €4.39
Hmmm. Crisp, light, not masses of hops. Orange flavours (like those effervescent vitamin tablets). A little bitterness at the finish. Maybe needs food. A summer ale I think. Expensive though as priced.

Fade To Black - Black IPA 33cl 6.3% abv €3.49
While this is nominally an IPA, it's not really. I've had a few black IPAs and while they have some nice coffee/chocolate and roasted notes, they are, at heart, hoppy IPAs. This is the opposite; a thick, rich, chunky porter with a little bit of hops at the margins. I shouldn't complain, because it is rather good. There is an extraordinary breadth of complex flavours on show here. I don't tend to drink much in the way of bottled stouts/porters but I will definitely buy this again.
**Update ** I bought it again and gave it to Herself and she loved it, a cracker.

Little Things That Kill 50cl 3.0% abv €3.99
A violently hoppy little beer. Smells nice. Its very fizzy - lots of big bubbles and a pale slightly cloudy hue in the glass. Reminds of Brewdog Dead Pony Club, low abv, no malt and lots of hops. I don't tend to like weak beers but this is a tasty session ale, I'd miss the malt though.

Mariana Trench - Transpacific Pale Ale 33cl 5.2% abv €3.29
First time around I had this with some hot chilli crisps and couldn't really taste it, so I decided to give it another try. so I liked it but didn't love it. It's well balanced, with some nice tropical fruits and a touch of malt, and its very drinkable. One for those who don't like their Pale Ales too big or hoppy, with perhaps a little subtlety.

Black Perle 50cl 3.8% abv €3.99
A Coffee Milk Stout. This is different; sweet, like milky mocha. Not sure I really like it though. It's a milk stout which is traditionally made with lactose to sweeten it. It resembles cold sugary coffee with a hint of vanilla. It is actually made with coffee - here's a blog post from the brewer on the history of this ale. Hmmmmm, worth a try for the experience but not one I'd buy again.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Scottish Play (Beer)

Some more beers that I picked in Molloys on the Ballyogan road. They have upped their game recently and now have a very very good range of craft beers. The three below were new to me and  were available for a bargain €9 price, sweet.

Drygate Galdeye IPA 50cl 5.5% abv €3.99* link
Like this. Full bodied with lots of malt. Not a huge amount of hops, so if that's your bag, look elsewhere, but it worked for me. Would I buy it ahead of my favourite American IPAs? Probably not but I'd still recommend it.

Williams Joker IPA 50cl 5.0% abv €3.99* link
For something with such a great name this IPA was a tad underwhelming, especially for something that trumpets "wickedly hoppy" on the bottle. There was nothing wrong with this ale but I found it desperately bland. Not a lot of hops, malt or much else, I'm afraid. It could be that I'm holding it to too high a standard, but that's the great thing about a blog - it's my nickel.

Drygate Bearface Lager 50cl 4.4% abv €3.99* link
Let's also review this lager based on the claims on the label. This says "heavy on the hops light on the tongue clean and crisp citrus hints lager...". Heavy on the hops - there certainly some hops, more than you get in a normal lager; Light on the tongue clean and crisp - yep, it's light , clean and quite crisp; citrus hints - yes, this too.  So far so good, but how does it all work in toto?
Well enough IMHO, a fine summer drink but I'd need a little more; more alcohol, more malt, more something, to round out the flavour. If you like those light Italian lagers thsi will probably work well for you...

Just picked up the Drygate Outaspace (sic) Apple Ale 4.7% €3.99  link  and a Harviestoun The Ridge Pale Ale link 5.0% €2.69

The apple ale didn't work for me (or Herself btw), it was a bit of a curates egg to be honest. The Harviestoun was OK, a bit bland but drinkable. I used to love their Schiehallion but the last time I tried it I really didn't care for it, whaddya know?

Here are some other random capsule reviews that never made a post...

Rogue Brutal IPA 66cl €7.79 5.8% link
Underwhelming. Not bad but for nearly eight notes I'd expect to have my socks (or something else) blown (off). Perfectly drinkable but not patch on their Yellow Snow IPA.

Independent Pale Ale 50 cl 6.0% abv - €3.99 - link
Liked this a lot, cloudy amber in the glass, lots of tasty citrussy  hops at the back of the palate and a long lingering finish. Definitely will buy this again, Their Red Ale is pretty damn good too.

Kenmare Irish Pale Ale 50 cl 5.0% abv - €3.70 - link
Disappointing - not a huge amount of flavour.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Autumn Ales from Molloys

Buxton Axe Edge India Pale Ale 33cl 6.8% abv €3.79 link
Yummy, yummy, yummy. A perfect balance of citrus bitterness and malty sweetness. Very similar to all those US IPAs that I bang on about (blogs passim)

Tiny Rebel Urban IPA 33cl 5.5% abv €3.19 link
Pine freshness and lots of it. I'm drinking thsi straight after the Axe Edge and it's coming off second best. Not bad, decent long finish but doesn't have the magic balance of the above. 

Mariana Trench - Transpacific Pale Ale 33cl 5.2% abv €3.29
Reviewing this as part of a separate Weird Beers post.

Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA 33cl (can) 4.3% abv €3.49 link
Loved this. Loads of hops, malt full of big flavours. Very impressed that this level of flavour was present in  4.3% ABV ale. Would expect this level of flavour in a big 6%+ US ale 

Trouble Brewing Whistle Blower IPA 50cl 7.6% abv €3.99 link (seasonal)
I just went to get this bottle out of my beer fridge and it wasn't there. I'm getting a flashback to last Friday and a poker game in Naas. I think I enjoyed this but it's all a bit hazy, perhaps because this beers comes in at a whopping 7.6%, sorry.

Blackstairs Ruby Red IPA 50cl 5% abv €4.35  link
I tried this at the Craft Beer Fest this year and didn't like it, at all. But it was late I was jarred, my glass could have been dirty, yadda yadda yadda...I saw it in the shelf and decided I'd give it another shot. I'm glad I did, it's quite good. It's a deep reddy brown in the glass with a decent, healthy head. It reminds me of Kinnegar Rustbucket Rye which is quite a compliment. It's got lots of nice hoppy bitterness and a smattering of sweetness. If this is their first effort, bravo.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Irish Craft Beer Fest 2014

So this year, it was just me and Chester at the Irish Craft Beer Fest. The invitation had been extended to all of the FT boys but only five had confirmed. However, at the last minute, due to some shamefully egregious bad legs, our party ended up being but a twosome. 

Then there was a mix-up with the guest list, which was most excellently resolved (Thanks Ed!), So I curtailed my ticketing activities, sallied forth, and infiltrated the place of purveyance to negotiate the imbibing of some hoppy comestibles...

8 Degrees brewing Hurricane IPA 5.8% abv - Never had this is on draught, lovely as it is in bottles. A good way to start the evening and I sipped this as I wandered the hall, getting my bearings and waiting for Chester to hove into view. FYI I also sampled their Saison 7%, which I did not like at all, much too wheatbeer for me, but Chester loved it. Tasted the Alba Abú too but it was at the end of the evening, after many strong IPAs and I couldn't really taste it, sorry.

Stone Barrel Brewing Day Trippin American Pale Ale 5% abv - Hoppier, with more body than their previous IPA - Boom. Had a nice chat with the chap/brewer behind the counter. I hope they make this as a commercial offering.

Bo Bristle Imperial Red Ale 7% abv -Apparently the only Imperial Red Ale in Ireland - who'd a thunk it? It was a touch sweet but very moreish. A dangerous beer as it belies its abv.* 

O'Hara's Hop Heavy - Slightly Sweet but still tasty. Halfway between the regular IPA and the Double IPA.

Blacks of Kinsale Rocketship 6.5% abv - Really liked this, strong and hoppy. A turbocharged version of their standard IPA, which I like a lot and which won my Irish IPA Challenge. Chester tried the Black IPA and really liked it, which was nice.

OHara's Helles Lager 4.5% abv - I needed a break from all the strong ales so I plumped for a lager. Crisp and tasty, did the job.

Trouble Brewing Vietnow - very good, very hoppy. Like this a lot, even in my late evening beer haze.

Kinnegar Otway 4.2% - I decided to finish with something a bit milder, I didn't really care for this in bottles but it was perfectly pleasant, and what the doctor ordered at this late stage of the evening.

 *Recommended by Ed

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer (I)PAs and Other Revelations

I'll be honest. I've been back from hols for 2 weeks (today) and I haven't yet mustered up the enthusiasm to tweet about beer, let alone do a blog post. Jet lag/Insomnia was a factor for the first couple of days and I've had a rotten cold for the last week or so, but those are not really a good enough excuses and so I don't have one, as such.

Anyhoo, I'm typing now so I may as well continue. When we arrived in Pittburgh PA, my brother had a fridge full of beer. Lots of Miller Lite (more of this anon) and quite a few of these Dogfish head 60 minute IPAs, nice. When we got to the Outer Banks NC, it was mostly lite beer, unf. I drank quite a few lite beers over there and most were awful; Coors Lite, Michelob Ultra, Busch Lite (ugh!). The Miller Lite was OK, surprisingly. Not great, but out of  can, cold, when thirsty, it's not bad. Not chock full of flavourm but it's an imperial IPA compared to the watery muck above

I also drank a lot of Sam Adams Summer Ale - it was the best thing on draught in the local (Karoake) bar. I will take the video of me drunkenly murdering "Friends in low places"  to my grave. Oh and Jameson! Lots of Jameson, everywhere we went they had these glasses (below), into which they would pour massive amounts of raw spirit.

Anyway, after weeks of cheap watery beer I needed some decent stuff so I popped into Molloy's on the Ballyogan road and grabbed a whole bunch of new (to me) beers. I'll be reviewing them over the next while so do check back...

Thornbridge Halcyon Imperial IPA 7.4% abv 50cl  €5.69 link
Very expensive and strong but didn't work for me. Plenty of hops but zero malt or balance.

Buxton Axe Edge India Pale Ale 6.8% abv 33cl  €3.79 link
Cloudy with a thick creamy head. Very well balanced, full flavour. citurs fruits verging onto the tropical

James Squire One Fifty Lashes  Pale Ale 4.2% abv 34.5cl  €2.79 link
No flavour whatsoever. Down the sink

Eviltwin Brewing Yang 10% abv 35.5cl €4.75 link
Haven't had this yet but found the Yin and it's a stout, who'd a thunk it? Supposed to mix both for a Black and Tan.

Tuatara Aoteoroa Pale Ale 5.8% abv 33cl €3.29 link
Yummy. American Pale Ale style and classic example of same. Will buy more.

Bath Ales Wild Hare Organic Pale Ale 5.0% abv 50cl €3.49 link
Pale gold, very white head, Crisp and clean - good summer drink.

Kinnegar Otway European Pale Ale 4.2% abv 50cl €3.79 link
Good bitterness but not a lot of malt. A bit unbalanced. Maybe expected too much at this abv but not great balance

Trouble Brewing Agent Provocateur 6.2% abv 50cl  €3.99 link     (seasonal)
It's gone from the beer fridge but I don't remember drinking it. Am I an alcoholic? Probably.

Also, for no good reason here are some capsule reviews on beers from earlier this year that I never posted:

Rogue Brutal IPA 66cl 5.8% abv €7.79 link
Underwhelming. Not bad but for nearly eight notes I'd expect to have my socks (or something else) blown (off). Perfectly drinkable but not patch on their Yellow Snow IPA.

Independent Pale Ale 50cl 6.0% abv €3.99 link
Liked this a lot, cloudy amber in the glass, lots of tasty citrussy  hops at the back of the palate and a long lingering finish

Kenmare Irish Pale Ale 50cl 5.0% abv €3.70 link
Disappointing - not a huge amount of flavour.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Irish Ale Challenge - Final

So it's come to this - The Irish Ale Challenge final. I honestly can't remember where I bought the beers below. The O'Haras and Dungarvan and fairly widely available in Off Licenses and Supermarkets, the other two, not so much.  For the uninitiated, here are links to SemiFinals1&2 and SemiFinals3&4

The finalists are as follows (l-r):
Independent Red Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €3.59 link
Kinnegar Devil's Backbone Amber Ale 50 cl 4.9% abv - €3.79 link
O'Hara's Irish Red 50cl 4.3% abv - €3.29 link 
Dungarvan Copper Coast Irish Red Ale 50cl 4.3% abv - €3.39 link

As usual, the format of the final is a blind tasting, with Herself being my own personal Debbie McGee for the evening. I'm hoping that the colours of the ales aren't too much of a giveaway - IIRC the Kinnegar is a noticeably amber colour and a couple of the others are a fairly full on brownish red. I genuinely have no favourite here and I hope it will be a good contest.

Here are the beers - looks like a game of two halves, Brian. Numbers one and two are dark as pitch whereas three and four have a distinctly amber hue.  Here are Your Humble Blogger's (and Herself's) tasting notes, verbatim.

YHB - like it, good bitterness, nice maltiness and a long finish -
Herself - likes it but finds it a bit gentle
Guess - Independent

YHB - OK - very pleasant, very smooth and quaffable. Improves after a few minutes of warming up
Herself - Likes
Guess - O'Haras

YHB - Nice,  subtle flavour, smooth.
Herself - Loves this
Guess - Dungarvan

YHB - Good, bit more zing to it than #3
Herself - Likes
Guess - Kinnegar
So it's between #1 and #2. As much as I enjoyed #3 and #4, I'm loving the full body and flavour of the darker ales, although both need to be poured with some vigour to generate a few bubbles.

This is a tough one. Both are well balanced with a decent malty spine; #1 has a hoppiness that's not present in #2, but #2 is incredibly smooth and shows more appealing character after about 30 minutes out of the fridge.

I'm going to give it to #1. The balance between the malt and the hops, the body and the finish just shades #2 smoothness. So now for the big reveal - What was the winner and how accurate was I with my guesses?

So the winner, by a nose, is Independent Red Ale followed by O'Haras Irish Red , with the two amber/copper ales in joint bronze (fittingly). On a related note, I got all four correct, which wasn't that difficult, once the colours were visible, only requiring two correct guesses, given that I had a fair idea which beer was which colour.

To be honest, all four are very tasty drops, with your own preference for darker fuller ales or (relatively) lighter amber ales driving your choices. That's it for me for a while. I'm off to the states for a well deserved holiday where I will attempt to sample as many of America's craft beers as possible.

I may, in my wisdom, do an Irish Golden Ale competition next - watch this space.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Irish Ale Challenge - Semi Finals 3 & 4

Semi Final 3
Kinnegar Devil's Backbone Amber Ale 50 cl 4.9% abv - €3.79 link
Franciscan Well Rebel Red 33cl 4.3% abv - €2.99 link

Franciscan Well Rebel Red
Reddy Brown - thin white head. Nice, well balanced, but not a huge flavour, bit of malt and little fruit on the finish. Tonight this just isn't doing it for me, sorry.

Kinnegar Devil's Backbone Amber Ale
Amber red, off white head. Fruit on the nose, hints of caramel to taste with a little hoppy bitterness at the end. For once, in these Semi-finals, I am going for the lighter of the two ales.

Winner - Kinnegar Devil's Backbone Amber Ale

Semi Final 4
Dungarvan Copper Coast Irish Red Ale 50cl 4.3% abv - €3.39 link
Whitewater Belfast Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €2.99 link

Well I found Belfast Ale once but I can't find it again, so Dungarvan is the winner, by default.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Irish Ale Challenge - Semi Finals 1 & 2

Semi Final 1
O'Hara's Irish Red 50 cl 4.3% abv - €3.29 link
Porterhouse Red Ale 33 cl 4.2% abv - €2.10 link

This should be a close one, the O'Hara's put up a good show in the heat and the Porterhouse has long been a favourite of mine.

O'Hara's Irish Red
A more traditional red ale here with a deep red colour. Good Creamy head. Full rich flavour, with a hint of caramel and a pingh of fruit. 

Porterhouse Red
This seems so much milder and lighter tasted immediately after the Oharas, and it's fine but not the winner today. I think this ale needs to be sampled on draught, it just doesn't work quite as well in bottles.

Winner -  O'Hara's Irish Red

Semi Final 2
Independent Red Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €3.59
McGargles Granny Mary's Red Ale 4.4% abv - €2.00

I really liked the Independent first time out so I suspect the McGargles has its work cut out. BTW I have been reading some very sniffy things about McGargles on the intertubes and it appears that it is currently contract brewed in the UK. In which case I will have to disqualify it under the Boom rule, if it wins.

Independent Red Ale
Very dark red, small creamy head. Oh yes - great flavour, great mouthfeel. Complex lingering finish.

McGargles Granny Mary's Red Ale
Lighter, with more of an amber ale flavour profile. Nice
I like the McGargles but the Independent is a class above. It's probably the bookies favourite at the moment...

Winner -  Independent Red Ale

That's it - 4 down, 4 to go.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Visit to the Cellar

I finally made in down to the Blackrock Cellar a couple of weeks ago and bought the beers above. It was quite struggle not to walk out a hundred euro lighter with a large box of beers. The selection is stupendous. I will be back when I'm feeling not quite so penurious.

Camden Pale Ale 33cl 4% abv €3.10
Straw coloured, lots of citrus fruit on the nose, not so much on the palate. Some bitterness but not much going on at the finish. No malt to speak of. Fine but a bit mild for my taste - lack of alcohol could be a factor. 

Fyne Ales Hurricane Jack  33cl 4.4%  abv €3.39
Unusual colour, kind of a washed-out watery lager hue. Crisp with some decent hops and a good finish. Probably not one to savour at the end of an evening with a single malt but perfect for a summers day. Not dissimilar to Black's Session (ale)... 

Red Hook Long Hammer IPA  35.5cl 6.2% abv  €2.75
I didn't care for this the last time I had it, I found it a bit ..meh. This time out, at the end of a long evening of grape, grain and whatnot I cracked this IPA. Nice full malty flavour and a decent amount of citrus. I liked it and it's reasonably priced compared to a lot of  the other 'Murican IPAs.

Camden USA Hells Unfiltered lager 33cl 4.6% abv €3.10
I remember writing a review of this as I drank it, but do you think I can find it now?  Not a chance. I suspect a wizard did it. I think it was...OK, drinkable but not memorable. Hmmm - sorry about that. I'll take better care next time...

Porterhouse Devils Half Acre 33cl 13.5% abv  €3.75
Didn't really care for this. Very strong (natch) and very sweet but not enough hoppiness and complexity to offset the sweetness.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Irish Ale Challenge - Semi Finalists

It has taken quite a while, but I've whittled the numbers down to eight.  I'm not going to go into detail on the whys and wherefores. The only contentious decision was to exclude the Brown Paper Brown Project Big Red. Availability-wise, I've only found it twice in several months, but mostly it's because of the apples and the oranges. It's delicious, but it's the odd man out in this company, so reluctantly, it's out. Sorry.

The remainder are all pretty good and I, for one, am fascinated to see where this goes.
I have paired them up, seemingly at random, into the following four semi-finals.

O'Hara's Irish Red 50 cl 4.3% abv - €3.29
Porterhouse Red Ale 33 cl 4.2% abv - €2.10

Independent Red Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €3.59 
McGargles Granny Mary's Red Ale 4.4% abv - €2.00 

Kinnegar Devil's backbone Amber Ale 50 cl 4.9% abv - €3.79
Franciscan Well Rebel Red 33cl 4.3% abv - €2.99

Dungarvan Copper Coast Irish Red Ale 50cl 4.3% abv - €3.39 
Whitewater Belfast Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €2.99

Here's how we got here by the way...
Part 1
Part 2

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Irish Craft Ale Challenge - First Round (Part 2)

At the start of this exercise I had it in mind that I would pick four of the ales for the final, but I have five or six from the first batch of ten. I'm gonna have to limit it to eight in total and then run four semis to bring it down to an acceptable final of four. Anyhoo, on with the drinking - it's the cross I have to bear...

Brown Paper Bag Project Big Red 33cl 8.0% abv - €3.29
Pours a deep red, almost brown. With lots of head, thick and creamy. Sweet strong and tasty. The only beer so far with sediment and it's also the only beer of this strength in the field.

Galway Bay Bay Ale 50cl 4.4% abv - €3.29
Classic classic classic red ale. Perfectly fine, drinkable but nothing special.

8Degrees Sunburnt Irish Red 33cl 5.0% abv - €3.79
Deep amber, frothy head. A bit of caramel up front, light on the finish. Not bad but a bit expensive for what it is,

McGargles Granny Mary's Red Ale 4.4% abv - €2.00
Very dark red, small head, got better as it got warmer. Full flavour, nice rich finish.

Whitewater Clotworthy Dobbin 50 cl 5.0% abv - €2.99
Deep red, not bad, a little fruit, some bitterness. Decent All rounder

Hilden Halt Irish Red Ale 50 cl 6.1% abv - €3.49
Deep amber, thick head which dispersed quickly. Slightly sweet but with a sharp unpleasant aftertaste. Can't get over that aftertaste, down the sink with it.

Whitewater Belfast Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €2.99
Reddy brown with a thin but creamy head. Nice bitterness throughout, good mouthfeel, solid finish. It's not earth shattering but it's well balanced and reasonably priced. I like it. 

Kenmare Irish Red Ale 50 cl 4.3% abv - €3.70
Reddy brown with a decent head. Nice fruity nose and a good start, but there's no body and it has a thin finish. Not for me, this one.

That's it! Now the difficult task of picking the eight semi finalists. Back soon.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Beers from Marks & Sparks

I knew M&S did beers in the UK but for some reason I thought they didn't in the republic, for some reason. It was only after a chat with m'colleague Ed, who knows his beers, that I realised it was worth a look next time out.

It turned out there were a number of beers on offer, I ignored the dodgy fruit beers and assorted stouts and purchased the three at left. 

M&S Staffordshire IPA 50cl 5.5% abv - €3.09
Brewed by Marston's with whom I have a chequered relationship. I have had a bunch of their beers before but haven't been wowed by any of them. This ale didn't buck that trend. It was perfectly fine it poured a deep golden colour with a thin white head. Mildly hoppy with a little malty sweetness. I was underwhelmed but then the curry arrived and it worked very well with the strong spices. One to have with food I'll wager.
M&S Italian Lager 50cl 5.0% abv - €3.39
To give this its full title it's "Italian Lager brewed with Pure Mountain Water from the Italian Alps". My first thoughts were - wow this is expensive for a lager. €3.39 for 50ml or about €2.50 for a regular 33cl bottle; for that money I'd want something special in a lager. I guess there must be a market for Italian lager as I know plenty of folks who live on Perroni on draught, which I find a bit thin and insipid. (Moretti is my go-to Italian beer...)

This was quite pale golden in the glass with a decent head, helped by the robust carbonation. It was light and refreshing with some mild grassy flavours. A good beer for a hot day and will find favour with those who like Perroni and its ilk but probably not a beer I'd buy again.
M&S Czech Pilsner 50cl 5.0% abv - €2.49
Not much to say here. Drinkable, well balanced with a touch of hoppiness but a little wishy washy compared to my current fave Budvar. Would be interesting to blind taste it against Staropramen or maybe Pilsner Urquell; see if I am prejudging this beer.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Irish Craft Ale Challenge - First Round (Part 1)

As mentioned in the intro to this competition, I'm not going to pair off the beers, as I normally would,  I'm just going to drink them all and then pick three or four for the final. As I drink them I'll add them below so check back here until all 13 19 or so are done.

McGrath's Irish Red Ale 50cl 4.3% abv - €3.99 link
Pours a deep amber colour with a thin white head and I'm not loving it. It's perfectly fine but it's not bursting with flavour. There's some mild caramel and a hint of fruit, not much hops and a bland finish. Drinkable, but expensive for what it is. However, it did improve as it warmed up so maybe a half hour out of the fridge is required here...

Bo Bristle Amber Ale 50cl 4.5% abv - €3.25 link
A little toffee on the nose and quite amber in the glass with a small but respectable white head. It's tasty with some nice flavours but it's a little mild for my jaded palate. I need something bigger and bolder. You could argue that I should be tasting their Red Ale, but it's not out yet so I have to work with what I can find...

Dungarvan Copper Coast Irish Red Ale 50cl 4.3% abv - €3.39 link
Definitely getting better as we go so far. It's copper coloured, natch; with a good fluffy creamy toned head. I like the mouthfeel and it has a good, tasty finish with a little hint of bitterness. Like their Rye Pale Ale, I'd buy this again.

Kinnegar Devil's backbone Amber Ale 50 cl 4.9% abv - €3.79 link
Slightly cloudy amber colour with some good bitterness from the off. I liked this a lot
Great depth of flavour and long complex finish. A modern style of ale if I can get away with saying that, and I like the strength.

O'Hara's Irish Red 50 cl 4.3% abv - €3.29 link
A more traditional red ale here with a deep red colour.
A subtle bit of nice fruit and a good depth of flavour. A solid entry from Carlow.

Franciscan Well Rebel Red 33cl 4.3% abv - €2.99 link
I love this on draught so I was hoping for a lot here and was not disappointed. It's a deep red colour and it's smooth, baby. Well balanced with nice mouthfeel and a good finish make this a contender. 

Bru Irish Red Craft Beer 50cl 4.7% abv - €2.99 link
Amber coloured with a white head. It was late and I was "tired" (my notes are sparse) but this didn't do a lot for me. It was OK but didn't have enough oopmh on the flavour front. I wish I could love all the competitors but it's inevitable that some won't gel with my personal preferences.


Independent Red Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €3.59 link
These guys are new to me,  never saw any of their beers before.
Very dark red in the glass, almost brown in fact, with a frothy bubbly head. I liked this a lot, it had some nice fruit and lovely finish. Very accomplished, and their IPA is pretty decent too.
Carrig Brewing Co. Brazen Amber Ale 50 cl 4.2% abv - €3.99 link
This is another beer I'm going to damn with faint praise. Amber coloured in the glass (natch) with a medium head. I even used my wine thermometer to check the beer was served at the specified temperature. This was fine, mild, easy drinking and perfectly pleasant. A very different style to the ale above but just not "enough" for my tastes. Your mileage may vary.

Five Lamps honor Bright Red Ale  33 cl 5.0% abv - €2.79 link
Didnt love this, reddish amber in the glass with lots of head that disappeared rather quickly.
There was plenty of sweet caramel upfront but not much going on at the finish. Hmmmm.
Porterhouse Red Ale 33 cl 4.2% abv - €2.10 link
I love this on draught and  when in the Porterhouse I have converted large numbers of people to its charms. Reddish hued with a creamy white head. Traditional full slightly fruity flavour, a touch of bitterness at finish. Well balanced and very moreish.

The remainder of the Ales will be in First Round (Part 2)

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Irish Ale Challenge - Intro **Updated with 6 new Ales**

After the "success" of the Irish Pale Ale Challenge and the Irish Craft Lager Challenge , it seems like a natural progression to attempt an Irish Craft Ale challenge. Ale is a relatively loose term, so I decided what to exclude rather than what to include. So, I am excluding Pale Ales, Blonde Ales and Golden Ales. What's left should be Red and Amber ales.

After sourcing 13 Irish Craft Ales I think I have been pretty successful in choosing a group of similar beers, all (bar one) of the Ales come in between 4% & 5% abv, with the exception of the Brown Paper Bag Project Big Red, which is a whopping 8% abv.

I would have liked to include more Irish Ales, e.g. Porterhouse Red, but the beers below were all I could find in my (limited) travels. However, because of the revised format* of this competition, there is scope to include more beers, even after the competition has started.

*The format of the competitions I have run before has been a knockout competition with various rounds and a blind tasted final. This time out due to pure laziness I am going to eschew the knockout phases and just drink them all and pick three or four of my favourites at the end for the final.

All beers from Molloys, Supervalu, Dunnes, O'Neills & Baggot St Wines

Bo Bristle Amber Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €3.25
Galway Bay Bay Ale 50cl 4.4% abv - €3.29
O'Hara's Irish Red 50 cl 4.3% abv - €3.29
McGrath's Irish Red Ale 50cl 4.3% abv - €3.99
Dungarvan Copper Coast Irish Red Ale 50cl 4.3% abv - €3.39
Kinnegar Devil's backbone Amber Ale 50 cl 4.9% abv - €3.79

Whitewater Clotworthy Dobbin 50 cl 5.0% abv - €2.99
Franciscan Well Rebel Red 33cl 4.3% abv - €2.99
8Degrees Sunburnt Irish Red 33cl 5.0% abv - €3.79
Brown Paper Bag Project Big Red 33cl 8.0% abv - €3.29
McGargles Granny Mary's Red Ale 4.4% abv - €2.00
Bru Irish Red Craft  Beer 50cl 4.7% abv - €2.99 
Whitewater Belfast Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €2.99

I finally made it into Baggot St Wines today and found a ton of mostly new (to me) Irish craft beers. Apart from the Porterhouse Red (which I love on draught) they are all new.

Hilden Halt Irish Red Ale 50 cl 6.1% abv - €3.49
Carrig Brewing Co. Brazen Amber Ale 50 cl 4.2% abv - €3.99
Porterhouse Red Ale 33 cl 4.2% abv - €2.10
Five Lamps honor Bright Red Ale  33 cl 5.0% abv - €2.79
Kenmare Irish Red Ale 50 cl 4.3% abv - €3.70
Independent Red Ale 50 cl 4.5% abv - €3.59

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

New UK Pale Ales

Saltaire Cascade Pale Ale 50cl 4.8% abv - €3.49
13 Guns American IPA 33cl 5.5% abv - €2.99
Hardknott Infrared IPA 33cl 6.2% abv - €2.99

As I wandered back from Noshington's on the South Circular Road last weekend, away from that Hipster central of dodgy shorts, ugly shirts and handlebar 'taches I happened upon O'Neills Off Licence which had a rather fetching selection of Ales, so I grabbed three I hadn't seen before and away with me.

Saltaire Cascade Pale Ale link
The label describes this as having "intense citrus hop flavours". Hmmm - I don't think so, more like moderate citrus hop flavours, but it's nicely balanced.  It comes in at only 4.8% abv and reasonably moreish so it's definitely something you could sink a few of, if you had a sink.

Crafty Dan 13 Guns American IPA link
Another "American" ale from the UK. This one's a bit stronger  at 5.5% and a lot darker, this is a proper red colour and a nice frothy head. I like this, it's subtle but with a nice depth of flavour and a hint of bitterness at the finish.

Hardknott Infrared IPA link
Well it's red and quite bubbly, similar in colour to the 13 Guns. Unlike the other two this is not subtle. It's quite big on the hops, but there's a little malt to round out the flavour. And it's strong at 6.2%, which for me is a prereq for a very good IPA. Nice one.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Irish Craft Lager Challenge - Final

The final will be contested by:

8 Degrees Barefoot Bohemian 33cl 4% abv €2.49 link 
Porterhouse Hersbrucker Pilsner 33cl 5% abv  €2.10 link
McGargles Gravy Maevey Pilsner 33cl 5% abv €2.00 link

I mentioned in the intro post to this particular competition I could only find six Irish Craft lagers, I think there are more on the way but for now I was gratified to find three good examples. I really don't have a clue how this is going to go, I think it will be close. As usual I had Herself set-up the blind tasting and also give her opinions on the beers.

Lager 1
YHB - It's a little sharp, not bad, but I ain't loving it. Guess - 8 Degrees
Herself - No, doesn't like it.

Lager 2
YHB - Rich and full flavoured. Guess - McGargles (also from the colour)
Herself - She likes it.

Lager 3
YHB -Also rich and full flavoured, some nice nice fizz too. Guess - Hersbrucker
Herself - She likes it the most.

It's very close between #2 & #3. Both are delicious, #2 has a great depth of flavour with the slightest hint of fruit, but #3 has fantastic mouthfeel and perfect carbonation; #2 is a tiny bit flat and while it's possible this particular bottle may not be representative, I have to judge on what I have in front of me. I'm gonna give it to #3 but it's agonisingly close. Time for the big reveal...

So I was right with my guesses. The Hersbrucker is the winner. It's a pity that it's not more widely available, apart from the Porterhouse I have only seen it in Baggot St Wines, although their other beers, particularly ales, I have seen elsewhere. The highest compliment I can pay it is that it reminds me of my favourite Pils, Krombacher , which won the International Lager Challenge.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Irish Craft Lager Challenge - Semi Final 3 - An arty antarctic adventure

Semi Final 3
8 Degrees Barefoot Bohemian 33cl 4% abv €2.49 link
Tom Crean's Irish Lager 33cl 4.2% abv €2.19 link

It's late and I'm tired (red eye to London and back late) so we'll keep this short.

8 Degrees Barefoot Bohemian 
Yep - cloudy and not a lot of head but tasty, with a reasonably rich full flavour. A solid entry in the canon

Tom Crean's Irish Lager
It's not bad, lighter and zingier than its opponent but it doesn't have the depth of flavour.

Winner  - 8 Degrees Barefoot Bohemian  (told you it would be quick)

The final will be contested by:
8 Degrees Barefoot Bohemian 33cl 4% abv €2.49 link
McGargles Gravy Maevey Pilsner 33cl 5% abv €2.00 link
Porterhouse Hersbrucker Pilsner 33cl 5% abv  €2.10 link

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Irish Craft Lager Challenge - Semi Final 2 - A Parliament of Lamps

Semi Final 2
Five Lamps Dublin Lager 33cl 4.2% abv  €2.59 link
Porterhouse Hersbrucker Pilsner 33cl 5% abv  €2.10 link

I have to admit I've only ever had both of these on tap. The 5Lamps used to be available in Rock Lobster, formerly above Kielys, now in Dundrum. They served it in metal tankards, for some reason; but it was pretty good. The Porterhouse lager I think I've had a couple of times in one of their pubs, but it was years ago and I have no memory of it.

Five Lamps Dublin Lager
Oh I don't like this at all. It's got that sharpness I don't like in a beer, and which I don't remember from the draught.

Porterhouse Hersbrucker Pilsner 
Yum. Now that the mahoosive head has died down I can taste some malty sweetness and a little hoppiness to counterbalance it. Very nice and very well balanced.

Winner - Porterhouse Hersbrucker Pilsner

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Irish Craft Lager Challenge - Semi Final 1 - Titanic Gravy

Semi Final 1
Whitewate Belfast Lager 50cl 4.5% abv  €2.99 link
McGargles Gravy Maevey Pilsner 33cl 5% abv €2.00 link

I've had the Belfast lager before but I couldn't tell you if I liked it; the McGargles is brand new (to me). I've been reliably informed that "It's not traditional Czech. It's pre prohibition American. Darker, smoother and fruitier"

Whitewater Belfast Lager
Standard lager colour,  decent head, OK carbonation. Tastes fine, good, clean, crisp.

McGargles Gravy Maevey Pilsner
Wow. This is different. Smells fruity and is like an amber ale in colour. This is a very unusual lager. It has some fruit, some malt and I liked it.

Winner - McGargles Gravy Maevey Pilsner, There's nothing wrong with the Belfast lager but the McGargles is different and interesting and nice.

Irish Craft Lager Challenge - Intro

So I've done Irish (India) Pale Ales, I am going to do the Red/Amber Ales very soon but in the interim I'm going to do Irish Craft Lagers. I've managed to find six, which it probably the minimum number for a competition. Three semi-finals follows by the (usual, blind tasted) final, of the three SF winners.

I've tried them all at one time or another, apart from the McGargles but I can't recall much about any of them, so I reckon this should be a fairly open competition with no clear ante post favourite(s).

There has been a huge number of new Irish Craft beers on the market in the last couple of years and that's a very good thing. For some reason there have been very few lagers. Note: The Porterhouse lager isn't new, it's one of three lagers they make. The other two are "Chiller" a light American style lager, and a medium Pils - "Temple Brau". I picked the Hersbrucker (it was also the only one I could find!).

Why so few lagers? I know they are more difficult to make, from my one failed attempt to make beer. Is it that lagers are a bit uncool, a bit yobbish, a bit low rent, compared to wonderful hipster-pleasing ales? Maybe it's because you can do more with an ale, so it allows new brewers to express themselves better?
The pairings for the semi-Finals are as follows: 

Whitewate Belfast Lager 50cl 4.5% abv  €2.99 link
McGargles Gravy Maevey Pilsner 33cl 5% abv €2.00 link 

8 Degrees Barefoot Bohemian 33cl 4% abv €2.49 link
Tom Crean's Irish Lager 33cl 4.2% abv €2.19 link

Five Lamps Dublin Lager 33cl 4.2% abv  €2.59 link
Porterhouse Hersbrucker Pilsner 33cl 5% abv  €2.10 link

All beers bought in Molloys/Baggot St Wines/Dunnes.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Random Ales

So I went looking in O'Brien's wines in Carrickmines for some Irish Craft Lagers, for the upcoming Irish Craft Lager Challenge. This was a hopeful aspiration; the Beacon store has a much better beer selection but is not on my way home from work. I was hoping to find a Porterhouse lager but no joy; I can't actually recall if I've seen any of their lagers in bottles.

Anyway, I couldn't possibly enter an off-licence with the intention to buy beer and leave empty handed, perhaps it's the high functioning alcoholic in me, so I decided to buy some ale(s).

To be honest there's no rhyme or reason to my choices, I just picked a bunch of ales I hadn't tried before, except the Brainblasta, which I think I had one night, but I suspect I may have been a bit jarred cos I have no memory of it, whatsoever. Having said that, the breweries behind the winners of the first two IPA competitions (ODells and Rogue) are represented here, so if pedigree counts for anything...

Left to right they are...

Rogue Dead Guy Ale 6.6% abv 355ml €3.49
When is an ale not an ale? When it's a Dead Guy apparently... According to the Rogue site  - "In the style of a German Maibock, using our proprietary Pacman ale yeast.". A German Maibock is a lager, according to Wikipedia,  "and, despite the name, Rogue Ales Dead Guy Ale." I don't know if this is a lager, an ale or a lager brewed with Ale yeast. It's bloody good though. It had a unique flavour, caramel, fruit a tiny hint of hops, very smooth and balanced. Delicious. I's say that the nearest comparison would be Anchor's Liberty Ale, which I like a lot, but this is better...

Black Sheep Ale 4.4% abv 500ml €3.19
Hmm - wasn't sure about this - 4.4%..but I like it. Some nice toffee front and a little bitterness. I wouldn't have sniffed at another percent or so alcohol, but it's a good solid ale.

Odells 90 Shilling 5.3% abv 355ml €3.59
Yummy. Rich and full flavoured. not sure aboot the Scottish pedigree but I'll give it a pass. One to buy again I think.

Fuller's ESB 5.9% abv 500ml €3.79
Very English, this ale and a keeper methinks. It belies it's strength with its subtlety. A step up in quality from London Pride which I also like.

Porterhouse Brainblasta 7% 330ml abv €2.19
This is strong. Not just in alcohol, this has a big hoppy tone with some caramel underpinnings. Not for the fainthearted, though.