Friday, January 31, 2014

Irish Pale Ale Challenge - Final

Black's Kinsale Pale Ale 5.0% abv 33cl €2.69
O'Hara's Double IPA 7.5% abv 50cl €3.89
Mountain Man Hairy Goat  4.5% abv 33cl €2.69
Porterhouse Hop Head 5.0% abv 33cl €2.10

So here we are at last in the final. It has been pointed out that these beers represent very different styles of ale, and this is true. The entry criteria were that it had to be Irish (sorry Boom) and it had to have the words "pale ale" or "IPA" in the name. Hence we have a strong Double IPA, and three rather different styles of "pale ale". If I had, in fact, limited the competition to "actual" pale ales, it wouldn't have been much of a competition, numbers wise.

It's been said before, but it bears repeating. This is not, nor could it ever be, an empirical test of ales. All winners have done so based on my own personal tastes (or lack thereof) and if you yourself ran the competition you would probably get wildly different results. Here's how they all got here...

I feel sorry for the Full Sail which would probably have made the final if it had been in two of the other semi-finals and the Trouble Brewing which I like but tasted not at like an IPA at the time of tasting. I have discovered a couple or three "Pale Ales" that I might have included; McGraths IPA, Killegar Rustbucket Rye Ale, Franciscan Well IPA and others which I may review in due course.

As always, the final will be a blind tasting and I had herself do the pouring and preparing.  I hope colour won't be factor but I think at least one of them is quite dark. Anyway, here goes...(end Part 1!)

The contenders (after finalist 1 had been sampled)
Ale 1
YHB: Strong and sweet, this is almost definitely the O'Haras. Tonight I'm finding it a little sweet. Guess - OHaras
Herself: Interesting and she likes it.

Ale 2
YHB: Lots of hops, but not enough balancing sweetness. Nice but not a winner I think. Guess - Hairy Goat
Herself: Like it but prefers first

Ale 3
YHB: Yes, lovely, well balanced, hoppy. Ticks all the boxes. Guess - Kinsale Pale Ale
Herself: Really likes this, her fave of the four.

Ale 4
YHB: The only one with any head.A full deep rich flavour with some nice bittereness, halfway to a traditional ale I'd wager...
Herself: Doesn't like it.

For once, I got them all correct. I thought the O'Hara's would win, as I love a strong Double IPA and I swooned for it in the QF, but I'm finding it just too sweet tonight; perhaps the standard O'Haras Irish Pale Ale would have fared better tonight. The Mountain Man just doesn't have enough malt to balance the bitterness for me, so we're left with two...

As much as I like the Hophead (and I love it on draught in the Porterhouse) it's just not IPAish enough for me. So that leaves the Kinsale Pale Ale, and it's a worthy winner, it's suberbly balanced with just the right amount of hops and malt. I look forward to their forthcoming IPA and Double IPA. Well done, in fact, to all the finalists...

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