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.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Spanking New American IPAs

So I picked up a couple of new (India) Pale Ales in Molloy's the other night. Interestingly they are both in cans, which is claimed by some to keep the beer in better nick than bottles, we'll see. Also, the chap in the shop particularly recommended the Dale's. Both are pretty strong too...

From left to right they are: 
Dale's Pale Ale 6.5% abv 355ml €3.69 - Link
Sly Fox Route 113 IPA 7% abv 355ml €3.69  - Link

Dale's - Wow. I see what he meant. It's a hazy amber colour in the glass with enough fizz to excite the tongue. The taste is crisp and fairly hoppy with the bitterness lingering pleasantly on the palate. There's just enough light maltiness to make this extremely drinkable. It reminds me of my favourite American IPAs - Odells, Rogue, Goose Island etc which is quite a compliment. If this had been in either of the previous (I)PA competitions it would have given a good account of itself.

Route 133
Hmmm - darker than the Dale's and also extremely tasty. It's a little more subtle;  the hops are more restrained here but the balance is exquisite. I think this is what the O'Hara's double IPA was going for, but it didn't quite pull it off.      

If you can find 'em, and you like big American style strong pale ales, you'll love these.