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)

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