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.

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